World premieres and ferocious political comedy: The Royal Exchange launches its Spring/Summer 2023 programme

Premieres and partnerships characterise next year’s Spring/Summer season at the Royal Exchange Theatre.

By Emma Davidson | 24 November 2022

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The Royal Exchange has announced a huge programme ahead of its Spring/Summer 2023 season, as artistic directors Roy Alexander Weise and Bryony Shanahan work in collaboration with some of the industry’s top artists and companies from across the world. 

Writers Marieke Hardy (Australia) and Kimber Lee (New York) will both see their plays premiere at the Exchange as part of this season. Hardy’s adaptation of Dario Fo’s classic farce NO PAY? NO WAY! was a massive hit in Sydney and arrives here in Manchester next May, this is closely followed by Lee’s untitled f*ck m*ss s**gon play as part of Manchester International Festival before transferring to the Young Vic in autumn. 

Local partnerships will also be strengthened across Greater Manchester as the Exchange deepens its work with One Manchester developing the latest strand of its Local Exchange project in Beswick, Openshaw and Clayton.  

Royal Exchange Joint Artistic Director Bryony Shanahan opens 2023 with her vision for David Eldridge’s BEGINNING. Seen in Manchester for the first time, this tender, funny and hopeful two-hander is a celebration of the unexpected, a delightful observation of the complexity of meeting someone for the first time and the bravery of stepping into the unknown. (16th February – 11th March)

Tennessee Williams’ 1955 Pulitzer Prize winning play, CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF will also take to the stage, an astounding family drama. Now, Royal Exchange Joint Artistic Director Roy Alexander Weise brings this extraordinary story to the Exchange’s unique stage in a brand-new production for 2023. (24th March – 29th April)

Almost 70 years on, this powerful play remains as relevant today as when it was first written, its universality radiates through Williams’ sharp observations of society, capitalism, gender and love, and through his gripping characters and their complex family dynamics.

NO PAY? NO WAY! is a new version of Dario Fo and Franco Rame’s original farce by Australian writer Marieke Hardy. It had its world premiere with Sydney Theatre Company at the Sydney Opera House in February 2020, opening to rave reviews. 

A fiercely intelligent version of Dario Fo’s fast-paced 1974 farce, this contemporary play is an urgent exploration of our global economic reality. This ferocious political comedy places two incredible women Antonia and Margherita at its centre, skilfully shedding light on some of the UK’s most critical issues and exposing the reality of rising inflation and falling wages. (12th May – 10th June)

Winner of the first Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting – International Prize untitled f*ck m*ss s**gon play by Kimber Lee (the water palace, 2021 Susan Smith Blackburn Special Commendation & to the yellow house – La Jolla Playhouse) thrilled the 2019 panel of judges who said: “This opened something up for me that I’ve never seen before. It went from funny and absurd to painful and tragic and back again with such skill. It’s staring into the belly of the beast in society but in a human, warm, and utterly engaging way.” 

With breathless hilarity, the play jumps through time, wriggling inside of and then exploding lifetimes of repeating Asian stereotypes, wrestling history for the right to control your own narrative in a world that thinks it can tell you who you are. (24th June – 22nd July)

THE DEN is the Royal Exchange’s sustainable mobile theatre which will be ‘popping-up’ in Beswick this summer. Co-created by Beswick, Openshaw and Clayton Ambassadors in partnership with the Royal Exchange this beautiful eco-friendly wooden and canvas theatre will be home to a multitude of projects from community plays to workshops, readings, family events and so much more. The Den forms an integral part of the LOCAL EXCHANGE programme which is supported by The Oglesby Charitable Trust and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.  

The Exchange’s resident award-winning companies – the Young Company and Elders Company – will continue to make, shape and develop work across the year to be seen in the theatre, in the Den and across Greater Manchester. Building on the success of this year’s Dream Project, our response to the under-representation of global majority older people in our flagship Elders Company, a second DREAM PROJECT will take place in 2023 actively promoting diversity and inclusion and addressing issues of under-representation.