Maxine Peake
Maxine Peake
© Royal Exchange Theatre

This autumn sees Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre unveil their new season under the leadership of Sarah Frankcom the Exchange's sole Artistic Director.

One of the highlight's of the new season is the opener - Hamlet starring Maxine Peake in the title role, which was previously announced, alongside Little Shop of Horrors, Cat On a Hot Tin Roof and new play Scuttlers.

Sarah Frankcom said: "It's vital we continue to reinvent the way we make, develop and deliver our artistic programme. Alongside some bold, inclusive and popular shows we continue to open the Exchange up to new ideas and new artists.

"We are launching new projects that celebrate the creative potential of Manchester's communities, young people and elders. We will also be deepening our relationship with our audiences in a massive year long creative conversation breaking down barriers between those that make work and those that experience it."

The season opens with William Shakespeare's Hamlet which runs from 11 September to 18 October. Shakespeare's most iconic features Maxine Peake in the title role in this bold re-imagining of the ultimate play about loyalty, love, betrayal, murder and madness.

Maxine will also be joining the Company as an Associate Artist this autumn. Her new role will draw on her considerable talents as one of the nation's best-loved actors and also as a writer. It will include opportunities for her to get involved in the theatre's pioneering work with community groups and young people - and work with young actors from across the city.

Hamlet is followed by a new production of Tennessee William's Pulitzer Prize-winning classic Cat On a Hot Tin Roof. Presented by the Royal Exchange Theatre in a co-production with Royal and Derngate, Northampton and Northern Stage, the production runs from 30 October to 29 November.

Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer Prize-winning play is fuelled by drinking, desire and deceit. James Dacre – Artistic Director at the Royal and Derngate Theatre - returns to the Royal Exchange to direct the production, following the success of The Accrington Pals in 2013.

The season continues with a new Christmas production of hit musical comedy Little Shop of Horrors from 5 December 2014 to 24 January 2015.

With a book and lyrics by Howard Ashman, music by Alan Menken and based on the film by Roger Corman with a screenplay by Charles Griffith, this 1950s musical comedy is one of the longest running off-Broadway shows of all time. The story centres on down and out florist's assistant Seymour who becomes an overnight sensation when he discovers an exotic plant with a macabre craving. The production is directed by rising star Derek Bond.

The season concludes with Scuttlers – Rona Munro's new play which runs from 5 February to 7 March 2015. It tells the story of the Scuttlers who were Manchester's original gangs. Throughout the 1870s and beyond, the streets of Openshaw, Gorton, Ancoats and Salford were terrorised by rival groups of young mill workers fighting for control. With their bell-bottoms and floppy caps they fought with blades, fists, feet and the heavy ends of their leather belts.

The production is directed by Wils Wilson. Rona Munro has written extensively for stage, radio, film and television including the trilogy The James Plays for the National Theatre of Scotland, The National Theatre of Great Britain and the Edinburgh International Festival. Her theatrical adaptation of Mrs Gaskill's novel, Mary Barton was produced at the Royal Exchange in 2006.

Full details of the new season in The Studio at The Royal Exchange Theatre will be announced soon but this includes Crocodiles by Lee Mattinson from 30 September to 18 October.

The drama of this startling new play finds Cornelia busy knitting a world for herself in a sleepy seaside town. Punch and Judy are playing by the pier, witches are being burnt in the town centre, and crocodiles are lurking in the shadows.

The production is directed by Ng Choon Ping and was the winner of the inaugural Royal Exchange Hodgkiss Award, which celebrates the unique collaboration between a writer and director.

For further details about the new season, please visit the Royal Exchange website. Booking opens in early May to the public.