Theatre News

Sheila Hancock, Grounded & 3 Little Pigs in Royal Exchange Studio Season

Celebrated stage and screen actress is in conversation, new plays and a new spin on a celebrated fairy tale all feature in the Royal Exchange Studio new season.

Sheila Hancock
Sheila Hancock
© Royal Exchange Theatre

Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre has announced it's new Studio Season and highlights include Sheila Hancock in Conversation with Jenni Murray, the Gate Theatre's production of Grounded; and 3 Little Pigs – Stuff and Nonsense Theatre Company’s Christmas show for children.

But first up is Crocodiles – which runs from 30 September to 18 October – 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.

This 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.

Beckie Darlington presents Gate Theatre's production of Grounded which runs from 4 – 8 November. This new play targets our assumptions about war, family, and what it is to be a woman. The central character is a hot-rod F16 fighter pilot. She’s pregnant. Her career in the sky is over. Now, she sits in an air-conditioned trailer in Las Vegas flying remote-controlled drones over the Middle East. She struggles through surreal 12-hour shifts far from the battlefield hunting terrorists by day and being a wife and mother by night.

Christmas see Stuff and Nonsense Theatre Company stage 3 Little Pigs from 18 December to 3 January.

This adaptation of the famous children’s story takes its inspiration from 1970s children’s TV programmes such as Vision On, Pipkins, Rainbow and Bod.

Other special events programmed in The Theatre include an evening of storytelling for children with Daniel Mordern; In Conversation evenings with Sheila Hancock and Shami Chakrabarti and a programme of music presented by Manchester Camerata.

Professional storyteller Daniel Mordern brings his Dark Tales from the Woods to the Exchange on 10 October at 10.30am. Aimed at children in Years 5 and 6, the show is an anthology of fairy tales of the kind that have been told by the fireside for hundreds of years – tales of enchantment, mystery and danger, where ordinary people triumph through their own bravery and native wit.

Manchester Literature Festival presents Sheila Hanock In Conversation with Jenni Murray on Friday 17 October at 1pm. One of the UK's best loved actors, Hancock has enjoyed a long and successful career both on stage and screen. In recent years, she’s also become a best-selling author with a number of acclaimed memoirs including Ramblings of an Actress, The Two of Us and Just Me.

This autumn, she publishes her debut novel, Miss Carter's War which chronicles the extraordinary life of one woman on a mission – to fight social injustice, prevent war and educate her girls from the CND marches of the 1950s to the war in Iraq.

Liberty, The University of Manchester and the Royal Exchange present On Liberty: Shami Chakrabarti In Conversation on Tuesday 18 November at 7.30pm.

The director of the UK’s leading civil rights organisation will be exploring why our fundamental rights and freedoms are indispensable. Drawing on her own work in high-profile campaigns she looks at the threats to our democratic institutions and why our rights are paramount in upholding democracy.

The Exchange will also be hosting Liberty80 – The Anniversary Exhibition on the Mezzanine Gallery from October to December.

The free exhibition will celebrate 80 years of Liberty holding the powerful to account, showing battles fought and won for freedom, fairness, justice and equality, with some striking parallels between 1934 and the present day.

Manchester Camerata presents UpClose – Challenging the Senses on Sunday 1 March at 3pm.

The event – which will include the work of George Crumb, Shostakovich and Haydn – will challenge those attending to experience the performance in a completely different way. Audience members will be given the option to immerse themselves in the music by wearing a blindfold.