Theatre News

Tolstoy and Told By an Idiot in Royal Exchange New Season

”Anna Karenina” and ”The Ghost Train” in Royal Exchange new season, following the huge success of their biggest selling show in ten years, ”Hamlet.”

The Theatre
The Theatre
© Royal Exchange Theatre

Sarah Frankcom's second season as the Royal Exchange Theatre’s sole Artistic Director features a mix of classics reinvented new pieces for emerging voices.

The season includes a co-production of a classic adaptation directed Ellen McDougall; returning favourites Told by an Idiot; first outings for two Bruntwood Prize winners, a collaboration with the Manchester International Festival 2015 and a Royal Exchange Young Company collaboration with poet and novelist, Jackie Kay.

The season launches with Olivier-nominated Ellen McDougall directing Jo Clifford’s stripped-back, contemporary adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel Anna Karenina – a Royal Exchange Theatre and West Yorkshire Playhouse co-production.

This is the Exchange’s second collaboration with WYP following Sweeney Todd . Anna Karenina runs from 19 March – 2 May 2015 and transfers to Leeds on 13 May.

Anna is the envy of St. Petersburg society. Glamorous and admired, but locked in a loveless marriage, her sudden and passionate love affair with Count Vronsky turns her world on its head and puts at risk everything she has ever known.

Ellen McDougall makes her Royal Exchange debut with this stripped-back and contemporary version of what many describe as one of the greatest novels ever written.

McDougall received an Olivier nomination for her 2010 production of Ivan and the Dogs (ATC, Soho, UK tour and Rustaveli Theatre, Georgia). Other recent credits include Telling Tales (Almeida); Philoctetes (Unicorn); Spring Awakening and Idomeneus (Gate Theatre).

Playing alongside Karenina, is 2013 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting winner The Rolling Stone by Chris Urch which runs in the theatre from 21 April to 1 May 2015.

Also directed by Ellen McDougall – and with the same company of actors – it tells a very different story of lovers at odds with society.

Dembe and Sam have been seeing each other for a while. They should be wondering where this is going and when to introduce each other to their families. But they’re gay and this is Uganda and the consequences of being discovered promises to be violent and explosive.

The season continues with a reboot of Arnold Ridley’s The Ghost Train which runs in The Theatre from 14 May to 20 June 2015.

The production is presented in association with theatre company Told by an Idiot (previous Royal Exchange credits include You Can't Take It With You and Too Clever By Half) who bring their trademark wit to this classic ghost story.

The story follows a group of passengers who are left stranded at a remote railway station, facing the prospect of a night in the waiting room. But when the old stationmaster warns them about the phantom train that haunts the tracks after dark, the evening starts to take one chilling turn after another.

Told by an Idiot Artistic Director Paul Hunter, who directs the production, said: "The Ghost Train is not normally the kind of play that would be produced in the round. The challenge of staging action that would normally happen off stage and of using every inch of that extraordinary space will be really thrilling."

2013 Bruntwood Prize Winner Yen by Anna Jordan – plays in The Studio from 18 February – 7 March – and explores a childhood lived without boundaries and the consequences of being forced to grow up on your own.

It tells the story of sixteen-year-old Hench and thirteen-year-old Bobbie who live alone with their dog Taliban, playing Playstation, watching porn; surviving. Occasionally their chaotic mum Maggie visits, sometimes she passes out on the front lawn. But when Jenny knocks on the door, the boys discover a world far beyond what they know, a world full of love, possibility and danger.

The production is directed by Ned Bennett, who is previously a resident trainee director at the Royal Court, and his recent credits include Superior Donuts (Southwark Playhouse) and Mercury Fur (Old Red Lion).

The new season will also see the Royal Exchange Theatre and Manchester International Festival collaborate on a new piece of theatre for MIF15. It will be staged in The Theatre from 3 July to 1 August 2015. It follows on from the acclaimed MIF/RET co-production of The Masque of Anarchy and further details will be announced in the New Year.

A full Spring Summer programme in The Studio is also yet to be announced but one of the highlights is Brink – a Royal Exchange Young Company collaboration with poet and novelist, Jackie Kay which runs in March.

Public Booking for the new season opens on Monday 24 November 2014.