Maxine Peake to play Blanche DuBois in Royal Exchange Theatre’s opening RET40 show

Amazing news has just been announced!

Associate Artist Maxine Peake opens the Royal Exchange’s 40th anniversary season with her portrayal of iconic female protagonist Blanche DuBois in Tennessee Williams’ 1947 Pulitzer Prize winning masterpiece A STREET CAR NAMED DESIRE.

This production sees Exchange Artistic Director Sarah Frankcom and long-term collaborator Peake join forces once again to tackle one of modern dramas greatest plays. The production opens at the Royal Exchange on the 8 September and runs until 15 October.

Peake said of taking on the role…
Blanche DuBois is a monumental woman, complex, multi-layered and beautifully painted by Williams in this staggering play. Finding out who she is and developing her in a rehearsal room with a brilliant and generous director like Sarah is a thrilling journey to go on. I can’t wait to start.

This production reunites the incredible creative partnership behind acclaimed productions THE SKRIKER, HAMLET (Royal Exchange) and THE MASQUE OF ANARCHY (MIF 2013).

Sarah Frankcom commented…
This is an earthquake of a play that lays bare the extremes and contradictions of being human: desire and love, truth and delusion, hope and despair. I’m thrilled that this production will build on my creative collaboration with Maxine Peake. She’s a rare and fearless actor. I am positive we will create something electrifying for our intimate and unique space.


BBC Radio 3 airing ‘The Skriker’ starring Maxine Peake – 20 March 2016

BBC Radio 3 airing ‘The Skriker’ starring Maxine Peake – 20 March 2016


“Long before that, long before England was an idea, a country of snow and wolves where trees sang and birds talked and people knew we mattered…”

In a broken world, two sisters Lily and Josie meet an extraordinary creature. The Skriker is a shape-shifter, an ancient fairy. She can be an old woman, a child, a man, a death portent. She has come from the Underworld to pursue, seduce and entrap them, through time and space, through this world and her own.

Whilst speaking English in its human incarnations, the Skriker’s own language consists of broken and fragmented word play. Blending naturalism, horror and magical realism, it is a story of love, loss and revenge.

The Skriker….Maxine Peake
Lily…. Danusia Samal
Josie…. Laura Elsworthy
Choir Master…. Stuart Overington
The Hag…. Jessica Walker
Choir….Alaka Prodhun, Charlie Green, Charlotte Beale, Elizabeth Barry, Joanna Griffins, Justina Aina, Olivia Avouris and Rebekah Davies

The Skriker by Caryl Churchill was first produced by The Royal Exchange Theatre as part of the 2015 Manchester International Festival directed by Sarah Frankcom. It was adapted for radio by Caryl Churchill and directed by Sarah Frankcom.

Producer/Susan Roberts for the BBC


Maxine Peake: ‘Women are better than men at running theatres’

Maxine Peake has claimed women are better at running theatres than men because they are more adept at multitasking and often have smaller egos.

Sarah Frankcom and Maxine Peake at The Stage Awards 2016. Photo: Eliza Power

Peake was speaking at The Stage Awards about the work of Sarah Frankcom at Manchester’s Royal Exchange, a theatre she has worked with on a number of occasions. The actor said women were instinctively better at “keeping all the balls in the air”.

She told The Stage: “I just think actually women are probably better for running buildings, because they can multitask. And I think – without sounding terribly sexist, and I’m not saying across the board – they generally have a smaller ego.”

She continued: “There are female theatre directors out there with huge egos, I know. But I think they can deal with a building [better], because they’ve got that instinct of keeping all the balls in the air, and I think that suits women’s strengths.”

Peake was attending The Stage Awards with Frankcom, where the Royal Exchange was named regional theatre of the year.

The Bolton-born actor is an associate artist at the Manchester venue, and has repeatedly performed there over the course of her career – most recently in a staging of Caryl Churchill’s The Skriker.

Peake also voiced frustration that theatres in Manchester are not recognised at the Olivier Awards, and said the awards should be expanded to include theatres nationwide.

She explained: “I get so annoyed because theatre is so London centric. People say to me: ‘Oooh, you’re not doing another play in Manchester?’. Well, why not? It’s a great place to be doing it, and there’s a regular audience there.

“But I think awards like the Oliviers – why should they just be London? It’s shocking. They’re televised. It should be nationwide. It’s like: let’s all just celebrate theatre that’s in London – well, it’s not always the best to be honest.”

She went on to suggest that critics of regional theatre failed to recognise that theatres outside of London have fewer resources.

“What people don’t take into account is in the regions we have less money, we have less time,” Peake said.

She added: “For a big show like Hamlet, we had five weeks. If you do it at the National, you get nine weeks. And then people review it on the same basis. And you think: we had two previews and then press night, they had two weeks and then press night. So let’s just put things into perspective.”


Moving Stories- A fundraising performance for the United Nations Refugee Agency

Moving Stories- A fundraising performance for the United Nations Refugee Agency

This Valentine’s Day, top names from the British stage are coming together to help raise funds for the UN refugee agency (UNHCR).

With brand new and much loved work from Richard Bean, David Edgar and more, Moving Stories will see a host of stars perform in aid of the current overwhelming global refugee crisis – the largest since the Second World War.

    The afternoon will include performances from:

Maxine Peake, Zubin Varla, Ray Fearon, Rufus Hound, Hattie Morahan, Andy Nyman, Adjoa Andoh, Noma Dumezweni, Anna-Jane Casey, Natalie Casey, Liza Goddard, James Bolam, Susan Jameson, Di Botcher and Macy Nyman.

    All proceeds will go to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) to provide much needed support and assistance to refugees.

Buy tickets by clicking the “Source” button below-

Rose Theatre Kingston to Stage London Premiere of BERYL

Today Rose Theatre Kingston in association with West Yorkshire Playhouse announces the London première of BERYL, Maxine Peake’s critically-acclaimed play celebrating the life of sporting legend Beryl Burton – the greatest woman on two wheels. BERYL was nominated for best new play at the Manchester Theatre Awards today.

Rebecca Gatward directs the cast in a play about the loves, trials and tribulations of the down-to-earth Yorkshire cycling heroine with Samantha Power in the title role and Rebecca Ryan as her daughter Denise. The cast also features Dominic Gately and Lee Toomes.

Originally written for Radio 4 in 2012, BERYL opened at West Yorkshire Playhouse in summer 2014, just as the Tour de France was racing through Yorkshire. The critical and popular acclaim was such that the idea was born to revive and tour the production in 2015 before its London premiere here at the Rose in March 2016.

Peake’s stage writing debut looks back at the extraordinary sporting achievements of the Leeds-born cyclist. When Beryl Charnock, met keen cyclist Charlie Burton she was smitten, not only with Charlie but by the thrill and freedom found on her bike. She would outwork the men in the rhubarb fields, she could outclass the cyclists on the road, and still find time to over-knit young Denise an enviable cycling jumper.

No other British sportswoman has dominated their field in the way that Beryl Burton dominated the world of cycling. With her husband, daughter and cycling club at her side she became five times world pursuit champion, 13 times national champion, twice road-racing world champion and made it home in time for dinner. She was one of the most astonishing sports people ever to have lived whose down-to-earth, no-nonsense approach to life and to success is an inspiration to us all.

Beryl Burton MBE, OBE, wife and mother cycled her way into the record books becoming world record holder and former British record holder, and with a determination to be the best she always cycled home a hero.

Beryl’s daughter Denise Burton-Cole welcomes the revival of the play, “We are thrilled as it’s an outstanding play and it’s great that more people will see it”.

Maxine Peake has a career that spans stage, TV and film, garnering critical acclaim in roles as diverse as Dinnerladies’ Twinkle and Silk’s Martha Costello QC. She won the Broadcasting Press Guild Awards for her performances in Criminal Justice and The Street. Her other television credits include See No Evil: The Moors Murders, Red Riding, The Devil’s Whore, Criminal Justice, Little Dorrit, Henry IV, The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister, BAFTA nominated dramas Silk, The Village, Room at the Top, Hancock & Joan, The Street and Shameless. She starred in features Private Peaceful, Run and Jump, Keeping Rosy, Svengali, The Theory of Everything and The Falling. Hamlet, filmed during the run at the Royal Exchange, was released in cinemas March 2015. She has performed at some of the most prestigious theatres in the country including The Cherry Orchard, The Relapse and Luther (The National Theatre), The Deep Blue Sea and Hamlet (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Mother Theresa is Dead (Royal Court), The Children’s Hour (Royal Exchange) and Miss Julie (Theatre Royal Haymarket/Royal Exchange). This is Peake’s stage writing debut.

Rebecca Gatward directs. Her theatre credits include The Merry Wives of Windsor (Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre, Chester, summer 2015); Beryl (West Yorkshire Playhouse) The Trial Of Dennis The Menace (Southbank Centre); The Comedy Of Errors, The Merchant Of Venice (Shakespeare’s Globe); Pandas (Traverse Theatre); The Indian Boy (RSC Complete Works Festival); The Canterbury Tales directed in partnership with Greg Doran and Jonathan Munby and Thyestes for The Other Place (RSC); Touched (Salisbury Playhouse); Cancer Tales (New Wolsey); The Accrington Pals (WYP). She also restaged This Is Our Youth with Matt Damon and Casey Affleck at the Garrick Theatre.
Her work for television includes Eastenders (winner Broadcast award and soap award nominations for best episode and scene), Casualty, Doctors and Sadie J.

Samantha Power plays Beryl. Her theatre work includes Accrington Pals, Coming Around Again, Me, As a Penguin, It’s a Lovely Day Tomorrow (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Zack (Royal Exchange), Little Britain Live (UK and Australian Tour), Flint Street Nativity (Liverpool Playhouse); School Daze (Riverside Studios); It’s a Fine Bright Day Today (Oldham Coliseum); Raw,Kid (Theatre Absolute). Her television credits include Coronation Street, Ordinary Lies, 4 O’Clock club, All at Sea, Shameless, Little Britain, Waterloo Road, The Cup, In With the Flynns, Twisted Tales, The Mimic, Prisoners Wives. Her film credits include The Low Down and Mischief Night.

Rebecca Ryan plays Denise. Her theatre credits include Solace of the Road (Derby Theatre); A Taste of Honey (Hull Truck); Lost Monsters (Liverpool Everyman); Scarborough (Royal Court Theatre); Tommy (Manchester Palace). Her television credits include DCI Banks, Monroe, Waterloo Road, Emmerdale (ITV), Shameless and State of Play (BBC).

Dominic Gately plays Nim. Dominic trained at Guildford School of Acting. He appeared in the original cast of Beryl at West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2014 and in the 2015 revival. His other extensive theatre credits include: Absent Friends and The Sunshine Boys (Oldham Coliseum) Perfect Light, Time Moghul Gardens, Basil, Meggie and the Most Beautiful Man in the World, and Castaway Cafè (Slung Low Theatre), The Pillars of Society (Dale Theatre), An Absolute Turkey (Electric Theatre), Hamlet (Attic Theatre), Othello (Nottingham Playhouse), Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare 4 Kids), The Crucible, Refugee Boy, Scuffer, Monkey! and Company Along the Mile (West Yorkshire Playhouse), The Good Person of Sichuan (Colchester Mercury), A View From the Bridge, The Deep Blue Sea, Loot and The Birthday Party (Keswick Theatre-by-the-Lake), The Weir (Stoke New Victoria), Kes (Liverpool Playhouse/Touring Consortium) and The Diary of Anna Frank (York Theatre Royal/Touring Consortium), The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (York Theatre Royal/Pilot Theatre). Dominic has also taken part in many rehearsed readings and workshopped new writing for many theatres around the country. In Film and Television he has appeared in Coronation Street (Granada) Virus 2050 (LSB Productions), Waterloo Road (Shed Productions), Emmerdale and The Royal (ITV Yorkshire), Paradox (Clerkenwell Films for BBC) Walk Like a Panther (Finite Films)

Lee Toomes plays Charlie. Lee trained at The Arden School of Theatre. Theatre credits include: One-Man Show Before The Leaves Fall (Space2); A Christmas Carol, When I’m cleaning Windows (Northeast Productions Tour); The House Behind The Lines (Buglight Theatre); Santa’s Grotty (Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith); The Fanny Hill Project (Theatre State); All through A Glass Of Port, No Exit (Hands On Theatre Company); Engagement With Murder, Up ‘N’ Under (Lamproom Theatre); Blood Brothers (WLT); Comedy Of Errors (On Your Toes); Not Hard To Die, Charade, Behind Closed Doors, Ruby Quicksilver (Jaba); Illyria, Romeo And Juliet, A Chorus Of Disapproval, The Good Person Of Szechwan whilst training. Television and film credits include: The Driver (Red Productions); In The Flesh (BBC3); The Syndicate (Rollem Productions); Shameless (Channel 4), The Body Farm (BBC); Jobseekers (YPS Media); The Downward Spiral Of Kevin Lames, Finding Vivian (National Media Museum); Snowball (TM Productions).