Maxine Peake’s new play to get London premiere

Maxine Peake’s play Beryl about the cyclist Beryl Burton will run at the Rose Theatre Kingston from March.

Burton was a Yorkshire cycling heroine, who dominated the world of cycling from the late 50s and 60s. She won the women’s world road race championship in 1960 and 1967 and was world champion five times.

Peake originally wrote the play for radio in 2012 and it opened at West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2014 as the Tour de France raced through Yorkshire. The play was Peake’s stage writing debut and the production will be directed by Rebecca Gatward with Samantha Power in the title role and Rebecca Ryan as her daughter Denise.

The daughter of Burton, Denise Burton-Cole said: “We are thrilled as it’s an outstanding play and it’s great that more people will see it”.

The play just received a nomination for best new play at the Manchester Theatre Awards.

Beryl will open on 9 March and run until the 19 March.


Maxine Peake up for Manchester Theatre Awards


Maxine Peake has been nominated for both her acting and writing in this year’s Manchester Theatre Awards.

The star is up for best actress for her role as a demonic fairy in The Skriker at the Royal Exchange theatre.

It is the second year in a row she has been up for best actress, after being nominated for playing Hamlet last year.

This year, she is also nominated for best new play for writing Beryl, about cycling champion Beryl Burton, which was staged at The Lowry in Salford.


Peake, known for TV dramas like Shameless, Silk and The Village, wrote Beryl but did not appear in it.

The play, which started life as a BBC Radio 4 drama, told the story of the woman who won seven world titles and held the UK women’s all-round title for 25 consecutive years.

The Manchester Evening News’ City Life supplement, meanwhile, has named The Skriker the best play of 2015 in its own annual awards.

In her review, the paper’s Dianne Bourne described Peake as overseeing “her debauched band of zombie fiends like a cross between Vivienne Westwood and the Virgin Queen”.

The production of Caryl Churchill’s play was part of last summer’s Manchester International Festival.

The Manchester Theatre Awards winners will be announced on 4 March.

Bolton’s Octagon theatre leads the main acting and production categories, followed closely by the Royal Exchange and Oldham Coliseum. The Lowry dominates the shortlists for visiting productions.

Manchester Theatre Awards – key categories:

Best actress

Scarlett Brookes in Educating Rita at Oldham Coliseum
Barbara Drennan in A View From The Bridge and The Family Way at Octagon Theatre, Bolton
Kathryn Hunter in Kafka’s Monkey at Home
Maxine Peake in The Skriker at the Royal Exchange

Best actor

Colin Connor in A View From The Bridge at Octagon Theatre, Bolton
Rob Edwards in An Enemy Of The People at Octagon Theatre, Bolton
Jonjo O’Neill in The Crucible at the Royal Exchange
Sam Swann in Pomona at the Royal Exchange

Best production

Educating Rita at Oldham Coliseum
An Enemy of the People at Octagon Theatre, Bolton
Rites at Contact
A View From The Bridge at Octagon Theatre, Bolton

See the full list of nominees on the Manchester Theatre Awards website.


VOTE: Best Play finalists in the CityLife Awards 2015

This year, you get to choose who takes this coveted title in our annual awards, which recognise the people and places who made the most of the last 12 months

We reckon 2015 has been a monumental year for theatre in Manchester.

Not only have our theatres created several critically acclaimed productions, but we’ve seen entirely new production houses opening – specifically HOME – and others push themselves in bold new ways under new artistic directors. Not to mention the return of the biennial Manchester International Festival.

The Best Play category was one we had quite a lot of nominations for and that caused some serious debate in CityLife Towers, too.

But in the end, we’ve picked a selection that we think show the full breadth of what Manchester theatres experienced in the past 12 months: Manchester writers, original work, bold roles taken on by local big name actors, plus the absolute best of the visiting productions.

After much debate, then, this is our final shortlist of five:
Pomona, Royal Exchange
The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night Time, The Lowry
A View From The Bridge, Bolton Octagon
The Skriker, Manchester International Festival/Royal Exchange
Golem, HOME

All that’s left to do is choose, and you can do that by picking your favourite on the form below.

Vote here: source

Giving Tuesday – Royal Exchange launches scheme to get more people attending theatre

Today is Giving Tuesday and the Royal Exchange Theatre has the perfect gift for theatre lovers.

To coincide with the global day of giving, the city centre theatre has launched a scheme called Arts Pot.

The initiative is a bursary which helps towards the cost of tickets, travel expenses, workshop and project fees for people who may not otherwise be able to attend plays and shows.

Last year, the scheme raised more than £10,000 thanks to the generosity of the venue’s audiences during interval and end-of-show ‘bucket shaking’.

Above is a short film narrated by theatre ambassador Maxine Peake, who has starred in many production and the famous theatre in the round, including Hamlet and The Skriker as part of MIF 2015, showing exactly where that cash went.

Maxine Peake as a demon faerie in The Skriker.

ARTS POT 2014 paid for:

296 People to take part in over 1000 workshops, community projects and productions

1183 people to receive free and subsidised tickets to more than 20 shows at the Royal Exchange Theatre

125 people to travel to and from the theatre throughout the year

The Royal Exchange is working with other local charities, organisations and Giving Tuesday in a steering group for ‘Manchester Gives More’ – a city initiative to make Manchester the most philanthropic city in the country.

Donations to Arts Pot can be made online or by texting EXCH16 £5 to 70070.


Maxine Peake to voiceover Royal Exchange Theatre’s production ‘Into the Woods’

Alex Gaumond, Michael Peavoy and Gillian Bevan lead the cast of the Royal Exchange Theatre’s production of Into the Woods, which will feature a voiceover by Maxine Peake.

The Stephen Sondheim musical, which has a book by James Lapine, runs at the venue from December 4 to January 16.

It is directed by associate artistic director Matthew Xia, with design by Jenny Tiramani, lighting by Ciaran Cunningham, and choreography by Jason Pennycooke.

Gaumond, who recently appeared in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park, London, will play the Baker, with Bevan as Witch and Peavoy as the Wolf and Cinderella’s Prince.

Other cast members include Michael O’Connor, Isabelle Peters, Gemma Page and Amy Ellen Richardson.

The musical marks the first time Gaumond has appeared at the Manchester-based theatre.

He told The Stage: “It will be my first time at the Royal Exchange Theatre and I couldn’t be more excited to work at such an iconic venue. I am particularly excited to see how this great musical will play in the round and can’t wait to work with director Matthew Xia, his team and our superb cast to develop a new production of this much-loved show.”

Xia described the musical as a “truly sublime” show that explores the “relationship between parents and children; desire; greed and how a community reacts to catastrophe”.

“I’m interested in our contemporary connection to this enchanted woodland,” he said.

The show’s musical director is Sean Green.


Abramorama picks up ‘Hamlet’ from Little Film Company

Good news for American fans, Hamlet is heading to the US! 🙂

The New York-based distribution outfit plans to release the film theatrically in Q1, 2016.

Abramorama has picked up US distrbution rights to the newly-filmed stage version version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, starring Maxine Peake (The Theory of Everything) and directed by Margaret Williams.

Abramorama acquired from The Little Film Company, who picked up worldwide sales rights out of this year’s Cannes Marche.

The production was filmed at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester and also stars John Shrapnel, Barbara Marten, Gillian Bevan, Katie West and Thomas Arnold. Sarah Frankcom, artistic director of the Royal Exchange Theatre, directed the stage play.

Picturehouse Entertainment opened Hamlet in the UK in March on more than 300 screens.

The film is executive produced for Genesius Pictures by Julian Gleek, Quidem Productions by Ralph Bernard and Simon Cooper, Royal Exchange Theatre by Fiona Gasper, and produced by Anne Beresford and Debbie Gray.

Richard Abramowitz, president of Abramorama, negotiated the deal with Robbie Little, co-president of The Little Film Company.


Maxine Peake as Hamlet – DVD & Digital Release on Monday 7th September!

In case you haven’t heard, ‘Hamlet’ with Maxine Peake in the leading role will be released on DVD THIS MONDAY!

It’s a fantastic production and not to be missed!

In March, the film was shown in over 300 cinemas across the UK, selling out in many screens and gaining 4 and 5 star film reviews. You can buy your copy in shops or online via amazon UK.

Watch the official trailer here:

Photo Credit: Jonathan Keenan

Thanks to Jess for emailing us about it!

BBC Radio 4 Clip: The attraction of Hamlet

Big-name actors rush to play the grumpy Dane, and the star of Sherlock and the Imitation Game – Benedict Cumberbatch – is next, performing a the Barbican Theatre.

David Tennant, Jude Law, Simon Russell Beale and Maxine Peake have played the part recently and Kenneth Branagh and Jonathan Miller have also staged the play to acclaim. What is the attraction of the role? We try to answer using the talents of Simon Russell Beale who has a list of many of those who’ve played the doubting prince on stage.

The clip is available here.

Maxine Peake among the 9 of the best Hamlets ever!

Maxine Peake
‘I’ve had emails from actresses saying thanks for doing this,’ Peake told us last year. ‘But, lovely as that is, it wasn’t a feminist statement. I just thought, why not?’ That kind of sums it all up, because Peake pulls out a performance that will rival any Hamlet that came before her. She’s fierce, but vulnerable, cutting and ferocious, proving so many more women should play Hamlet.