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.

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Royal Exchange wins theatre of the year

Royal Exchange wins theatre of the year

Manchester’s Royal Exchange has been named regional theatre of the year at The Stage Awards.

The venue beat the Chichester Festival Theatre and Northampton’s Royal and Derngate to the honour.

Actress Maxine Peake, who won rave reviews for her role in The Skriker at the theatre last year, collected the award at the London ceremony along with artistic director Sarah Frankcom.

In The Skriker, Peake was described as “a cross between Vivienne Westwood and the Virgin Queen”

The Almeida Theatre was also named London theatre of the year.

It beat Shakespeare’s Globe and the Barbican for its hit Greeks season, which achieved both critical and box office success as well as a West End transfer of the Oresteia.

The Stage’s editor, Alistair Smith, said the quality of work over the past year had made it “really tricky” for the judges.

‘Meteoric arrival’

The Other Room – Cardiff’s first pub theatre – won fringe theatre of the year – the first venue outside London to win the prize.

Opened in February 2015, the judges described the 44-person capacity venue’s first year as a “meteoric arrival” on the theatre scene.

Sonia Friedman was named producer of the year for the second year. In 2015 she was behind nine UK shows, including the new West End musical Bend It Like Beckham and Benedict Cumberbatch’s Hamlet at the Barbican.

The National Theatre won two awards – the international award for its collaboration with the National Theatre of China on a Chinese production of War Horse; and the theatre building of the year prize for its NT Future regeneration project.

Arts Educational Schools London collected the school of the year award and stage manager Roger Miller was named unsung hero for his work in saving the Felixstowe Spa Pavilion Theatre.

Here are this year’s winners in full:

London theatre of the year – Almeida Theatre

Fringe theatre of the year – The Other Room, Cardiff

Regional theatre of the year – Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester

Producer of the year – Sonia Friedman

International award – War Horse China

School of the year – Arts Educational Schools London

Theatre building of the year – NT Future

Unsung Hero – Roger Miller

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Maxine Peake up for Manchester Theatre Awards

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Win a copy of HAMLET featuring Maxine Peake on DVD

To mark the DVD and VOD release of Maxine Peake as HAMLET in Sarah Frankcom’s acclaimed stage production at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester. Britflicks is delighted to have 3 copies to give away.

The compelling stage-to-screen film, directed by Margaret Williams(Peter Grimes on Aldeburgh Beach, One Man Walking), sees Maxine Peake (The Theory of Everything, The Village, Silk) in the title role of Shakespeare’s iconic play, in which Hamlet, consumed by despair, struggles to exact revenge for his father’s murder, with devastating consequences.

The strong, poignant production depicts intense family drama and the power of grief. Maxine Peake’s fierce and textured Hamlet imbues the role with anger, indignation and purpose. Filmed with eight cameras by an expert team, the film captures the intensity of the stage production with all the polish and care of a feature film.

Directed by award-winning Artistic Director of the Royal Exchange Theatre Sarah Frankcom (Masque of Anarchy, Punk Rock, The Skriker), HAMLET played to sell-out houses throughout its run at the Royal Exchange. A stripped-back, fast-paced version, with moments of humour which rebalanced the gender casting, HAMLET received four and five-star reviews across the board.

Sarah Frankcom comments: “As a director I think you can only begin to think about doing HAMLET if you are absolutely passionate about a particular actor. Right from the beginning of this production it felt like a thrilling opportunity to explore, excavate and interrogate something with Maxine Peake, the most fearless and most courageous actor that I’ve ever worked with.”

Maxine Peake was BAFTA-nominated for her performance in Hancock and Joan and is hugely respected for her performances in Red Riding and as Myra Hindley in See No Evil. She has a long relationship with the Royal Exchange Theatre and is now an Associate Artist. In 2014, her play Berylwas performed at West Yorkshire Playhouse.

To be in with a chance of winning a copy of HAMLET on DVD answer the following question.

HAMLET is played by what actress?

a) Maxine Evans

b) Maxin Trough

c) Maxine Peake

Email your answer to competitions@britflicks.com with HAMLET as the subject. Competition closes at midnight on Monday 21 September 2015.

HAMLET is available on DVD & VOD from 7 September 2015.

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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!

‪#‎RXYC‬ panel discussion with Maxine Peake, Matthew Xia and Sarah Frankcom