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Braham Murray Leaves The Royal Exchange

Long-term artistic director to step down in 2012

Published on June 24th 2011.

Braham Murray Leaves The Royal Exchange

Confidential has had this from the Royal Exchange.

‘Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre today announced that its founding Artistic Director Braham Murray is to step down after 35 years with the company.

The Royal Exchange is the longest running group theatre in the world – a concept he has always championed. 

‘Murray has devoted the whole of his career to the foundation and subsequently to the direction of the Royal Exchange. Since its inception in 1976, he has been at the forefront of the company – championing its work, steering it through the difficult years following the 1996 IRA bombing and leading it to its present position as a theatre of with a big reputation.

‘He first made his name writing and directing the phenomenally successful revue Hang Down Your Head, first in Oxford and then in the West End and on Broadway. This led to him becoming the youngest artistic director in the country when he took over the Century Theatre aged 22.

'In 1968 he went on to become a key figure in the creation of the influential 69 Theatre Company – which ultimately became the Royal Exchange Theatre Company – staging a total of 19 productions at Manchester’s University Theatre (many of which transferred to London).

‘Over four decades his work has included everything from classics to musicals and full scale operas and he has worked with many of the country’s leading actors – including Sir Tom Courtenay, Vanessa Redgrave, John Mills, Judi Dench, Maureen Lipman, Amanda Donohoe, Robert Lindsay, Andy Serkis and Brenda Blethyn. In 2010 he received an OBE for services to theatre.

‘At the Exchange, he has always worked part of an artistic team. The Royal Exchange is the longest running group theatre in the world – a concept he has always championed. The original group included James Maxwell, Michael Elliott, Richard Negri and Casper Wrede and, over the years, other names have included Nicholas Hytner, Marianne Elliott and Phylida Lloyd. He currently works alongside fellow artistic directors Greg Hersov and Sarah Frankcom.

‘His recent successes include Edna O’Brien’s Haunted - with Brenda Blethyn (revived for a run in Dublin, on national tour, in New York and Sydney) – The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, also with Brenda Blethyn (at the Exchange and on national tour), the Exchange’s acclaimed world premiere of Brad Fraser’s True Love Lies and Mike Poulton’s new version of The Bacchae.

‘Commenting on his departure he said: “The Company has been going through a highly successful artistic period. I leave it in good hands. I will never leave it in spirit.”

‘Chairman of the Royal Exchange, Paul Lee explained that Braham had felt it was now a good time to step down. After a 12 month period of notice, he will be leaving in July 2012. His final project as an Exchange Artistic Director will be to take the helm for the classic Bernstein musical WONDERFUL TOWN in a remarkable collaboration between the Royal Exchange, the Halle Orchestra and the Lowry (to be staged at the Lowry in April 2012 followed by a national tour).

‘Sir Tom Courtenay – who worked with Braham many times with both the 69 Theatre Company and the Royal Exchange – said: “The Royal Exchange is the most exciting theatre space in the country - I recently did my one-man show about Phillip Larkin and the night at the Exchange was certainly the most enjoyable experience of the tour. The space is unique - as its founding Artistic Director, Braham has had a huge hand in making the Exchange happen and keeping it going.” 

This is the official press release. We’ll be taking a look at the state of Manchester theatreland in the next few weeks. Is it healthy? Are there problems? That sort of thing.

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