After twenty years of working at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre, Sarah Frankcom has announced that she is stepping down as the theatre’s Artistic Director. Frankcom joined the Company as Literary Manager in 1998; ten years later she was made Joint Artistic Director and in 2014 took up her current position as sole Artistic Director.
Frankcom is leaving the Royal Exchange to become the new Director of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. In her time as an Artistic Director at the Royal Exchange Theatre, she has been praised for her brave and bold programming and for connecting the work of the theatre with both audiences and communities across Greater Manchester.
On her decision to leave the Royal Exchange Theatre, Sarah Frankcom said, “My last four years at the Royal Exchange have been the most fulfilling and exhilarating of my career to date. The Theatre has allowed me to focus on my passions of nurturing new work and developing next-generation theatre talent, whilst collaborating with some amazing artists and sharing work with an increasingly wide range of audiences. I’m immensely proud of the strides the Company has taken on and off our stages, increasing representation in both the stories we share with audiences, the artists we make work with, and the meaningful way in which we now work with, and listen to the communities we serve. The Exchange is in a really positive place and confidently embraces creative adventure. The time is ripe for fresh ideas and a new imagination to explore the possibilities of our iconic spaces, and lead the Company to new places artistically in partnership with our inspiring Executive Director, Steve Freeman.”
“There are very few jobs I would feel excited about leaving the Exchange for, but my background in teaching and enduring appetite for finding new and innovative ways of developing the widest variety of theatre talent, made the offer to lead LAMDA, and reimagine what drama training might be in the future, too enticing a challenge to pass up. I can’t wait to see what the Exchange accomplishes next, and know that whoever the next Artistic Director is, they will be enabled and supported by the finest of theatre colleagues, artists and audiences.”
With her support of new writing, especially the development of the Bruntwood Playwriting Competition and her eclectic and innovative programming of the main house, including award-winning musicals, Frankcom’s departure will be felt not only in Manchester but across the theatre sector as a whole.
Frankcom’s announcement that she is leaving the Royal Exchange Theatre follows the departures of Elizabeth Newman from the Octagon Theatre, Bolton and Kevin Shaw from the Oldham Coliseum. It will be interesting to see over the coming months how the next generation of artistic directors in Greater Manchester make their mark.
News of Frankcom’s departure comes in the same week as she confirmed casting for her almost sold out run of West Side Story, which is running at the Royal Exchange Theatre from 6 April to 25 May and features in the roles of Maria and Tony, Gabriela Garcia recently seen in the West End production of Strictly Ballroom and West End musical theatre veteran, Andy Coxon.
Richard Hall | Image: Johan Persson