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Royal Exchange's new director Selina Cartmell


Selina Cartmell, new ceative director at Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre
Selina Cartmell, new ceative director at Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre

Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre has appointed award-winning theatre maker Selina Cartmell as its first creative director.

The new role is part of an extensive reorganisation of the theatre's management structure, part of which has involved the scrapping of artistic directors. Cartmell will take up her role in August, with her first programme beginning in 2026 for the theatre’s 50th anniversary year.

Selina Cartmell grew up in Cumbria. She studied drama and history of art at Trinity College in Dublin and Glasgow University and graduated with an MA from Central School of Speech and Drama in advanced theatre directing.

From 2016-2022 she was artistic director of the Gate Theatre in Dublin, where she programmed and commissioned productions with leading Irish and International talent and grew audiences.

As a freelance director her work has included Shakespeare, classic revivals, new writing, musical theatre and opera for venues including the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal Court in London, the Unicorn, Curve Theatre in Leicester, the Lyric Belfast and the Abbey Theatre.

She said: "I am thrilled to be joining the Royal Exchange at such an important and exciting time. As a teenager, I vividly remember the first time I sat in its unique and immersive auditorium and experienced the power of its artist-audience relationship.

"My ambition for the Royal Exchange is for it to be an inclusive home that attracts the best of emerging and established talent to connect and inspire audiences and communities old and new."

Royal Exchange Theatre chief executive Steve Freeman said: "I am excited about Selina’s appointment. She brings a wealth of experience and her inspiring vision excited us.

She demonstrated a deep understanding and respect for the extraordinary artistic legacy of the Royal Exchange Theatre and is passionate about the theatre’s relationship with audiences."


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