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Braham Murray to leave Royal Exchange in 2012

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Braham Murray has announced that he is to step down as artistic director of the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester after 35 years leading the company.

Murray has spent the majority of his professional career at the Royal Exchange, which he founded in 1976.

He first made his name writing and directing the revue Hang Down Your Head, initially 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 was involved in the creation of the 69 Theatre Company – which ultimately became the Royal Exchange Theatre Company – staging a total of 19 productions at Manchester’s University Theatre.

Since the Exchange was founded in 1976, he has run the theatre in conjunction with a number of other leading directors. 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.

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.”

Murray will leave after a 12-month period of notice in July 2012. His final project as an Exchange artistic director will be the musical Wonderful Town in collaboration wit the Halle Orchestra and the Lowry.

Tom Courtenay, who has worked with Murray at 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. I’m sure he will want to come back in some capacity.”

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