1 – 25 December 2020
From 10.30am daily
Free on the Royal Exchange website and social media channels.  

Created by an incredible collection of professional artists and community participants, this year the countdown to Christmas from the Royal Exchange Theatre will be filled with stories that celebrate the streets and voices of Greater Manchester in ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS. From tales of contemporary city-centre tower blocks to the terraces of Glebe Street in Leigh, each day behind an advent calendar door, a short section of a story will be revealed - a story filled with hope, joy and a little Christmas magic from some of the most inspiring artists from, and connected to, Greater Manchester. ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS is free to watch from 1 December – just wait for the door to open and the story will begin.

Maxine Peake and Gurjeet Singh

Bringing together film makers, directors, musicians, writers, performers, dancers, sound, costume and lighting designers, producers, dramaturgs, community partners and the staff of the Royal Exchange Theatre - ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS has been created by artists including Hollywood actors and community ambassadors. The team includes Gloria Akpoke, Liz Aniteye, Andy Barry, Hafsah Aneela Bashir, Suzanne Bell, Anna Berentzen, Alexandra Faye Braithwaite, Jude Christian, Philippa Crossman, Russell T Davies, Akiel Dowe, Tracey Dunk, Gordon Emerson, Juliana Fapohunda (I M Pact), Sophie Galpin, Annie Giles-Quinn, Conor Glean, Shobna Gulati, Cherylee Houston, Nimmo Ismail, Sonia Jalaly, Kit Jordan, Sabiha Khan, Zak Khan, Kieran Knowles, Nana Kofi Kufuor, Nathan Lea, Debbie Leach, Houmi Miura, Wunmi Mosaku, Ayanda (Yandass) Ndlovu (I M Pact), Farai Nhakaniso, Kate O’Donnell, Emily Paris (I M Pact), Maxine Peake, Ramina Radmard, Hannah Sands, Bryony Shanahan, Gurjeet Singh, Liam Steers, Sophie Stone, Ben Sullivan, Testament, TIME (Terriss Zure (I M Pact)), Chantell Walker, Don Warrington, Roy Alexander Weise, Becky Wilkie, John R Wilkinson, Carys Williams, Benedict Wong, Fred Yeomans and Maria Zemlinskaya.

Audiences will find the six short films scattered across the 24 days of an advent calendar, with an extra special performance for Christmas Day. Set in the tower blocks of Manchester City Centre, on Cheetham Hill Road (Cheetham), Gigg Lane (Bury), Glebe Street (Leigh), Henrietta Street (Ashton-Under -Lyne) and Grey Mare Lane (Beswick) are stories of the communities and people who breathe life into these unassuming Greater Manchester streets. ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS celebrates the Exchange’s city centre home and the areas of Greater Manchester that are part of the Theatre’s region-wide Local Exchange programme.

Executive Director Steve Freeman & Joint Artistic Directors Roy Alexander Weise, Bryony Shanahan said…

‘ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS brings together freelance artists and theatre workers, members of our Young and Elders Company, our Local Exchange Ambassadors and our extraordinary staff team; a small group of individuals who make up just part of the cultural community to which we belong. The streets of Greater Manchester are inhabited by us all - ordinary people living extraordinary lives. In this most challenging of years, with a challenging Christmas approaching we wanted to remind people of the resilience of human beings, the power of storytelling, and the strength of community. Escapism feels like such a radical, political act right now and this gift is an offer to all to tap into the power of the imagination; found in the cracks of our fear and the world’s uncertainty. 

Choosing just six streets was tough but it felt important to shine a light on the areas and communities we have been working closely with as part of our Local Exchange programme. The broad range of artists involved show how rich the region is with talent and imagination; the passion and enthusiasm from all involved proves how Greater Manchester has a special place in the hearts of many. 

Our team at the Royal Exchange have come together, battling through a void of deep pain and adversity to make this happen in record speed. We want to thank them for enduring this year of uncertainty with us. To ensure that the hardship of 2020 is not in vain, we must look forward with purpose to 2021, which will be a time of celebration and re-invention. We cannot wait to bring our audiences and communities on the journey into a new chapter for the Royal Exchange Theatre.’

Each year after the Christmas show we ask audiences to give what they can to the Arts Pot. This fund was created to break down barriers to engagement. It supports anyone who wants to take part in the Theatres programmes, from the Children’s Company through to our Elders Company. Applications can be made to cover fees or travel costs or any additional access needs such as BSL interpreter. This year we are opening the fund once again over the Christmas period.

Marianne, an Arts Pot recipient, said …
'I get quite emotional about the Royal Exchange because I’ve grown up and grown old with it. I felt Arts Pot was really for people who were on their knees, but it’s not. It’s just to make things a bit easier so you haven’t got to make choices, y’know.'

The ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS advent calendar can be found on the website and will be released daily, at 10.30am, on the Theatre’s social media channels.


All I Want For Christmas
Virtual Event
Christmas wreath

ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS is a celebration of Manchester – a journey through the tower blocks of the City Centre to the terraces of Glebe Street in Leigh. Discover stories filled with hope and joy from some of the most inspiring writers, directors and performers from across the region.

Royal Exchange Theatre
Royal Exchange Theatre

Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre Company transforms the way people see theatre, each other and the world around them.  Its historic building, was taken over by artists in 1976. Today it is an award-winning cultural charity that produces new theatre in-the-round, in communities, on the road and online.



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