Manchester

Braham Murray: Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre founder dies

Royal Exchange interior and Braham Murray Image copyright Mia Rose/Geograph/David Dixon
Image caption Braham Murray was made an OBE in 2010

The co-founder of the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, and its longest-serving artistic director, has died.

Braham Murray directed 65 productions at the iconic venue from 1976 when he helped establish it, to 2012 when he finally stepped down.

Sarah Frankcom, the theatre's current artistic director, said the theatre and people of Manchester owed him a "huge debt of gratitude".

Mr Murray received an OBE in 2010 for services to drama. He was 75 years old.

Ms Frankcom said he was a director of "inestimable talent and ideas, and the Royal Exchange Theatre is built on the foundations of his tenacity, creativity and vision."

She added: "We simply wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for him and the other founding artistic directors and Manchester's cultural and social landscape would've been the poorer for it."

Image copyright N Chadwick / Geograph UK
Image caption The Royal Exchange Theatre is in the former Cotton Exchange building on St Ann's Square

Mr Murray made his name writing and directing the successful revue Hang Down Your Head first in Oxford and then in the West End and Broadway.

In-the-round

His association with Manchester began in 1968, when he became a key figure in the creation of the influential 69 Theatre Company.

Along with four other artistic directors from this company, he formed the Royal Exchange Theatre company which took up residence in the former Cotton Exchange building on Cross Street.

It became the largest in-the-round theatre space in the UK and opened in 1976 with Sheridan's The Rivals, directed by Braham Murray.

For more than four decades, his work at the Exchange ranged from classics to musicals and full-scale operas.

Mr Murray worked with some of the country's leading actors such as Sir Tom Courtenay, Dame Judi Dench, Sir John Mills, Vanessa Redgrave, Maureen Lipman, Amanda Donohoe, Robert Lindsay, David Threlfall and Brenda Blethyn.

He stepped down in 2012 after 36 years with the company.

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