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Rufus Norris appointed National Theatre director

Rufus Norris. Photo: Tristram Kenton
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Rufus Norris has been appointed to succeed Nicholas Hytner as director of the National Theatre.

Hytner, who has run the South Bank venue since 2003, will step down in 2015.

Although he has not run a building before, Norris is an associate at the NT and has directed a number of productions there – including Market Boy, London Road, The Table and The Amen Corner. In 2004, he won an Evening Standard Award for his production of Festen, which played at the Almeida before transferring to the West End.

He has also directed a revival of Cabaret in the West End and Damon Albarn’s opera Doctor Dee, which played at the Manchester International Festival and the London Coliseum.

Norris has long been regarded as the favourite within the National Theatre to take over from Hytner. Other directors linked to the post included Kenneth Branagh, Daniel Evans and Jonathan Church.

Norris will take over from Hytner in April 2015.

Hytner said: “I could not be more delighted that the board of the National Theatre has appointed Rufus Norris as the National’s next director. He has been a superb associate director for the last two years, actively involved in repertoire planning, and delivering a series of outstanding productions. His work as a director is always searching, deeply considered and adventurous and I have no doubt he will bring these qualities to the running of the National. His appointment will be welcomed with great excitement both within the National and in the theatre at large.”

[pullquote]The National is an extraordinary place, full of extraordinary people, and I look forward with relish to the task ahead[/pullquote]

Norris said: “This appointment is a great honour and I am thrilled at the prospect and challenge of leading this exceptional organisation, where it has been a privilege to work under the inspirational leadership of Nick Hytner. I am tremendously grateful to the board of the National Theatre for their support.

“The National is an extraordinary place, full of extraordinary people, and I look forward with relish to the task ahead – that being to fill our theatres with the most exciting, accessible and ground-breaking work our unique and broad community of artists has to offer.”

Norris was born in 1965 and spent his childhood in Africa and Malaysia. He was educated at North Bromsgrove High School and Kidderminster College of Further Education.  He trained at RADA and was an actor for several years before turning to directing. This will make him the first non-Cambridge University educated director of the National since Olivier. He has been an associate at the National since 2011.

He was an associate director at the Young Vic from 2002 to 2007, where he directed shows including Feast, Vernon God Little, Herge’s Adventures of Tintin, Sleeping Beauty.

John Makinson, Chairman of the National, said: “In setting out to find a new director for the National Theatre, the board looked for an individual with a creative reputation that would command the respect and support of British theatre, and with the generosity of spirit that has characterised Nick Hytner’s period as director. Rufus Norris has both those qualities in abundance. He is an exciting choice, someone who will build on the National Theatre’s present reputation as one of the most admired and innovative performing arts organisations in the world. We are fortunate that he has chosen to join us.”

We speak to Rufus Norris

A bio is available on the National Theatre website here

Industry reaction to the appointment

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