“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 theater, and with the generosity of spirit that has characterized Nick Hytner’s period as director," John Makinson, chairman of the National Theatre, said in a press release. "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 organizations in the world. We are fortunate that he has chosen to join us."
“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 theaters with the most exciting, accessible and ground-breaking work our unique and broad community of artists has to offer,” Norris said in the release.
He received a hearty endorsement from his predecessor. “I could not be more delighted that the Board of the National Theatre has appointed Rufus Norris as the National's next director," Hytner said in the statement. "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 theater at large.”
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. He has been an associate director at the National Theatre since 2011.
For the National, he has directed The Amen Corner by James Baldwin (Olivier Theatre, 2013), Table by Tanya Ronder (The Shed, 2013), London Road by Alecky Blythe and Adam Cork (Cottesloe Theatre, 2011, Olivier Theatre, 2012), Death and the King's Horseman by Wole Soyinka (Olivier Theatre, 2009), and Market Boy by David Eldridge (Olivier Theatre, 2006).
He was an associate director at the Young Vic from 2002–2007, where he has directed Feast by Yunior García Aguilera, Rotimi Babatunde, Marcos Barbosa, Tanya Barfield, and Gbolahan Obisesan (2013); Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre, adapted by Tanya Ronder (2009 and 2011); Herge’s Adventures of Tintin, which he adapted with David Greig (Barbican 2005, UK tour and West End 2007); his own adaptation of Sleeping Beauty (Young Vic 2002, Barbican 2004, UK and international tour); Peribanez by Lope da Vega, in a version by Tanya Ronder (2003); and Afore Night Come by David Rudkin (2001: Evening Standard Best Newcomer Award).
His 2008 production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses on Broadway received five Tony nominations, and he received an Evening Standard and Critics’ Circle Awards for Best Director with Festen, adapted by David Eldridge at the Almeida in 2004, which subsequently moved to the West End and played on Broadway. He has also directed Cabaret (Lyric Theatre 2006, Savoy Theatre 2012, also on tour 2013); Clifford Odets’ The Country Girl (Apollo Theatre and tour 2010); and Blood Wedding (Almeida 2004).
His opera credits include Dr. Dee, which he co-created with Damon Albarn (Manchester International Festival, 2011, and English National Opera, 2012) and Don Giovanni (ENO, 2010). His debut feature film, Broken, premiered at Cannes in 2012 and won Best Film at the British Independent Film Awards earlier this year.
Hytner will conclude his 12-year run as NT director in March. He is largely credited with expanding the theater's audience to include youths and people of a variety of economic and ethnic backgrounds. He also nurtured the NT Live program, which broadcasts some of the theater's most popular stage productions, to cinemas around the world.
October 16, 2013