Page 3 Profile: Rufus Norris, National Theatre Director


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The Independent Online

Theatreland seemed to be in a bit of a tizz yesterday. What gives?

After months of speculation, the National Theatre has named the successor to current director Sir Nicholas Hytner.

So who landed it?

Rufus Norris is to take on the role when Sir Nicholas steps down in April 2015. He has a track record of exciting productions at the Young Vic and has been directing plays at the National since 2006.

Will I have seen any of his stuff?

At the National, the most acclaimed and successful was London Road, a musical about the Ipswich murders, which he is turning into a feature film next year. Most recently at the National’s Olivier Theatre he directed The Amen Corner.

Anything else?

Other shows he has directed outside the National include Vernon God Little, Hergé’s Adventures of Tintin and Festen. He directed Cabaret at the Lyric and Savoy Theatres as well as the opera Dr Dee with blur frontman Damon Albarn.

Can I get a bit of background?

Norris is a 48-year-old father of two, who spent his childhood in Africa and Malaysia before an education in the UK.

Don’t you have to go to Oxbridge to even be considered for the job?

Norris didn’t go to university at all. He said there were times he regretted playing in a band and working as a painter-decorator instead of going to university but “it’s worked out”.

So what’s his plan?

Well, he has another 18 months before getting his feet under the desk, so plans are in their early stages. As well as continuing to bring in “the best artists to do  their best work” he seems keen to continue to push cultural diversity and the gender balance.

What was the reaction like outside of the National?

Overwhelmingly positive. Artistic directors of the Donmar, the Royal Court, Headlong Theatre and the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse were all tweeting their praises. David Lan of the Young Vic said: “He’s very popular and well liked. He’ll get an enormous amount of support.”