Well done, Mr Norris. Now tell us, what IS a national theatre?

Should it have been a woman for the first time in the National’s history?

Share

The National Theatre will be in safe hands. Rufus Norris has not run an institution, but he is a superb director of plays – Festen, Cabaret et al. Besides, the current director, Sir Nicholas Hytner, had not run an institution either when he was appointed, and everyone is agreed that he has been a resounding success.

I regret that the National’s board overlooked Sir Kenneth Branagh. Not since Laurence Olivier, the NT’s founding director, has an established, world-famous actor run the show. And Branagh would have approached the job from a refreshingly different perspective from that of the past few decades. Theatre does not have to be director-led, bizarre as that assertion might seem to directors.

Should it have been a woman for the first time in the National’s history? Well, there was interest in a few key female directors, but they ruled themselves out pretty quickly. A number of smaller but important theatres are now being run by women, so next time the National post comes up, it will be near impossible to argue against a gender change at the top.

Norris, though, is likely to cement the National’s global reputation, and in certain areas extend it. His early remarks about increasing the venue’s reach “in terms of gender balance, cultural diversity and general diversity” are encouraging.

What I would like to see him do now is tell us what exactly he considers a national theatre to be. It’s a seemingly obvious point, but it is seldom addressed. Should it be the venue that is “national” in the sense of staging and championing home-grown writing, past and present? Should it be the venue that instead presents the best plays from around the world, performed to the highest standards? Should it be national in the sense of touring more widely? How should it relate to the National Theatres of Scotland and Wales, neither of which existed the last time the National Theatre appointed an artistic director?

Congratulations, Mr Norris, on being appointed head of the National Theatre. So what, in your view, is it?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Travel Consultant

£20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in London, Manches...

Recruitment Genius: Stock Broker / Trainee Broker / Closer - OTE £250,000

£30000 - £250000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Stock Broker/ Trainee FX, Stoc...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer (PHP / MYSQL)

£30 - 40k + Benefits & Bonus: Guru Careers: A Software / Web Developer (PHP / ...

Recruitment Genius: ICT Operations Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is the single governing and regul...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A cervical brush used for to perform vaginal smear test analysis  

If I had let the stigma around cervical cancer stop me seeing a doctor then I could be dead by now

Karen Hobbs
 

I'm pansexual – here are the five biggest misconceptions about my sexuality

Farhana Khan
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935