Rufus Norris has been appointed as the new director of the National Theatre, the biggest job in UK theatre. He’ll take over in April 2015.
If you’re thinking, who?, you’re probably not alone. Big names like Kenneth Branagh, Stephen Daldry and Michael Grandage had all been suggested, but on this morning’s Today programme, BBC arts editor Will Gompertz was putting his money on Norris (though he also had a side bet on Phyllida Lloyd, so we’ll hold off the Mystic Meg tag for now).
But back to Norris. Perhaps his best known production was the National’s excellent London Road, which turned real-life conversations with the people who lived near Ipswich murderer Steve Wright into a musical of delicate beauty and visual spectacle. Also at the National, he directed widely praised The Amen Corner and new space The Shed’s first production Table. His collaboration with Damon Albarn on comic-book inspired opera Doctor Dee shows he’s up for experimentation, and his film Broken gathered some of Britain’s finest acting talent into an award-winning creation.
Hytner flagged up Norris’s existing work with the National Theatre:
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.
Norris himself sounds suitably humble:
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.
The NT celebrates its 50th anniversary next week, and we’ll be sharing some of its less well-known aspects with you.
Photo by Peter Denton from the Londonist Flickr pool