John Makinson, Chairman of the National Theatre, 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.
“I should like to thank all my Board colleagues, and in particular my fellow members of the Succession Committee, for the energy and insight that they have brought to this selection process.”
Nicholas Hytner added: “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.”
Rufus 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.”
Rufus 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 & Gbolahan Obisesan (2013), Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre, adapted by Tanya Ronder (2009 & 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).
Other work has included: Cabaret (Lyric Theatre 2006, Savoy Theatre 2012, also on tour 2013); Clifford Odets’ The Country Girl (Apollo Theatre and tour 2010); Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Broadway, 2008: five Tony nominations); Festen, adapted by David Eldridge (Almeida 2004 and subsequently in the West End, on tour and on Broadway: Evening Standard and Critics’ Circle Awards for Best Director), and Blood Wedding (Almeida 2004).
His earlier work included Dirty Butterfly and Two Women by debbie tucker green (Soho Theatre, 2003 & 2000 respectively), Small Change by Peter Gill (Sheffield Crucible, 2002), Tall Stories (Battersea Arts Centre and Vienna Festival, 2002), Shakespeare’s The Tempest and The Lizzie Play by Deirdre Strath (Arts Threshold, 2002), Sea Tongue (Huddersfield Contemporary Festival, 2001), Under the Blue Sky by David Eldridge (Royal Court, 2000), My Dad's Cornershop by Ray Grewal (Birmingham Rep, 2000), Mish Alla Ruman (Al Kasaba Theatre, Palestine) About the Boy by Ed Himeand Clubbed Out by Ezra Elia (Royal Court, 1998). He was director of Arts Threshold from 1993 – 95, and of Wink Productions from 1995 – 2000.
Opera includes Dr Dee, which he co-created with Damon Albarn (Manchester International Festival, 2011 and ENO, 2012), and Don Giovanni (ENO, 2010).
Rufus Norris’ debut feature film Broken premiered at Cannes in 2012 and won Best Film at the British Independent Film Awards earlier this year.