Rufus Norris named chief of UK's National Theatre


| Zoom

LONDON (AP) - Britain's National Theatre named stage director and former actor Rufus Norris as its next chief on Tuesday _ the first actor since Laurence Olivier to lead Britain's biggest and most influential theater company.

Norris will take over in April 2015 from Nicholas Hytner, who has led the state-subsidized company through a decade of commercial and critical successes, including Broadway runs for shows such as "One Man, Two Guvnors" and "War Horse."

Last year the National's shows played to 3.6 million people around the world _ at its London home, on tour and in live cinema broadcasts _ and it took in 87 million pounds ($139 million).

Norris acknowledged having some nerves about the scale of the job, but said he would approach it "with gusto" and continue efforts begun under Hytner to attract younger and more diverse audiences and artistic collaborators.

Norris, 48, trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and worked as an actor _ "I wasn't quite as good as Olivier" _ before making his name as a bold and versatile director of plays, musicals and opera.

He spent five years as associate director of the innovative Young Vic in London, and has directed several shows at the National, including James Baldwin's "The Amen Corner" and David Eldridge's "Market Boy."

His work on Broadway includes a 2008 production of "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" that received five Tony Award nominations.

Norris created the opera "Dr Dee" with Blur frontman Damon Albarn, and made his filmmaking debut in 2012 with "Broken."

Norris is currently working on a movie adaptation of "London Road," a musical he directed at the National about a neighborhood traumatized by a serial killer. But he acknowledged that his film career will have to take a back seat to running the theater.

"I'd like to think you can do this job and direct a movie a year alongside it _ but clearly that's not the case," he said. "It's an enormous job."

High-profile directors including Sam Mendes and Kenneth Branagh were rumored to be in the running for British theater's biggest job. Hytner said the most important quality needed _ even more than experience _ was "appetite."

"Rufus has the appetite, as well as the talent," he said.

___

Online: www.nationaltheatre.org.uk

Jill Lawless can be reached at http://Twitter.com/JillLawless


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Top Stories

  • Remodeling Safeco
    Groundskeeping crews at Safeco Field are taking a backseat to Beyonce and Jay Z

  • Waiting for Marshawn
    Why Danny O'Neil doesn't expect to see Marshawn Lynch before September

  • Time for Takeoff
    Get to know the Blue Angels as they arrive for Seafair today
ATTENTION COMMENTERS: We've changed our comments, but want to keep you in the conversation.
Please login below with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing MyNorthwest account holders will need to create a new Disqus account or use one of the social logins provided below. Thank you.
comments powered by Disqus
Sign up for breaking news e-mail alerts from MyNorthwest.com
In the community
Do you know an exceptional citizen who has impacted and inspired others?
KIRO Radio and WSECU would like to recognize six oustanding citizens this year. Nominate them to be recognized and to receive a $2,000 charitable grant.