Following in the lofty footsteps of Laurence Olivier, Peter Hall, Richard Eyre, Trevor Nunn and the incumbent, Nicholas Hytner, the top job in British – heck, world – theatre has gone to Rufus Norris, who will be the sixth artistic director of everyone’s favourite brutalist monolith, the National Theatre.
Norris, 47, is already an associate director at the National, where his hits include Time Out’s 2011 show of the year, the verbatim musical ‘London Road’, which will be made into a Norris-directed film next year; other recent NT smashes include ‘The Amen Corner’ and ‘Table’, the first production in the National’s pop up Shed venue, which opened this yearCompared to other candidates who’d been linked with the post – Stephen Daldry, David Lan, Kenneth Branagh – Norris is something of an inside man. But he’s a break with National Theatre tradition in some ways – his style is lavishly visual, with much more experimental, international tastes than his predecessors, plus he’s the first NT boss since Olivier not to have attended Oxbridge… one can perhaps see his appointment as symptomatic of the slight air of hipness that has crept into the once stuffy institution during Hytner’s reign.
In any case, it’s a way to go until Norris actually has to do anything – he doesn’t take over until April 2015. In the meantime, there’s a big party to get out of the way first: the National Theatre will be celebrating its 50th birthday on November 2 in a star-studded megamix of its greatest hits, to be broadcast live (or live-ish) on BBC2. Andrzej Lukowski
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