July 21st, 2024

Indhu Rubasingham named as first woman to lead Britain’s National Theatre

By The Associated Press on December 13, 2023.

LONDON (AP) – Britain’s National Theatre announced Wednesday that Indhu Rubasingham will be the next artistic director of the United Kingdom’s pre-eminent public stage company.

Rubasingham, who currently runs the small but influential Kiln Theatre in north London, will be the first woman and first person of color to lead the National, whose six previous artistic directors include Laurence Olivier, Peter Hall and Nicholas Hytner.

She will join as director-designate in the spring of 2024 and take over in early 2025 from Rufus Norris, who is stepping down after a decade at the helm.

Rubasingham will also become the company’s joint chief executive alongside Kate Varah, who is currently executive director of the theater.

Rubasingham said it was “a huge honor” to lead a venue that “has played an important part in my life.”

“Theater has a transformative power – the ability to bring people together through shared experience and storytelling, and nowhere more so than the National,” she said.

At the Kiln, Rubasingham has been praised for innovative shows that reflect the diverse communities of the surrounding area. Her directing work there includes a stage adaptation of Zadie Smith’s novel “White Teeth,” Smith’s Chaucer-inspired play “The Wife of Willesden” and “Red Velvet,” a drama about 19th-century Black actor Ira Aldridge that later ran London’s West End and in New York.

She has directed several shows at the National, including the critically acclaimed Indian play “The Father and the Assassin,” about the man who killed Mahatma Gandhi.

The National Theatre produces work on three stages at its home on London’s South Bank and broadcasts performances across the U.K. and around the world through the NT Live and National Theatre at Home programs.

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