Rufus Norris will step down as Director of The National Theatre in mid-2025 when his term comes to an end, marking 10 years in one of the most prestigious jobs in theatre.
Since joining in 2015, Norris has shaped a programme of distinctive, thought-provoking work, with a key focus on widening the representation on the National Theatre’s stages. The South Bank theatres have been on average 88% full – as high as any point in its history, despite the disruption of Covid.
Numerous successes include frequent transfers to the West End and Broadway, from its latest transfers The Ocean At The End Of The Lane and The Motive and the Cue to the Noel Coward Theatre and Standing at the Sky’s Edge to the Gillian Lynne Theatre, to previous transfers including People, Places & Things, Nine Night, Angels in America, and The Lehman Trilogy.
Digital innovation under his leadership has seen the National reach new audiences in over 180 countries, and their flagship National Theatre at Home platform has ensured their work is shared with the widest audience reach and impact. National Theatre Live, now in its 14th year, has reached over 11.8 million people in cinemas worldwide and broken the event cinema box office record for the UK and Ireland twice.
The National Theatre joins a growing list of arts venue that have seen or will see change of leadership including: the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford, Donmar Warehouse, Chichester Festival Theatre, Royal Court Theatre, Theatr Clwyd and International Theater Amsterdam.
The National Theatre also announced today 12 new shows for its 2023/2024 season, featuring stars such as Michael Sheen, David Oyelowo, Harriet Walter and Lindsay Duncan; and big-name directors including Rebecca Frecknall, Ian Rickson, Rufus Norris, Clint Dyer and Lyndsey Turner.
What they said:
Speaking about today’s announcements, Rufus Norris said: “It has been and remains the greatest privilege of my career to lead the National Theatre. For the past eight years I have had the honour of shaping the programme of extraordinary work that sparks imagination, brings people together and illustrates the vital role theatre can play in all our lives. The daily highlight has been to work with the peerless theatre-makers who work here, together with the incredible range of freelance artists upon whom the present and the future of the art form relies. I am enormously proud to be part of the diverse, thriving, creative hub the National Theatre is today and am fully committed to steering the course over the next two years. From the work on our stages, to the audiences all around the UK and beyond that engage with us on tour, in cinemas, in schools and at home, the NT entertains and inspires people through our creativity, expertise and unique reach. The magic of the National Theatre is that there is nowhere else like it; to have been a small part in its illustrious history, particularly through the challenges of the last few years, is a true honour.”
Chair of the National Theatre, Sir Damon Buffini said: “Rufus Norris has led the National Theatre with extraordinary skill, foresight and resilience during a decade of huge change in the UK and globally. The National’s artistic programme, as shaped by Rufus, has been exceptional in quality, prescience and popular appeal, reaching bigger audiences than at any time in the theatre’s history. Alongside that, Rufus’ passionate belief in opening up hands-on opportunities to young people and communities has boosted creativity right across the country and beyond. Rufus has always been ahead of the game, leading with both heart and head. Rufus’ legacy is already immense; I am excited about what will be achieved in the final two years of his tenure as the National Theatre continues to stage unforgettable productions and make great strides in addressing key priorities – from creative education and skills to environmental sustainability. The NT Board and I offer Rufus our most sincere admiration and thanks.”