U.K.’s National Theatre Sets Indhu Rubasingham as First Woman Director

U.K.’s National Theatre Sets Indhu Rubasingham as First Woman Director

Indhu Rubasingham will become the first woman director and joint chief executive of the U.K.’s National Theatre.

She succeeds current director and chief executive Rufus Norris, who will leave the National Theatre in spring 2025 when his second term ends. Rubasingham will join the National Theatre as director designate from spring 2024. She will work alongside executive director Kate Varah who also becomes joint chief executive in a co-leadership model.

Rubasingham, who is of Tamil Sri Lankan heritage, has been artistic director of London’s Kiln Theatre since 2012. Collaborations during her tenure, include with Zadie Smith on “White Teeth” and “The Wife of Willesden” and with Ayad Aktar on “The Invisible Hand,” which was twice Olivier nominated. Other directing credits include “Red Velvet,” “Handbagged,” “When The Crows Visit” and “A Wolf In Snakeskin Shoes.” She also programmed the Florian Zeller trilogy – “The Father,” “The Mother” and “The Son”; and Ryan Calais Cameron’s “Retrograde.”

One of Rubasingham’s missions at the Kiln was to encourage new writing and bring voices into the mainstream. She oversaw a £9 million ($11.3 million) capital campaign, reopening the new building in 2018 as Kiln Theatre.

Her work at the National Theatre includes directing productions including “The Waiting Room,” “The Ramayana” and most recently the acclaimed production of Anupama Chandrasekhar’s “The Father and the Assassin.”  

Rubasingham said: “It’s a huge honor to be appointed director of the National Theatre – for me, this is the best job in the world. The National has played an important part in my life – from tentative steps as a teenage theatergoer, to later as a theater-maker, and to have the opportunity to play a role in its history is an incredible privilege and responsibility. Theater has a transformative power – the ability to bring people together through shared experience and storytelling, and nowhere more so than the National. I’ve been fortunate to have directed on the National Theatre’s stages and to have witnessed firsthand the commitment, collaboration, brilliance and pride of those who bring the magic to the building, both on stage and off. There’s nowhere like it, and it will be a joy to be a part of this iconic building’s next chapter, leading the company alongside Kate. I am thrilled to be following in the footsteps of Rufus, and I look forward to working closely with him from next year as I plan my first season.”

Varah added: “I am thrilled that Indhu will be the National Theatre’s next director, someone I deeply admire as an artist and as a leader. Importantly, I believe we share the same values and aspirations for this incomparable theatre. I look forward to starting a new chapter leading together, working with the best artists and colleagues to make theater that entertains and inspires audiences across the world.”

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