Entertainment & Arts

Rufus Norris: Who is the new National Theatre director?

Rufus Norris
Image caption Rufus Norris originally trained at Rada to be an actor

With a wealth of directorial credits that include productions in all of the National Theatre's performance spaces, Rufus Norris would seem an ideal candidate to become the prestigious London venue's new director.

Having also directed opera, film, in the West End and on Broadway, he has also displayed a range and versatility that further recommends him for his newly acquired post.

He initially trained at Rada as an actor and can therefore lay claim to experience on both sides of the footlights.

With his playwright wife Tanya Ronder, he also forms half of a formidable "power couple" whose collaborations include Table, the first play to be staged in the National's temporary Shed venue.

Norris, 48, first came to prominence in 2001 with his production of Afore Night Come at the Young Vic, for which he won the Evening Standard award for most promising newcomer.

He was hardly a newcomer though, having already directed at Birmingham Rep, Clwyd Theatr Cymru in Wales and the Royal Court in London.

In 2004 he won his second Evening Standard award for his production of Festen, a dark family drama based on the acclaimed Danish film of 1998.

First seen at the Almeida in north London, the adaptation went on to enjoy a West End run but flopped on Broadway in 2006.

Norris had better luck in New York in 2008 with Les Liaisons Dangereuses, a revival of Christopher Hampton's play starring Laura Linney that was nominated for five Tony awards.

Image caption Broken, Norris's first feature film, saw Tim Roth play the father of a precocious teenager

His other successes include Doctor Dee, an "English opera" created for the 2011 Manchester International Festival in collaboration with former Blur frontman Damon Albarn.

He was also praised for his 2006 production of the musical Cabaret, revived last year with Will Young and Michelle Ryan, and the Young Vic's 2007 adaptation of DBC Pierre's novel Vernon God Little.

Norris made his debut at the National in 2006 with Market Boy, a play about market traders in Essex that continued his association with Festen playwright David Eldridge.

He returned to the South Bank in 2009 to direct Death and the King's Horseman, a revival of Wole Soyinka's play about ritual suicide in colonial Nigeria.

In 2011 he achieved further success at the National with London Road, a musical play inspired about the murders committed by Ipswich serial killer Steve Wright.

London Road film plans

This year, meanwhile, saw him direct the National's productions of James Baldwin's The Amen Corner and Table, about the experiences of a family over 200 years.

Norris made his first foray into film in 2009 with King Bastard, a short film written by Ronder about a young girl's grief for her grandfather, played by Peter Mullan.

He followed that with Broken, a drama about life on a suburban English close that had its premiere at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.

The film, which starred Tim Roth, Cillian Murphy and newcomer Eloise Laurence, went on to win two British Independent Film Awards.

Norris's future plans include a big-screen version of London Road, currently in development with BBC Films.

The father of two will also direct the 2014 premiere of Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Sir David Hare's next play for the National.

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