Rufus Norris to Lead U.K.'s National Theater

The actor-turned-director will take up the position, regarded as the biggest job in British theater, from Nicholas Hytner in 2015.

LONDON – Actor turned theater director Rufus Norris has been appointed director of the National Theater, taking over from Nicholas Hytner when he steps down in March 2015.

The role is widely regarded as the biggest job in British theater, and Norris called it "a great honor."

"I am thrilled at the challenge of leading this exceptional organization, where it has been a privilege to work under the inspirational leadership of Nick Hytner," he said.

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Hytner announced in April 2012 that he he would step down in 2015.

Norris first attracted attention 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.

Having initially trained at Rada as an actor, the 48-year-old has since directed theater in London's West End and on Broadway. He also has experience with opera and film.

In 2012, his debut film Broken unspooled during the Cannes Film Festival and later that year scooped up best film at the British Independent Film Awards.

His recent resume boasts directing The Amen Corner at the National, and he also created Dr Dee: An English Opera with Blur frontman Damon Albarn for the Manchester International Festival in 2011.

"The National is an extraordinary place full of extraordinary people, and I look forward with relish to the task ahead," Norris told the BBC news website. "That being to fill our theaters with the most exciting, accessible and groundbreaking work our unique and broad community of artists has to offer."

Hytner will have spent 12 years as the National Theater's director when he hands the reins to Norris in 2015.

He has overseen worldwide hits such as The History Boys, War Horse and One Man, Two Guvnors, as well as NT Live, which screens theatre productions in cinemas.

He said his successor would be "welcomed with great excitement both within the National and in the theater at large."

He added: "His [Norris'] work as a director is always searching, deeply considered and adventurous, and I have no doubt he will bring these qualities to the running of the National."

Hytner said Norris received a standing ovation from the National Theater company when he introduced him as his successor, accompanied by a huge roar.