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Actor with links to city is new director at major London venue
THE man set to take the helm at one of the world’s most prestigious theatres learnt much of his trade tredding the boards in Worcester.
Rufus Norris will succeed Nicholas Hytner as director at London’s National Theatre from April 2015, the completion of a theatrical journey which began at the Faithful City’s Swan Youth Theatre.
After attending North Bromsgrove High School and Kidderminster College of Further Education, he went on to train at RADA and was an actor for several years before turning to directing and becoming an associate director at the National Theatre in 2011.
Simon Atkins, head of drama at King’s Worcester, worked with Mr Norris at the Swan Theatre and remembers a quiet, intelligent and “really nice guy” from his time as a member of the youth company in the early 1980s.
“Everybody is absolutely thrilled to bits, it’s tremendous news,” he said.
“It is just about the most important job in British theatre.”
Mr Atkins also fondly recalls their time starring together in the theatre’s production of Jack the Ripper, in which Mr Norris played a down-and-out Eastender.
“It is one of the most memorable things I remember him doing,” Mr Atkins said.
“He had quite a good gift for comedy timing.”
Meanwhile Chris Jaeger, chief executive of Worcester Live, said the city should be proud of the connection with one of theatre’s top dogs.
“It is probably the number one theatre job in the world,” he said.
“To have that connection with Worcester is just amazing. “We don’t often get people in high places from Worcester.”
Speaking about his new role, Mr Norris said: “This appointment is a great honour and I am thrilled at the prospect and challenge of leading this exceptional org-anisation, where it has been a privilege to work under the inspirational leadership of Nick Hytner.
“I am tremendously grateful to the board of the Nat-ional Theatre for their support.
“The National is an extraordinary place, full of extraordinary people, and I look forward with relish to the task ahead – that being to fill our theatres with the most exciting, accessible and ground-breaking work our unique and broad community of artists has to offer.”
While at the National Theatre, Mr Norris has di-rected five productions, in-cluding the Amen Corner by James Baldwin at the Olivier Theatre this year.