Indhu Rubasingham takes the helm at the National Theatre in the UK

Dec 15 2023.

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British Sri Lankan Indhu Rubasingham has scaled new heights in British theatre with her appointment as the next Director and Joint Chief Executive of the National Theatre. The National Theatre announces today the appointment of  Indhu who will work alongside Executive Director Kate Varah who also becomes Joint Chief Executive in a co-leadership model. Indhu will succeed current Director and Chief Executive Rufus Norris, who will leave the National Theatre in Spring 2025 when his second term ends. Born in Sheffield to Sri Lankan Tamil parents, she graduated from Hull University with a BA Hons in Drama. She is a theatre director based in London and is currently the Artistic Director of Kiln Theatre which she joined in 2012 and repositioned the company’s mission to bring unheard voices into the mainstream. The mainstay of her programming consists of both world and British premieres. Indhu became the first woman of colour to hold such a high position in the UK theatre industry. Unassuming, approachable and humble Indhu is a role model for those aspiring to enter the world of theatre as she epitomises an exemplary work ethic. 

During her tenure, she oversaw a £9 million major capital refurbishment, future-proofing the theatre for the next generation of theatre-makers, reopening in 2018 as Kiln Theatre. Rubasingham also spearheaded a major expansion of creative engagement work, putting the company’s commitment to the local community and emerging artists at the very core of the theatre’s output. In recognition of this work and their post-covid reopening season, Kiln Theatre won The Stage 2021 Award for London Theatre of the Year. Her inaugural production as Artistic Director of Kiln Theatre was the multi-award-winning Red Velvet by Lolita Chakrabarti, which later transferred to St Ann’s Warehouse in New York, and to the Garrick Theatre as part of Kenneth Branagh’s season. Her production of Handbagged by Moira Buffini won an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre, before transferring to the West End and Washington DC and embarking on a subsequent UK tour in 2015. Her production of The Invisible Hand was nominated for an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre in both 2017 and 2021.

lndhu directed best-selling author Zadie Smith’s debut play The Wife of Willesden at Kiln Theatre in 2021 to critical acclaim—it became the highest-ever grossing show in the theatre’s history and returned to the Kiln in 2022 before transferring to Boston’s ART and New York’s BAM in 2023. Other highlights include producing Florian Zeller's triptych of plays The Father, The Mother and The Son, with both The Father and The Son receiving West End transfers; Blues In The Night and more recently Retrograde and the musical Two Strangers. She has recently announced her final season for the company, including two world premieres, and a collaboration with the RSC. In 2017, Rubasingham was awarded an MBE for services to theatre in the New Year’s Honours List and an honorary doctorate from the University of Hull.

She has previously held Associate Director positions at the Gate Theatre, Birmingham Rep and the Young Vic. In 2001, she was awarded the Carlton Multi-Cultural Achievement Award for Performing Arts; and AWA for the Arts in 2012. Indhu has worked regularly at the National Theatre in all three South Bank auditoriums, directing productions including The Waiting Room, The Ramayana, The Motherf*cker With the Hat, The Great Wave, Ugly Lies the Bone, Kerry Jackson and most recently the critically acclaimed sell-out production of Anupama Chandrasekhar’s The Father and the Assassin which returned to the Olivier theatre earlier this year.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tina Edward Gunawardhana

Tina Edward Gunawardhana is a journalist specialising in travel, fashion, lifestyle, cuisine and personalities. She is also the Deputy Editor for Hi!! Magazine. An intrepid traveller, she likes to show readers the world through her eyes and experiences. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - tinajourno [email protected]

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