National Theatre gets its first female artistic director

December 20, 2023

The National Theatre has appointed Indhu Rubasingham as the company’s first ever woman as its artistic director, which was revealed publicly last week.

Rubasingham becomes its first woman to take the position in an organisation which is six decades old, in what is being described as a landmark decision. It’s seen as a win for both women and gender equality, as well as a progressive step forward for people of colour, in this instance with Sheffield-born Rubasingham who has Sri-Lankan heritage.

She will leave her role at north-west London’s Kiln Theatre, a location she has maintained for over 10 years, and move to her new position at the National, replacing Rufus Norris in 2025, who has opted to step down.

The year after next will see her become the seventh director for the renowned theatre company established by Sir Lawrence Olivier back in 1963. 

In recent times, it has been noted that the historical list of its directors had exclusively been well-to-do white men (according to The Guardian’s chief theatre critic Arifa Akbar), who have been at the top of the ladder running things. So Rubasingham’s promotion is a positive and welcomed move for the performing arts world where diversity is concerned.

"It's a huge honour to be appointed Director of the National Theatre - for me, this is the best job in the world," she told the BBC.

"The National has played an important part in my life - from tentative steps as a teenage theatregoer, to later as a theatre-maker, and to have the opportunity to play a role in its history is an incredible privilege and responsibility.”

Her record speaks for itself too, having directed the Olivier Award-winning Red Velvet, Handbagged, and, during her time at the Kiln, The Wife of Willesden, as well as Kerry Jackson and The Father and the Assassin at the National itself.

Norris praised his successor, saying: "Indhu is an exceptional artist who I respect and admire hugely, and I am so pleased that she will become the next director when I step down in 2025.”

The takeaway here is that, despite the theatre being a progressive and diverse place, there’s always room for growth and improvement. Indhu Rubasingham is proof of this continued growth and will see the National in capable hands for the foreseeable future.

back to homepage

Get in touch

Fields marked with an asterisk (*) are required.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
+44 (0) 20 3603 7930 | | Alban Row 27-31 Verulam Road, St Albans, AL3 4DG
Part of the CPL One Group. CPL One Ltd is a company registered in England and Wales with Company Number 3194247. VAT number GB 849 7320 92.
Please read our privacy policy and terms and conditions