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Indhu Rubasingham appointed as Director of the National Theatre


We’re thrilled to announce the appointment of Indhu Rubasingham as the next Director and Joint Chief Executive of the National Theatre. Indhu 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.

‘For me, this is the best job in the world’

Speaking about her appointment, Indhu said:

‘It’s a huge honour to be appointed Director of the National Theatre – for me, this is the best job in the world. 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. Theatre has a transformative power – the ability to bring people together through shared experience and storytelling, and nowhere more so than the National.

I’ve been fortunate to have directed on the National Theatre’s stages, and witnessed firsthand the commitment, collaboration, brilliance and pride of those who bring the magic to the building, both on stage and off. There’s nowhere like it, and it will be a joy to be a part of this iconic building’s next chapter, leading the company alongside Kate. I am thrilled to be following in the footsteps of Rufus, and I look forward to working closely with him from next year as I plan my first season.’

Indhu Rubasingham sits in front of a concrete wall within the National Theatre, smiling at the Camera.
Indhu Rubasingham, Director Designate, National Theatre. Photo by Antonio Olmos.

Executive Director Kate Varah said,

‘I am thrilled that Indhu will be the National Theatre’s next Director, someone I deeply admire as an artist and as a leader. Importantly, I believe we share the same values and aspirations for this incomparable theatre. I look forward to starting a new chapter leading together, working with the best artists and colleagues to make theatre that entertains and inspires audiences across the world.’

Sir Damon Buffini, Chair of the National Theatre Board said:

‘The Board are thrilled to appoint Indhu as the next Director and Joint Chief Executive. Having run Kiln Theatre for over a decade Indhu has a proven record of strong leadership and artistic success, alongside a commitment to bringing theatre to diverse audiences and broadening access to creative education. Throughout the recruitment process Indhu demonstrated to the panel her clear vision for the National Theatre’s next chapter, displaying her passion and commitment to bring the world to the National Theatre and to take the National Theatre to the world.

On behalf of my panel Co-Chair, fellow Trustee Simon Warshaw, I’d like to offer my thanks to the Board and the succession panel for their dedication and support during this recruitment process. We were extremely lucky to meet with an exceptionally impressive field of candidates who were all strong contenders for the role. Throughout the thorough process it was clear to us all that Indhu possesses the skills and vision, alongside those of our brilliant Executive Director and Joint CEO Kate, to confidently lead the National Theatre into our next chapter.’

Damon Buffini, Indhu Rubasingham and Kate Varrah stand side by side infront of a concreate wall within the National Theatre, smiling at the Camera.
Sir Damon Buffini, Chair, Indhu Rubasingham, Director Designate, and Kate Varah, Executive Director, National Theatre. Photo by Antonio Olmos.

History & Career

Indhu Rubasingham is a theatre director based in London, and is currently the Artistic Director of Kiln Theatre. Born in Sheffield of Sri-Lankan Tamil parents, she graduated from Hull University with a BA Hons in Drama.

The Father and The Assassin (2023, Olivier Theatre). Photo by Marc Brenner.

Appointed Artistic Director of Kiln Theatre in 2012, she repositioned the company’s mission to bring unheard voices into the mainstream. The mainstay of her programming consists of both world and British premieres. 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.

Kerry Jackson (2022, Dorfman Theatre). Photo by Marc Brenner.

Her inaugural production as Artistic Director of Kiln Theatre was the multi-award-winning Red Velvet by Lolita Chakrabarti (Evening Standard Award and Critics’ Circle Award), 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.

The Great Wave (2018, Dorfman Theatre). Photo by Mark Douet.

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 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.

Ugly Lies the Bone (2017, Lyttelton Theatre). Photo by Mark Douet.

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.

The Wife of Willesden (2023, Kiln Theatre – now streaming on National Theatre at Home). Photo by Marc Brenner.

She 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.

Recruitment Process

The recruitment process began earlier this year. The National worked with external recruitment consultants Saxton Bampfylde as well as appointing a succession panel which included members of the National Theatre Board and independent, leading creative professionals.

Sir Damon Buffini and NT Board member Simon Warshaw co-chaired the succession panel which included: Sheila Atim, Dominic Cooke, Vikki Heywood, Vicki Mortimer and Farrah Storr. Neil Darlison (Arts Council England) observed the process.

Indhu will join the National Theatre as Director Designate from Spring 2024.

Read the full press release