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Tuesday, 25 September, 2001, 12:50 GMT 13:50 UK
Hytner takes National's top job
Nicholas Hytner
Nicholas Hytner: Has promised more new talent
Film and theatre director Nicholas Hytner is to be the next director of London's prestigious Royal National Theatre.

Hytner, 45, will take over from Trevor Nunn for a five-year term from April 2003. Nunn - who announced in April that he was stepping down from one of British theatre's top jobs - will retain artistic control until then.

Hytner won the top position at the National Theatre on London's South Bank after months of speculation.

During that time other frontrunners for the 120,000 per year role were thought to be Jude Kelly, artistic director of the West Yorkshire Playhouse and other film and theatre directors such as Stephen Daldry and Sam Mendes.
Trevor Nunn
Nunn announced he was leaving in April

However Hytner - who has directed National hits including Carousel and The Madness of King George and won Baftas for his film work - was widely regarded as the favourite to take over Nunn's stewardship.

Hytner said on hearing of his appointment: "I'm thrilled by the challenge of leading the National and of working with a company of outstandingly creative people whom I've loved and admired for many years."

He said he did not yet know what he would be staging but was not adverse to popular musicals which could be transferred to the West End.

He is also keen to encourage European directors to the theatre.

"I would like to look far and wide for new stories, new talent, new generations, new communities," he said.

Tackling accusations of the National appealing only to middle-aged, middle-class theatregoers is also on the agenda.

Hynter said: "I have nothing against older folks coming and having a good time but the way we will reflect younger audiences is by reflecting their concerns on our stages."


Previous directors were stalwarts of classical theatre, including Laurence Olivier, Peter Hall and Richard Eyre.

The decision over Nunn's successor was made by the 13 members of the Royal National Theatre board, headed by Reuters chairman Sir Christopher Hogg.

Richard Eyre
Richard Eyre was a Nunn predecessor

Sir Christopher said of the board's choice of director: "Nick Hytner will be a worthy successor in the line of superb directors that the National Theatre has had since its beginnings.

"He brings to the job skills and a track record which have the respect of the theatre community here and overseas. He has already made outstanding contributions to the National.

"He understands and loves the big stages. He will involve all who can help in making theatre in our time vital and relevant."

Hytner is currently directing the National Theatre production Mother Clapp's Molly House added that he would endeavour to find the "widest possible audience" for the venue.

His other successes include a movie version of The Crucible which was nominated for two Oscars.

He has directed three productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company, musical Miss Saigon and acclaimed West End plays The Lady In the Van and Orpheus Descending.


Hytner's approach to theatre will not be seen as a million miles away from that of his predecessor.

Nunn was best known for blockbuster productions including Cats and Les Miserables, was considered a surprise choice for the job at the National Theatre.

My Fair Lady
Martine McCutcheon stole the show in hit My Fair Lady

The venue on London's South Bank was known for its high artistic ideals and championing of the avant garde.

Nunn became the centre of controversy for his decision to stage so-called extravagant, commercial productions at the theatre.

In particular, he came under fire for his revival of My Fair Lady, starring former TV soap star Martine McCuthcheon.

Commenting on his successor, Nunn said: "Nick Hytner is one of the small group of theatre directors universally acknowledged to be amongst the best in the world.

"He has succeeded with each new challenge he has set himself, moving from the classic stage to directing new writing, to the opera house, to the commercial music theatre and then to films."

Nicholas Hytner
"The National Theatre should be discovering what 'national' means"
See also:

25 Sep 01 | Arts
Hytner sets out National plan
18 Apr 01 | Arts
National's Nunn to leave
25 Sep 01 | Arts
Hytner appointment welcomed
02 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Eyre calls for cheaper theatre
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