Indhu Rubasingham, an acclaimed theater practitioner, has broken the decades-long grip of white male power at the National Theater by being appointed its artistic director, it was revealed on Wednesday in London.

She succeeds current director and chief executive Rufus Norris, who, by the time he steps down in 2025, will have held the role for a decade, across two terms.

Long tipped for the role, Rubasingham will take on the title of director from Norris but will share chief executive duties alongside the NT's current chief executive, Kate Varah.

In a statement released through the NT, Rubasingham said his appointment was “a great honor – for me, this is the best job in the world”. She added that the opportunity to play a role in NT history “is an incredible privilege and responsibility.”

She said she witnessed firsthand “the commitment, the collaboration, the brilliance and the pride of those who bring the magic to the building.”

Born in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, to Sri Lankan Tamil parents, Rubasingham leaves her current role on Friday as artistic director of the Kiln Theater in Kilburn, London, after an 11-year stint.

On Sunday, Kiln threw a farewell party for her, organized by Downton Abbey star and Wonka actor Jim Carter.

For the sake of clarity, I sat on the panel that made your appointment to Forno.

Her rise to the top artistic role at the UK's premier theater – a dominant Brutalist structure on Southbank, with three theaters and stunning views over the River Thames and surrounding area – is a landmark moment for her, and for the UK theater industry and community. UK.

Laurence Olivier was the NT's inaugural artistic director, and all of his successors have been male and pale. They include Peter Hall, Richard Eyre, Trevor Nunn, Nicholas Hytner and Norris.

The search committee, led by NT president Sir Damon Buffini, never publicly announced that it was looking for a woman to run the theater complex, but it is understood that this was what they favored, as did Norris.

But Rubasingham won on merit.

Sir Damon noted that throughout the recruitment process, “Indhu demonstrated to the panel her clear vision for the National Theatre's next chapter, demonstrating her passion and commitment to bringing the world to the National Theater and to taking the National Theater to the world”.

When he took over Forno, then called Triciclo, he inherited a demoralized team and a tired building.

His statement of intent was to revitalize theater artistically and commercially by insisting on new work – with diversity at its heart. She also joined forces with Jonathan Levy, president at the time, to implement a $10 million capital construction program that made the building fit for purpose. None of this was easy, but having assembled a top team helped enormously.

The first season began with a new play called Red velvet by Lolita Chakrabarti, starring Adrian Lester and directed by Rubasingham. It was a success and transferred to the West End and St Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn.

Other hits include Bags, paper dolls It is The invisible hand. She worked with Zadie Smith on White tooth It is Willesden's wife.

She has worked on several productions in the NT over the years, directing The newsroom, the son of a bitch with the Hat, The Big Wave, Ugly as Bone, Kerry Jackson and Anupama Chandrasekhar The Father and the Killer.

Rubasingham becomes director-designate of the NT from the spring. She will officially assume her new titles a year later.

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