Celebrating Britain's 101 Most Influential Asians 2024

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Indhu Rubasingham


IN THE arts world, Indhu Rubasingham well and truly smashed the glass ceiling when she was appointed director of the National Theatre in December 2023. The first woman in the post, she will take over from Rufus Norris in spring 2025 when he will have been in the job for 10 years and his second term will end. She will also be joint chief executive of the National alongside Kate Varah who said Rubasingham was “someone I deeply admire as an artist and as a leader”. Rubasingham was born in Sheffield in 1970 to Tamil parents who came to the UK from Sri Lanka. She graduated from Hull University with a BA Hons in drama. In 2017, Rubasingham was awarded an MBE for services to theatre in the new year’s honours list and an honorary doctorate from 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 an AWA (Advancing Women Artists foundation) for the arts in 2012. The Times said of her appointment: “Indhu Rubasingham is set to smash the biggest glass ceiling in British theatre after being named as the first female director of the National Theatre.” It added that her name “has been on so many lips in the past few months that the announcement that she is taking over at the helm of the National almost comes as an anti-climax. But this is still a landmark event, recognition of the changing face of British theatre.” The Guardian commented: “Rubasingham takes over an institution that, in the words of (theatre critic) Michael Billington, cannot go back to being ‘an exclusively white enclave’.” Rubasingham, who is also the first non-white director of the National, has reacted

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