Plaudits and praise were pouring in this morning as Nicholas Hytner announced his departure as Director of the National Theatre.
In setting 2015 as the date of departure Hytner said: “It’s been a joy and a privilege to lead the National Theatre for ten years and I’m looking forward to the next two. I have the most exciting and most fulfilling job in the English-speaking theatre; and after twelve years it will be time to give someone else a turn to enjoy the company of my stupendous colleagues, who together make the National what it is.”
Hytner began directing when he was at Cambridge University, studying English. His early successes as a director came at English National Opera, before directing at the Northcott, Leeds Playhouse, and becoming Associate Director at Royal Exchange Manchester. In 1990 he was appointed Associate Director of the National Theatre, a position he retained for 7 years. He took over as Director of the National Theatre from Trevor Nunn in 2003.
Nick Starr, who has been Executive Director since 2002, also announced today that he will be leaving the NT during 2014. He spoke of handing over the “genius” of the building to the next generation.
John Makinson, Chairman of the National Theatre, said: “Nick Hytner and Nick Starr have led the National Theatre to undreamt levels of creative and commercial success over the past decade.” Under Hytner’s tenure the National has undergone tremendous change. In this, the 50th Anniversary year, it is undergoing an immense project of re-development, entitled NT Future.
As news of Hytner’s announcement filtered down, cultural figures took to Twitter to praise Hytner. “It’ll take a brave & brilliant person to suceed him” opined Channel 4 Culture Editor Matthew Cain. Dominic Cavendish of the Telegraph tweeted “end of an era feeling about today” while playwright James Graham, whose play This House premièred at the Cottesloe Theatre in 2012, wrote simply “Nick Hytner is a dude, and I owe him a lot.”