National Theatre director becomes Swan Youth Theatre patron

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First published in News

THE man in one the top theatre job in the world has backed his former youth group by becoming its new patron.

Rufus Norris takes the helm of London’s National Theatre as director next month and his theatrical journey began at Worcester's Swan Youth Theatre in the 1980s, who he has now agreed to support and champion.

Mr Norris is a multi-award winning director who has been an associate director of the National since 2011 and he succeeds Sir Nicholas Hytner, who has spent 12 years in the role.

His appointment was met with a standing ovation from the National Theatre company.

Mr Norris trained at RADA as an actor, making him the first former actor – and non-Oxbridge graduate – to be appointed to the role since Sir Laurence Olivier, who was the National’s first artistic director back in 1963.

When asked about his acting training, Norris said he believed his acting background would give him an additional perspective that would be very useful to the new role – an acting background that was nurtured during his time as a member of the Swan Youth Theatre.

The Swan has been home to a youth theatre since it opened in 1965 and the current Swan Youth Theatre comprises eight professionally led groups with ages ranging from five to 19.

Last year the Youth Theatre scooped an impressive six awards at the Worcestershire Theatre Festival, having garnered a total of nine nominations for their entry of Peter Horowitz’s short drama, A Handbag.

The group of six members of the senior group and directed by the youth theatre’s Artistic Director, Ben Humphrey, came away with Best Youth Play, Best Youth Actor, Best Youth Actress, Best Set Award for general stage presentation, the Adjudicator’s Award for the closing moment of the show.

They came second in the festival overall, earning them a place in the All-England Theatre Festival quarter finals before making it to the semi-finals.

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