Entertainment & Arts

Brexit vote was low point, says National Theatre's Rufus Norris

Rufus Norris Image copyright PA
Image caption Rufus Norris says the National Theatre will continue to be an international brand

National Theatre boss Rufus Norris says the referendum vote to leave the EU has been the "lowest moment" of his tenure.

"On a personal level there's a been a few moments where I've thought 'I can't do it, I'm not very good'," Norris told BBC Arts Editor Will Gompertz.

"But certainly the lowest moment was the Brexit vote because... it exposed how much work there is to do to make this country joined up."

Norris replaced Sir Nicholas Hytner as NT artistic director in April 2015.

In an interview for Radio 4's Today programme, Norris said that Brexit could have "serious financial repercussions" for the National.

"Our first job is to educate ourselves to listen a lot more and find out why it is that organisations like the National Theatre are entirely disregarded by half the population, or seen as irrelevant."

'Leather skin'

He added that the National Theatre would continue to be an "international brand".

"I'm going to a big European theatre festival and one of the things I'll be saying to our European partners is that it is absolutely business as usual," he said.

"Art has no boundaries - if Scotland leave we will continue to work with Scotland.

"We were in Paris doing Wonder.land three or four weeks ago - it was a fantastic collaboration - it went really well and there is no way that those relationships are going to die."

Norris admitted that he'd needed to grow a "leather skin" over his 14 months in the job.

He said that criticism was "constant" and "something you have to start getting used to and seeing as part of the whole picture".

Norris's first production after taking charge at the National was Everyman, Carol Ann Duffy's reworking of the 15th-century morality play starring Chiwetel Ejiofor.

He co-created Wonder.land, a musical inspired by Lewis Carroll's famous story, with Damon Albarn and Moira Buffini.

More recently, Norris and artist Jeremy Deller were behind the recent Somme commemoration project - We're Here Because We're Here - which saw hundreds of volunteers dressed as World War One soldiers appearing in public spaces across the UK.


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