Sir Nicholas Hytner

Definition

Theater

  • (1956 - ) British theater and film director; artistic director of the Royal National Theatre since 2003. Hytner was born in Manchester, the son of a judge, and educated at Cambridge University. After a spell working in opera, he became (1985) an associate director of Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre, where his productions included works by Shakespeare and Marlowe. Hytner then made his name with the blockbuster musical Miss Saigon (1989), which ran for nearly 10 years in the West End, transferred successfully to Broadway, and earned a clutch of awards in both London and New York. That same year he became an associate director at the National, where he scored further triumphs with Alan Bennett's The Madness of George III (1991), a revival of Carousel (1992) that later transferred to Broadway,and Martin McDonagh's The Cripple of Inishmaan (1997). Other notable productions of the 1990s included Bennett's The Lady in the Van (1999) and Tennessee Williams's Orpheus Descending (2000) at the Donmar Warehouse.

    By almost universal consent, Hytner's appointment to the top job at the National brought a new purpose and dynamism to an institution that was in some need of both. In particular, a bold policy of reducing main-house tickets to £10 during the summer months resulted in near-capacity audiences that included many young people. A sense of adventure was also evident in the repertoire: Hytner's daring choice of the fringe hit Jerry Springer - the Opera as his opening production was followed by a highly contemporary Henry V (2003), the fantasy epic His Dark Materials (2003), and Stuff Happens (2004), David Hare's sober analysis of the build-up to the Iraq War. In 2004 this run of successes was crowned by Hytner's production of Bennett's The History Boys, which triumphed in both London and New York (where it earned a remarkable six Tony Awards). Subsequent productionsincluded an acclaimed staging of Jonson's The Alchemist (2006).

    Hytner has directed screen versions of both The History Boys (2006) and Bennett's The Madness of George III (1994; as The Madness of King George). His other films include an adaptation of Arthur Miller's The Crucible (1996) and Centre Stage (2004), about a group of would-be ballet dancers in New York.

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