Nicholas Hytner has been named as the next director of the Royal National Theatre. He will take over from Trevor Nunn in April 2003 for a five-year term.

Hytner, 45, who is the director of the current National Theatre production Mother Clapp's Molly House, pledges to find the "widest possible audience" for the venue.

Hytner said: "I'm thrilled by the challenge of leading the National and of working with a company of outstandingly creative people whom I've loved and admired for many years. I'm honoured to be inheriting it from a great director and hugely encouraged by his support and the enthusiasm of the National Theatre Board."

"I'm looking forward to working with all my colleagues to give voice to the artists who will galvanise the widest possible audience and to filling our stages with the best our theatre has to offer."

The decision over Nunn's successor was made by the 13 members of the Royal National Theatre board, headed by Reuters chairman Sir Christopher Hogg.

Sir Christopher said of the board's choice of director: "Nick Hytner will be a worthy successor in the line of superb directors that the National Theatre has had since its beginnings. He brings to the job skills and a track record which have the respect of the theatre community here and overseas. He has already made outstanding contributions to the National. He understands and loves the big stages. He will involve all who can help in making theatre in our time vital and relevant."

Nicholas Hytner was born in Manchester, and educated at Manchester Grammar School and Cambridge University, where he read English. His first theatre productions were at the Northcott Theatre, Exeter. He then directed a series of productions at the Leeds Playhouse, and in 1985 became an Associate Director of the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester. His productions included Shakespeare’s "As You Like It", Marlowe’s "Edward II", Schiller’s "Don Carlos", Wycherley’s "The Country Wife" and Robin Glendinning’s "Mumbo Jumbo".

He has directed three productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company: "Measure For Measure" (1987), "The Tempest" (1988) and "King Lear" (1990).

From 1990 to 1997 he was an Associate Director of the National Theatre, where he has directed Ghetto by Joshua Sobol (1989), The Wind in the Willows adapted by Alan Bennett (1990), The Madness of George III by Alan Bennett (1991), The Recruiting Officer by George Farquhar (1992), Carousel by Rodgers and Hammerstein (1992), The Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh (1997), The Winter’s Tale (2001), and Mother Clap’s Molly House by Mark Ravenhill (2001).

Other London work has included: Miss Saigon (Drury Lane, 1989; Broadway 1991; and worldwide), Volpone by Ben Jonson (Almeida Theatre, 1990), The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, with Maggie Smith (Aldwych Theatre, 1993), The Lady in the Van by Alan Bennett, with Maggie Smith (Queen’s Theatre, 1999), Cressida by Nicholas Wright, with Michael Gambon (Albery Theatre, 2000) and Orpheus Descending by Tennessee Williams, with Helen Mirren (Donmar Warehouse, 2000).

He is an Associate Director of Lincoln Center Theater, New York, where he directed Carousel in 1994 and Twelfth Night in 1998. His first feature film, The Madness of King George, was released in 1994 by the Samuel Goldwyn Company. It was nominated for four Academy Awards and won both the BAFTA and Evening Standard awards for best British film. He has since directed The Crucible, nominated for two Academy Awards, and The Object of My Affection.

He has received, in addition to the BAFTA and Evening Standard awards for best British film, many other awards including two Olivier Awards, two Evening Standard Awards, the London Critics’ Circle Award, a Drama Desk Award, and a Tony. He was Visiting Professor of Theatre at Oxford University in 2000.

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