Theatre Critic and Journalist

Tricycle theatre’s new artistic director is Indhu Rubasingham

Tricycle theatre’s new artistic director is Indhu Rubasingham

Published in The Guardian, 16.11.2011

Indhu Rubasingham is to be the new artistic director of the Tricycle theatre, when Nicolas Kent steps down in May next year after 28 years in charge.

Rubasingham, who was until recently a member of the Tricycle’s board, first worked at the theatre in 1998, when she directed a production of Roy Williams’s Starstruck. She has since presented a further five shows at the venue in Kilburn, London, including sections of The Great Game: Afghanistan (directed in collaboration with Kent); Women, Power and Politics; and Detaining Justice, part of the Not Black and White season.

Her forthcoming production of Stones in His Pockets opens at the Tricycle in December.

Speaking exclusively to the Guardian, Rubasingham said: “I’m even more excited than I expected. It’s taken me by surprise. I didn’t know I wanted to be an artistic director until recently, but the chance to lead a building with my vision is really exciting. It’s a big challenge.”

Rubasingham is highly rated as a director after critically acclaimed productions at the Almeida, National and Royal Court theatres, but this will be her first stint in charge of an organisation. “That feels quite a grownup thing to do,” she admitted. Before taking charge, she will direct Bola Agbaje’s Belong at the Royal Court in April and is currently working on a play based on Ken Saro-Wiwa’s short story Africa Kills Her Sun.

She will become only the third person to lead the Tricycle as an independent theatre since its inception in 1980 as the permanent home of the Wakefield Tricycle Company. Kent took over in 1984 and announced his departure earlier this year, blaming a £350,000 drop in the venue’s funding. His tenure has established the Tricycle as a leading political theatre, best known for its “tribunal” verbatim plays such as The Colour of Justice, a staged version of the 1999 Stephen Lawrence inquiry, and 2007’s Called to Account, a fictional trial of Tony Blair over his actions in Iraq.

The theatre will retain its political impetus, Rubasingham said, but it will be expressed in new and different ways. “I would see it not as a court of public morality, but as a court of unheard voices.”

She continued: “It’s very early days, but I really want to build on the reputation of the Tricycle. What I’m really interested in is presenting work that looks at the world – from the local neighbourhood up to an international scale – through different lenses and from different perspectives.”

In a statement, Kent said he was “very happy” about the appointment, describing his successor as “a very talented director and an inspiration to those with whom she works”.

He added: “I am confident that she will lead the Tricycle with imagination and boldness.”

Of Kent, Rubasingham said: “They’re very big shoes to fill. There’s no point trying to emulate him, because his strengths are his individuality. I’ve got to follow my own voice and vision. As long as I’m asking the right questions and really committing to the audience, I think I’ll do OK.”

Photograph: Alistair Muir

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