Indhu Rubasingham

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Indhu Rubasingham

Known forArtistic Director of Kiln Theatre
Indhu Rubasingham. Photograph: Mark Douet

Indhu Rubasingham, MBE, is a British theatre director and the current[1] artistic director of the Kiln Theatre (formerly the Tricycle Theatre) in Kilburn, London.

Early life[edit]

Born in Sheffield to Tamil parents from Sri Lanka in 1970, Rubasingham was educated at Nottingham Girls' High School[2][citation needed], after which she studied drama at Hull University,[3] where she received an honorary doctorate in 2017.[4]


Freelance directing[edit]

Soon after graduating from Hull University, Rubasingham received an Arts Council bursary to work as a trainee director at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, where she assisted director Mike Leigh. She then worked as a freelance theatre director for over fifteen years and during this time held posts as an associate director at the Gate Theatre, the Young Vic, and the Birmingham Repertory Theatre.[5]

She has worked across the UK and internationally. Her focus has been predominantly directing new writing and developing exciting voices. Themes that often arise in her work explore and examine ideas around British identity and the threads of human connection that crosses race, culture and identity; telling stories from different perspectives and specificity that reveals the universality of the human spirit.[6]

Rubasingham had a long relationship with the international department at the Royal Court Theatre when headed by Elyse Dodgson[7] which allowed her to forge relationships with playwrights from Cuba, Mexico, Brazil, Uganda and India. Indhu has also had a longstanding relationship with Sundance Theatre Lab (2011–2019),[8] under the artistic directorship of Philip Himberg. She has directed radio plays for BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 3 and the BBC World Service.

She is a trustee for the Royal Opera House,[9] Metroland (Brent),[10] the George Devine Award and the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Previous trustee positions include Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, British Council Advisory Board and the Regional Theatre Young Directors Scheme, for which Rubasingham is currently a patron. She is on the judging panel for the Channel 4 Playwriting Scheme[11] and the Phil Fox Award for Playwriting. Since 2021, she has been on the judging panel of The Women's Prize for Playwriting, becoming Chair in 2023.[12]

In 2017, Rubasingham was awarded an MBE in the 2017 New Year Honours List.[citation needed]

As artistic director[edit]

Indhu Rubasingham succeeded Nicolas Kent as artistic director of the Tricycle Theatre in 2012. In April 2018, after a capital renovation, the theatre's name was changed to the Kiln Theatre.[13]  

Rubasingham's mission for Kiln Theatre is to make theatre for all by making space for unheard/ignored voices to be part of the mainstream and be a local theatre with an international vision.[14] The theatre sits in the Borough of Brent.

Rubasingham oversaw a £9 million major renovation of the building, which reopened in 2018.[15] The revamped building includes an adaptable stage in the larger 292-seat theatre, better sightlines, new lighting facilities, a new café, improved disabled access and gender-neutral toilets.

Under her artistic leadership, the creative engagement programme aims to champion the imagination, aspiration and potential of the Brent community young and old.[16]

During her time as artistic director, her production of Red Velvet by Lolita Chakrabarti was transferred to the West End's Garrick Theatre[17] and St Ann's Warehouse Theater in New York. Her production of Moira Buffini's Handbagged was transferred to the West End's Vaudeville Theatre prior to a UK tour before playing at 59e59 in New York and Washington, D.C.'s Round House Theatre.[citation needed] Her production of Zadie Smith's The Wife of Willesden has transferred to American Repertory Theatre, Harvard University and Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Rubasingham programmed Florian Zeller's ‘Family Trilogy,’ including 'The Son,' which was transferred to the West End's Duke of York's Theatre in 2019; and The Father, which was transferred to the West End's Wyndham's Theatre in 2015 before being moved to the West End's Duke of York's Theatre in 2016. The Father was adapted for the 2020 film starring Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman, directed by Zeller.

In August 2014, while she was artistic director, she was at the centre of an antisemitism controversy over the funding of the UK Jewish Film Festival, intended to have been held at the theatre.


  • Best Director, The Father and the Assassin, Eastern Eye Arts, Culture & Theatre Awards (2023)[18]
  • Kiln Theatre ‘Best London Theatre’ The Stage Awards (2021)[19]
  • Best Director, White Teeth, ACTA – Eastern Eye's Arts Culture & Theatre Awards (2019)
  • Tonic Awards (2017)
  • Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre, Handbagged (2014)
  • The Arts & Culture Award, Asian Women of Achievement Awards (2012)
  • Liberty Human Rights Award (2010)
  • The Carlton Multi-Cultural Achievement Award for Performing Arts (2001)


Year Play Production Notes
2023 The Wife of Willesden by Zadie Smith Brooklyn Academy of Music NY premiere
2023 The Wife of Willesden by Zadie Smith American Repertory Theater, Harvard University US premiere
2022 Kerry Jackson by April de Angelis National Theatre UK premiere
2022 The Wife of Willesden by Zadie Smith Kiln Theatre First major revival
2022 Handbagged by Moira Buffini Kiln Theatre First major revival
2022 The Father and the Assassin by Anupama Chandrasekhar National Theatre World premiere
2021 The Wife of Willesden by Zadie Smith Kiln Theatre World premiere
2021 The Invisible Hand by Ayad Akhtar Kiln Theatre First major revival
2021 Girl on an Altar (Rehearsed Reading) by Marina Carr Kiln Theatre Live Stream. Co-directed with Susie McKenna
2020 The Invisible Hand (Rehearsed Reading) by Ayad Akhtar Kiln Theatre Live Stream
2020 Pass Over by Antoinette Nwandu Kiln Theatre UK premiere
2019 When the Crows Visit by Anupama Chandrasekhar Kiln Theatre World Premiere
2019 Wife by Samuel Adamson Kiln Theatre World Premiere
2018 White Teeth by Zadie Smith, adapted by Stephen Sharkey Kiln Theatre World Premiere
2018 Holy Sh!t by Alexis Zegerman Kiln Theatre World Premiere
2018 The Great Wave by Francis Turnly National Theatre World Premiere. A co-production with Kiln Theatre
2017 Ugly Lies the Bone by Lindsey Ferrentino National Theatre
2016 The Invisible Hand by Ayad Akhtar Tricycle Theatre UK Premiere
2015 A Wolf in Snakeskin Shoes by Marcus Gardley Tricycle Theatre
2015 The Motherfucker with the Hat by Stephen Adly Guirgis National Theatre Winner of Best Play and nominated for Best Director at Evening Standard Theatre Awards.
2015 Multitudes by John Hollingworth Tricycle Theatre
2014 The House That Will Not Stand by Marcus Gardley Tricycle Theatre
2013 Handbagged by Moira Buffini Tricycle Theatre West End transfer, Vaudeville Theatre, in 2014
2012 Red Velvet by Lolita Chakrabarti Tricycle Theatre Winner Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre Laurence Olivier Awards. New York transfer, St. Ann's Warehouse, in 2014. UK tour in 2015. West End transfer, Garrick Theatre, in 2016
2012 Belong by Bola Agbaje Royal Court Theatre
2011 Stones in His Pockets by Marie Jones Tricycle Theatre
2010 Ruined by Lynn Nottage Almeida Theatre
2010 Women, Power and Politics by various authors including Moira Buffini and Rebecca Lenkiewicz Tricycle Theatre
2010 Disconnect by Anupama Chandrasekhar Royal Court Theatre
2009 Detaining Justice by Bola Agbaje Tricycle Theatre
2009 The Great Game (with Nicolas Kent ) Tricycle Theatre Also US Tour, finishing at The Pentagon, Washington.
2008 Wuthering Heights, adapted by April De Angelis from the novel by Emily Brontë Birmingham Rep
2007 Free Outgoing by Anupama Chandrasekhar Traverse Theatre
2007 Pure Gold by Michael Bhim Soho Theatre
2007 Heartbreak House by G.B. Shaw Watford Palace Theatre
2007 Free Outgoing by Anupama Chandrasekhar Royal Court Theatre
2006 Sugar Mummies by Tanika Gupta Royal Court Theatre
2006 Fabulation by Lynn Nottage Tricycle Theatre
2005 The Morris by Helen Blakeman Liverpool Everyman
2004 Anna in the Tropics by Nilo Cruz Hampstead Theatre
2004 Another America a new opera by Errolyn Wallen Sadler's Wells
2003 Yellowman by Dael Orlandersmith Liverpool Everyman and Hampstead Theatre
2003 Rhinoceros by Ionesco UCDavis, California
2002 The Misanthrope by Molière, in an adaptation by Martin Crimp Minerva Theatre, Chichester
2002 Bombay Dreams Apollo Victoria Associate Director
2002 Romeo and Juliet Chichester Festival Theatre
2001 Secret Rapture by David Hare Minerva Theatre, Chichester
2001 Clubland by Roy Williams Royal Court Theatre
2001 Ramayana National Theatre
2000 The Waiting Room by Tanika Gupta National Theatre
2000 Ramayana Birmingham Rep
1999 Time of Fire by Charles Mulekwa Birmingham Rep
1999 Lift Off by Roy Williams Royal Court Theatre
1998 The Crutch by Ruwanthie Dechickera Royal Court Theatre (Upstairs)
1998 Starstruck by Roy Williams Tricycle Theatre Received the John Whiting Award and an EMMAs Award.
1998 Kaahini by Maya Chowdhry Birmingham Rep
1997 A River Sutra by Gita Mehta adapted by Tanika Gupta Three Mills Island Studios Received Diverse Acts Award from LAB.
1997 Shakuntala by Kalidasa adapted by Peter Oswald Gate Theatre
1996 Storming Young Writers Festival Royal Court Theatre (Upstairs)
1996 Gulp Fiction by Trish Cooke Theatre Royal Stratford East
1996 No Boys' Cricket Club by Roy Williams Theatre Royal Stratford East
1996 Sugar Dollies by Klaus Chatten Gate Theatre
1996 A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen Young Vic Studio
1994/1995 D'yer Eat With Your Fingers?! Theatre Royal Stratford East
1994 Party Girls by Debbie Plentie Theatre Royal Stratford East


  1. ^ Trueman, Matt (16 November 2011). "Tricycle theatre's new artistic director is Indhu Rubasingham". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 14 February 2023.
  2. ^ Raffray, Nathalie. "MBE for Tricyle Theatre's artistic director". Kilburn Times. Retrieved 15 June 2018.
  3. ^ "Media & Entertainment – University of Hull". Archived from the original on 23 June 2016. Retrieved 28 January 2017.
  4. ^ dsimpson2 (17 October 2017). "Alumni invited to nominate candidates for Honorary Degrees". University of Hull Alumni Association. Retrieved 18 March 2021.
  5. ^ "Indhu Rubasingham Masterclass". Retrieved 28 January 2017.
  6. ^ "Our Story | Kiln Theatre". Retrieved 14 February 2023.
  7. ^ "Elyse Dodgson obituary". The Guardian. 2 November 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2021.
  8. ^ "Sundance Institute Announces 2018 Theatre Lab Acting Company and Creative Advisors". 1 May 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2021.
  9. ^ "Royal Opera House appoints David Ross as Chair of the Board of Trustees". Retrieved 18 March 2021.
  10. ^ "Brent2020 — ABOUT METROLAND CULTURES". Retrieved 18 March 2021.
  11. ^ "Channel 4 Announces Winners of Playwrights' Scheme Bursaries | Channel 4". Retrieved 18 March 2021.
  12. ^ "2023 Judges - The Women's Prize for Playwriting". 11 December 2022. Retrieved 14 February 2023.
  13. ^ "Over Kiln: the Tricycle theatre doesn't need a new name". The Guardian. 3 September 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2021.
  14. ^ "Our Mission | Kiln Theatre". Retrieved 18 March 2021.
  15. ^ Ackerman, Naomi (5 September 2018). "Have a first glimpse inside revamped 'widescreen' Kiln Theatre". Retrieved 18 March 2021.
  16. ^ "Get Involved | Kiln Theatre". Retrieved 14 February 2023.
  17. ^ "Red Velvet (Garrick Theatre) | WhatsOnStage". Retrieved 18 March 2021.
  18. ^ "2023 Winners". ACTAs 2022. Retrieved 14 February 2023.
  19. ^ "The Stage Awards winners 2021: Kiln Theatre, London theatre of the year". The Stage. Retrieved 18 March 2021.