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Hytner, Sir Nicholas (b. 1956)  
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In 2003, Hytner was named Artistic Director of London's Royal National Theatre. According to a 2010 profile in the Guardian, "Hytner has led [the National Theatre] through its most stable and creative period since it was set up . . . nearly 50 years ago."

Hytner immediately launched a string of diverse, innovative productions, including a six-hour, two-play adaptation of Philip Pullman's fantasy novel trilogy His Dark Materials (2003); the 2003 musical Jerry Springer: The Opera (music and lyrics by Richard Thomas and Stewart Lee) based on incidents from the notorious television program The Jerry Springer Show; David Hare's dissection of the events that led up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Stuff Happens (2004), which intermingles verbatim quotes from real speeches and press conferences with fictionalized versions of private meetings between British and American political figures; War Horse (2007), about a British cavalry steed during World War I, based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo and adapted for the stage by Nick Stafford; and One Man, Two Guvnors (2011), a modern update by Richard Bean of a 1743 commedia dell'arte comedy by Carlo Goldoni.

Hytner also continued his successful collaboration with Alan Bennett on The History Boys. Set in 1983 within an all-boys grammar school attended mainly by working-class students, the play, in a highly entertaining and witty way, focuses on a discussion of pedagogic methods, setting new and imaginative approaches to learning against more established and less flexible ones.

The play pits Douglas Hector, an eccentric teacher who revels in knowledge for its own sake, against Mr. Irwin, who advocates a more cynical and ruthless style of learning. Bennett also complicates the issues by making Hector an amiable pederast who likes to grope the male students as they ride on his motorbike and by making Irwin a closeted homosexual terrified of acting on his impulses.

The play opened at the National Theatre in 2004 where it was met with ecstatic reviews and was transferred to Broadway two years later. Both productions won multiple awards, including the 2005 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play and the 2006 Tony Award for Best Play.

Hytner himself won an Olivier Award for Best Direction and a Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play, as well as the 2006 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Direction of a Play.

A film version of the play was released in 2006, directed by Hytner, with the original National Theatre cast reprising their roles. The film was nominated for a 2007 GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) Media Award for Outstanding Film.

Other theatrical collaborations with Hytner and Bennett include The Lady in the Van (1999), The Habit of Art (2009), about the relationship between the gay poet W.H. Auden and the gay composer Benjamin Britten, and People (2012).

In 2010, Hytner was knighted for his "services to drama."

He currently divides his time between homes in New York and London.

Craig Kaczorowski

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arts >> Overview:  Film

Since cinema began, Hollywood has been fascinated with finding ways of representing homosexuality.

arts >> Overview:  Film Directors

Gay, lesbian, and bisexual film directors have been a vital creative presence in cinema since the medium's inception over one hundred years ago.

arts >> Overview:  Musical Theater and Film

The musical has been a significant aspect of American gay male culture, manifesting itself both in diva worship and, more recently, in the presentation of openly gay characters and shows written by gay writers primarily for gay audiences.

arts >> Overview:  Opera

Opera, an eclectic synthesis of voice, drama, music, costume, visual arts and spectacle, has played an integral role in queer culture since its development in seventeenth century Venice.

arts >> Overview:  Theater Companies

Gay and lesbian theater companies attempt to create their own communities, while also fostering a sense of solidarity with the glbtq community and educating the larger society.

literature >> Auden, W. H.

One of the most accomplished poets of the twentieth century, W. H. Auden found that his gayness led him to new insights into the universal impulse to love and enlarged his understanding of all kinds of relationships.

arts >> Britten, Benjamin

The most acclaimed British composer of the twentieth century, Benjamin Britten created many works that were inspired by his long-time personal and professional relationship with his lover, Peter Pears.

arts >> Handel, George Frideric

Around George Frideric Handel, one of the towering figures of Western classical music, was constructed the first biographical closet, of many to come, for a major composer in the West.

arts >> Hawthorne, Sir Nigel

Somewhat to his chagrin, British stage and film actor Nigel Hawthorne was acclaimed as the first openly gay actor to be nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actor.

arts >> Mantello, Joe

Having staged a variety of well-received and award-winning productions, actor-turned-director Joe Mantello has emerged as one of the most accomplished artists now working in the American theater.

literature >> McCauley, Stephen

A master of the modern comedy of manners, novelist Stephen McCauley has been praised for his shrewd observations about contemporary morals, his tart dialogue and ironic tone, and his charming, self-deprecating gay male protagonists.

arts >> Richardson, Tony

Bisexual British film and stage director Tony Richardson was instrumental in challenging British censorship codes, especially regarding the representation of homosexuals.

literature >> Shakespeare, William

As one of the key figures that western civilization has used to define itself, William Shakespeare stands in a complicated, fiercely contested relationship to homosexuality.

arts >> Tippett, Sir Michael

English composer Sir Michael Tippett became one of the most respected figures in British classical music despite his pacifism, unabashed homosexuality, and incorporation of homosexual themes in his operas.

arts >> Wheeldon, Christopher

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arts >> Wolfe, George C.

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Costa, Maddy. "Saint Nick." The Guardian (March 21, 2004):

Dickson, Andrew. "A Life in Theatre: Nicholas Hytner." The Guardian (October 15, 2010):

Frutkin, Alan. "Nick's New Direction." The Advocate (March 31, 1998): 61-62.

Galvin, Peter. "Nick of Time." The Advocate (November 26, 1996): 51-54.

Gibbons, Fiachra. "The Guardian Profile: Nicholas Hytner." The Guardian (September 26, 2003):

Lahr, John. "Curtain-raiser: Nicholas Hytner's Theatrical Golden Age." The New Yorker (April 23, 2012):

Thorpe, Vanessa. "National Ringmaster." The Observer (March 30, 2003):


    Citation Information
    Author: Kaczorowski, Craig  
    Entry Title: Hytner, Sir Nicholas  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2013  
    Date Last Updated January 17, 2013  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2013 glbtq, Inc.  


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