Late Director John Hirsch Is Subject of Hirsch, a World Premiere Opening July 12 at Stratford Festival

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12 Jul 2012

Alon Nashman as John Hirsch
Alon Nashman as John Hirsch
Photo by Andrew Eccles

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario is shining a spotlight on one of its own late, great masters this summer in the one-man show Hirsch, a portrait of the Hungarian-born Canadian theatre director who once served as the festival's artistic director. Opening night is July 12 following previews from June 20.

This world-premiere production, in rep to Sept. 14 at Stratford's Studio Theatre, is billed as "a fiery invocation of one of the country's theatrical pioneers."

Performed by Alon Nashman and conceived and created by Nashman and director Paul Thompson, "the play presents Hirsch as a trailblazing artist and unique personality, one who left a mark on Canadian theatre and Canadian theatre artists that endures to this day."

The play was developed at Stratford in a series of residencies and workshops over the past three years. It tells of his life from his childhood in pre-war Hungary, where Hirsch was reportedly one of only a few survivors from his village of 800 Jews, to his premature death from AIDS in 1989, when he was 59 years old. Hirsch's work was also seen in the U.S. — at Lincoln Center Theater, the Guthrie Theater, Mark Taper Forum, Off-Broadway and elsewhere.

"A native of Hungary," according to Festival notes, "Hirsch lost his family in the Holocaust and survived years of wandering in post-war Europe, finally arriving as a refugee in Winnipeg in 1947. He then went on to help define the course of Canadian culture in the latter half of the 20th century. His accomplishments were many: as well as co-founding the country's first regional theatre, the Manitoba Theatre Centre, he was Head of Drama at the CBC in the 1970s and served two stints at Stratford, as associate director from 1967 to 1969 and as artistic director from 1981 to 1985."



The artistic team includes designer Gillian Gallow, lighting designer Itai Erdal, sound designer Verne Goode, dramaturg Bob White and stunt coordinator Todd Campbell.

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The Stratford Shakespeare Festival's 2012 season runs in rep on four stage until Oct. 28, featuring Much Ado About Nothing; 42nd Street, The Matchmaker; Henry V; You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown; The Pirates of Penzance; A Word or Two; Cymbeline; Wanderlust; Elektra; MacHomer; The Best Brothers; Hirsch and The War of 1812.

For more information, visit stratfordfestival.ca.