John Hirsch

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John Stephen Hirsch OC (born May 1, 1930 in Siófok , Hungary , † August 1, 1989 in Toronto , Canada ) was a Hungarian-Canadian theater director and director.


John Hirsch was born in Siófok, Hungary, on May 1, 1930, as the son of the married couple József and Ilona Hirsch, both of whom, like his younger brother István, were to become victims of the Holocaust . Hirsch survived by hiding in Budapest for most of World War II with the help of a maid . After the war he was initially housed in a refugee camp for Jewish children in Aschau . Together with his childhood friend, Marianne Bolgar, he and the children staged Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale The Snow Queen as a play in the camp. He came to Canada via detours ( Romania , Greece , Israel ) thanks to a war orphan project of the Canadian Jewish Congress . When he arrived in Winnipeg , he was housed in the household of the couple Alex and Pauline Shack. He remained closely connected to the couple until his death, even if he later lived in New York and Toronto, he had strong roots in Winnipeg.

In 1957, John Hirsch and Tom Hendry founded Theater 77 together , which they merged with the Winnipeg Little Theater the following year to form the Manitoba Theater Center (MTC), where Hirsch was responsible for artistic direction and Hendry for management. The Manitoba Theater Center became an influential theater model for many regional theaters in Canada and the United States . This is considered to be the main influence Hirsch had on Canadian theater. John Hirsch directed many plays and musicals at MTC, which he left in 1965.

Over the years he has led many Canadian theaters including Toronto's Crest Theater, the National Arts Center, the Young People's Theater, and the Shaw Festival. His production of Henrik Ibsen's Three Sisters at the 1976 Stratford Festival with Maggie Smith , Martha Henry and Marti Maraden received wide acclaim.

He served as artistic co-director of the Stratford Festival from 1967 to 1969, director of the television drama division of the CBC from 1974 to 1978, and artistic director of the Stratfort Festival from 1981 to 1985. In the meantime, he had served as advisory artistic director of the Seattle Repertory Theater (1979-1981).

In the United States won John Hirsch Outer Circle Critics' Award for his production of The Maid of Orleans at Lincoln Center and an Obie Award for AC / DC at the Chelsea Theater in New York. In 1975 he won the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for his production The Dybbuk at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles . This piece had also translated and adapted. He also directed the Habimah Theater in Israel in 1970.

In 1967 he was appointed Officer of the Order of Canada for his services to the performance of the arts.

John Hirsch died of complications from an illness caused by HIV infection in Toronto, Ontario on August 1, 1989.


In 1989 the Manitoba Foundation for the Arts established the John Hirsch Award for Manitoba's Most Promising Writer. A foundation from the Hirsch estate secures a financial award for the young writers of this Canadian province, which is awarded by a jury of well-known writers and publishers from this region. Past winners include David Bergen , Miriam Toews , Alissa York and Chandra Mayor .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Fraidie Martz and Andrew Wilson, A Fiery Soul: The Life and Theatrical Times of John Hirsch , Montreal: Véhicule Press , 2011
  2. ^ Robert Cushman: John Hirsch biography remembers Canada's greatest director. In: National Post , November 30, 2011 ( Memento of the original from December 7, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. ^ Canadian Theater Encyclopedia
  4. ^ Order of Canada