John Stephen Hirsch

John Stephen Hirsch, theatre director, administrator (born at Siófok, Hungary 1 May 1930; d at Toronto 1 Aug 1989). John Hirsch immigrated to Winnipeg in 1947 and after graduating from U of Man established the Muddiwater Puppets and a troupe for children. In 1957 he and Tom HENDRY co-founded Theatre 77, which they combined with the Winnipeg Little Theatre in 1958 to form the MANITOBA THEATRE CENTRE (with Hirsch as artistic director); it was destined to be the model for a chain of regional stock companies across Canada.

From 1967 to 1969 he was co-director of the STRATFORD FESTIVAL and from 1974 to 1978 head of television drama for the CBC. From 1981 to 1985 he was sole artistic director at Stratford, sustaining the theatre in a period when its existence was threatened. Between appointments he has guided productions for Ottawa's NATIONAL ARTS CENTRE, Toronto Arts Productions, Young People's Theatre and the SHAW FESTIVAL, as well as elsewhere in Canada and abroad.

Several of John Hirsch's American productions have been honoured. He won the Outer Circle Critics' Award for Saint Joan at the Lincoln Center, New York, an Obie Award for AC-DC at the Chelsea Theater, off-Broadway and the Drama Critics' Award for The Dybbuk at the Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles (1975), a play he translated and adapted.

His work has been seen, as well, at the Tyrone Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, the Seattle Repertory Theater and the Habimah Theatre in Tel Aviv. Following his tenure at Stratford, John Hirsch taught theatre at Yale, was a visiting lecturer and director at U of California in San Diego and the Southern Methodist U in Dallas. He made one film as an actor, Sword of Gideon, in 1986. When he died in 1989 of AIDS, his life was celebrated in star-studded public tributes in Stratford, Winnipeg and Toronto. Awards in his name have been established for young directors in Ontario and playwrights in Manitoba.