Hirsch starts previews ahead of July 12 première

June 20, 2012… Hirsch, a powerful new one-man show about the life of Canadian theatre legend and former Festival Artistic Director John Hirsch, begins previews at the Studio Theatre on June 20.

This world première production is a fiery invocation of one of the country’s theatrical pioneers. Performed by Alon Nashman and conceived and created by Mr. 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.

A native of Hungary, 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 twentieth 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 play, developed at Stratford in a series of residencies and workshops over the past three years, chronicles his life from his childhood in pre-war Hungary to his early death in 1989.

“John Hirsch’s contribution to the development of Canadian theatre was incalculable,” says Artistic Director Des McAnuff. “His work, both here at the Festival and elsewhere, was informed by his searing passion for truth in art and by his profound understanding of the darkness and the light that co-exist in the human soul. I am delighted that in this, our milestone sixtieth season, his spirit will spring to life on our stage once more.”

“John Hirsch was fearless. He lived an incredible life and brought all of the pleasure and pain of his experiences to his work,” says General Director Antoni Cimolino. “This play, which is a tribute to his many contributions to the theatre and a celebration of his extraordinary life, will be a touching and inspiring experience for all.”

The artistic team for this production includes Designer Gillian Gallow, Lighting Designer Itai Erdal, Sound Designer Verne Goode, Dramaturge Bob White and Stunt Coordinator Todd Campbell.

Production support is generously provided by Larry Enkin & Family in memory of Sharon Enkin.

This year, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival celebrates its 60th season, with 14 productions presented from April 12 to October 28:  Much Ado About Nothing42nd StreetThe MatchmakerHenry VYou’re a Good Man, Charlie BrownThe Pirates of PenzanceA Word or TwoCymbelineWanderlustElektraMacHomerThe Best BrothersHirsch; and The War of 1812.

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