John Stephen Hirsch, OC was an Hungarian-Canadian theater director. He was born in SiÃƒÂ³fok, Hungary to JÃƒÂ³zsef and Ilona Hirsch, both of whom perished in The Holocaust along with his younger brother IstvÃƒÂ¡n. Hirsch survived after spending most of the Second World War years in Budapest, and came to Canada in 1947 through the War Orphans Project of the Canadian Jewish Congress. Arriving in Winnipeg, Hirsch was taken into the home of Alex and Pauline Shack. He remained close to the Shacks for the rest of his life, and although he lived in New York and Toronto, maintained strong ties with the city of Winnipeg.
In 1957, Hirsch 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 and Hendry as manager. MTC became an influential model for regional theatres across Canada and the United States, and is one of Hirsch's most important contributions to Canadian theatre. He directed many plays and musicals at MTC, which he left in 1965.
Over the years, he directed at many Canadian theatres such as Toronto's Crest Theatre, the National Arts Centre, Young People's Theatre, and the Shaw Festival. His 1976 production of Three Sisters at the Stratford Festival, with Maggie Smith, Martha Henry and Marti Maraden in the title roles, won great acclaim.