Stage Door News

Toronto: The Tarragon Theatre issues a statement on the passing of John Murrell

Thursday, November 14, 2019

John Murrell (1945-2019) had a long legacy of work at Tarragon Theatre as translator, playwright and director, notably his seminal work Waiting for the Parade from 1979, remounted countless times across the country, including Tarragon’s remount in 1991/92. Other plays written by John and produced at Tarragon were Farther West, New World, Democracy, and The Faraway Nearby.

As translator, John was most recently at Tarragon Theatre with his translation of Carole Fréchette’s The Small Room at the Top of the Stairs. His prolific body of work as translator for Tarragon alone included Bajazet, The Master Builder, Uncle Vanya, The Four Lives Of Marie, Elisa’s Skin, Helen’s Necklace, John and Beatrice.

Artistic Director Richard Rose remembers, “John Murrell wrote plays that made you change the way you think.  I first saw his play Farther West and it simply rocked me with its provocation and theatrical daring.  His drama was at once visionary and humane, bringing out the very best work in the theatre artists he collaborated with. His voice will be missed.”

Former Tarragon Associate Artistic Director Andy McKim commented, “I am saddened at the news of John Murrell’s passing. It was my distinct pleasure to work with him for decades. His powerful and uncompromising vision was always an inspiration to all of us. He was a giant in the Canadian theatre world and one of our most poetic playwrights. His evocative theatrical worlds will stand out over time as evidence of the best we can be.”

John was an Order of Canada recipient, a member of the Alberta Order of Excellence, a recipient of the prestigious Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts, and of the Governor General of Canada’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement.

His voice in Canadian Theatre cannot be overstated and he will be missed immensely. Our collective hearts go out to his friends and family.

Photo: John Murrell.