Founder, Producer, Artistic Director, Actor
the age of 13, seeing King Lear performed on stage blew
Michael Hurst away.
"It absolutely nailed me to the wall. I couldn't believe
it. I was emotionally wrung by something that I didn't fully understand,
but the perception it gave me of the enormity of the well of human
feeling and emotion--even though I couldn't have put it in those
terms when I was 13--that is what stayed with me. I believe that's
what great art does and I believe that great art comes in all
That was the beginning of a lifelong passion for performing and
directing the works of Shakespeare. Over the course of his 25-year
career, he has performed seven different Shakespeare roles on
stage and has directed eight Shakespeare plays, including his
highly successful 1994 and 2003 productions of Hamlet.
He has taught Shakespeare at the Performing Arts School, and studied
it at Auckland University. These days he is involved in Classical
Studies at Massey University, concentrating on the great tragedies
of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides.
He has also directed and performed in a wide range of theatre--from
Greek classics like Medea and Lysistrata to
the New Zealand comedies Ladies Night and The Sex
Fiend, as well as pantomimes he has written himself--Jack
and the Beanstalk and the triumphant Aladdin, which
he still regards as a career highlight; its revival for the 2003
Auckland Festival met with critical acclaim and sell-out audiences.
The Widow Twankey, a memorable pantomime dame he created
for that production, was recorded for posterity when he revived
her with amazing success in three episodes of Hercules.
His recent stage performances include the box office hit The
Rocky Horror Show, Travesties, Waiting for Godot,
Goldie, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead,
as well as Hamlet and Macbeth for The Large
Group (which he also directed). He will be appearing in
the Duchess of Malfi for ATC in 2005.
In parallel with his theatre career, Hurst has built an international
profile as a television actor and director. He played Iolaus to
Kevin Sorbo's Hercules for seven seasons of Hercules:
The Legendary Journeys, as well as several other roles in
the same series and many guest lead roles in Xena: Warrior
Princess. He also directed eleven episodes of both shows
and Amazon High, a US series pilot.
He has played leading and supporting roles in several New Zealand
feature films, including Desperate Remedies, Death
Warmed Up, Dangerous Orphans and The Footstep
Man and more recently I'll Make You Happy and Fracture.
He directed the feature film Jubilee, which starred Cliff
Curtis, and two kid's films, Treasure Island Kids: The Monster
of Treasure Island and Treasure Island Kids: The Mystery
of Treasure Island.
His New Zealand television roles include Highwater, Typhon's
People and Shark in the Park and he directed the
comedy Love Mussel, which starred his close friend Kevin
Smith. He was recently seen as a version of himself in the TV2
talent search show, Showstoppers and was the lead character
in the original 1993 Lion Red "Red-Blooded" television
commercial. He will next be seen in the new series Maddigan's
was honored by the Arts Foundation of New Zealand with a 2003
Shakespeare roles performed:
Hamlet in Hamlet (in his own 1994 and 2003 productions)
Macbeth in Macbeth
Laertes in Hamlet
Paris in Romeo and Juliet
Touchstone in As You Like It
Florizel in The Winter's Tale
The Fool in King Lear
Shakespeare plays directed:
Romeo and Juliet
The Merchant of Venice
Measure For Measure
here for full cv)