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Michael Hurst
Founder, Producer, Artistic Director, Actor

At 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 forms."

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 Fantasia.

He was honored by the Arts Foundation of New Zealand with a 2003 Laureate Award.

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 Tempest
The Merchant of Venice
King Lear
Measure For Measure

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