Playwright of Taking Shakespeare.
During the past 35 years, John Murrell has become one of Canada’s most frequently produced playwrights, as well as a highly respected arts advocate, mentor and consultant. His plays have been translated into more than 15 languages and performed in more than 30 countries around the world. Among his best known works are Waiting for the Parade (about five Calgary women during World War II), Memoir (about the final summer of legendary French actress Sarah Bernhardt), Farther West (detailing a prairie prostitute’s search for absolute freedom) and Democracy (about a meeting between poet Walt Whitman and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson during the American Civil War). Both Waiting for the Parade and Farther West were filmed and have been shown repeatedly on CBC Television. As a translator, Murrell has created acclaimed versions of Chekhov’s The Seagull, Uncle Vanya and The Cherry Orchard, of Sophocles’ Oedipus the King and of Cocteau’s The Human Voice (all produced by the Stratford Festival), as well as Ibsen’s The Doll House and several plays by contemporary Québec playwright Carole Fréchette. He was the librettist for three operas by Canadian composer John Estacio (Filumena, Frobisher and Lillian Alling) and for one by conductor/composer Bramwell Tovey (The Inventor). All four operas were broadcast on CBC and Radio-Canada, and Filumena was filmed and telecast by both CBC-TV and by Public Television in the United States. Murrell has served as Playwright-in-Residence at Alberta Theatre Projects and Theatre Calgary, as an Associate Director of the Stratford Festival, as Head of the Banff Playwrights Colony, Head of the Theatre Section of the Canada Council for the Arts, and as Artistic Director/Executive Producer of Theatre Arts at The Banff Centre. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada, a member of the Alberta Order of Excellence, a winner of the prestigious Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts and an inaugural recipient of the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta’s Distinguished Artist Award, and in 2009 was honoured with the Governor General of Canada’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement.