Royal Manitoba Theatre Sculpture
A point of interest on the Winnipeg in the Limelight GPS-guided audio walking tour.
Press play & listen to the tour audio!
In the early years, the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre was housed in the Dominion Theatre. It was an old building which quickly proved unsuitable. Enter architect Robert Kirby and RMTC's artistic director Eddie Gilbert. The pair created a plan for a new theatre doing away with the imposing classical trappings of older theatres, remember the grand entrances of the Met and the Pantages, and instead created a casual space designed for mingling and discussions. The theatre interior incorporates natural elements, such as wood paneling and a water feature.
Presumably, you saw that the walls of the theatre are concrete - but the texture is different from the concrete of the sidewalk. What you see is actually the woodgrain from the wooden molds that were used. This new 789-seat theatre opened in 1970, and has since won awards for it's striking Brutalist design, which incorporates natural elements, such as wood paneling and a water feature.
Now if you take a look around, you’ll notice a couple... uhh.. rather stiff looking fellows near the theatre's entrance. go ahead and get a better look. This statue depicts the theater's founders. You will find this is a great spot for a photo-op. Give John Hirsch a high-five, or sit down and snuggle up with Tom Hendry. Don't be embarrassed, you'll be goofing off with Winnipeg theatre royalty. John Hirsch and Tom Hendry are the founders of the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre.
Hirsch, a Jewish-Hungarian refugee arrived in Winnipeg at 17 following World War 2. He got his start in puppetry but went on to work for Theatre 77. Hendry, meanwhile, was born and raised in Winnipeg and managed Winnipeg's Little Theatre in the 1950s - until it merged with Theatre 77 in 1958. Hirsch became MTC's first artistic director, while Hendry was the first business manager.
This statue, designed by Canadian sculpture Ruth Abernathy and named Imagine depicts John Hirsch gesturing boldly at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre as if pitching the idea to Tom Hendry, who is listening attentively and imagining the future possibilities.
They are commemorated in more ways than just this statue. The building you are standing in front of is the John Hirsch Mainstage, and you've already visited the Tom Hendry Warehouse on Lily Avenue - and in RMTC's enduring legacy in Canada.
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