John Ahart is now in his fourth decade in the American Theatre as director, playwright, designer, teacher, and writer. At the University of Illinois he supervised the graduate directors workshop and later headed the MFA directing program for much of his 32-year tenure, directing a wide range of major works at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.
His original production, Head of State, was performed at the Kennedy Center as part of the ACTF festival and led to the creation of a new theatre company which the press came to call a national treasure. He was founding and artistic director of that company, The Great American People Show, performing at New Salem, Illinois, for twenty years beginning in the Bicentennial year, 1976. Under his direction, GAPS was the first theatre to win the Illinois Governors Arts Award, presenting more than 1,000 performances of original works drawn from American history. It became Illinois Official theatre of Lincoln and the American Experience and was a model for projects developed by the Illinois Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities
Since his retirement, John resides in Southern California where he devotes his time to writing. The Director’s Eye has become a popular directing text, called by one critic, [one of the two] finest books ever written about the art of directing. A Different Direction brings together Ahart’s insight gained through four decades of practical experience creating original works, directing theatre classics from Brecht to Beckett to Shakespeare, using and developing non-traditional theatre spaces, and building and sustaining a theatre company that gave voice to Americans spanning 160 years of our history.
Ahart holds a B.A. Marietta College, M.A. University of Illinois, and Ph.D. University of Minnesota.