“A thoroughly engrossing, fully realized drama brought to life by an ensemble of actors who never miss a beat,”1 wrote the New York Times of St. John Ervine’s JOHN FERGUSON in its first appearance on the New York stage since 1919.

Originally scheduled for just five performances, the New York premiere of the play ran instead for 130, saving the legendary Theatre Guild from bankruptcy and confounding the pessimists who believed that theatergoers had no appetite for serious drama. Set in a rundown farmhouse, JOHN FERGUSON charts a devastating chain of events that once unleashed on a humble man’s family, test his faith to its limits.

“JOHN FERGUSON is perhaps the most potent and compelling new production of the current theatre season,”2 hailed nytheatre.com. Variety echoed this praise: “In the hands of the Mint Theater Company, JOHN FERGUSON remains insightful and engrossing.”3

John St. Greer Ervine was born in 1883 in Ballymacarrett, a suburb of Belfast.  He developed an early interest in theatre despite the objections of his family.

In 1900, Ervine moved to London, where he found work as an insurance clerk.  He joined the Fabian Society where George Bernard Shaw encouraged him to write;  he penned novels and short stories, but it would be his plays that would bring him the most fame.

Critics heralded Ervine’s frank realism and emotional honesty, a style which contrasted with the dreamlike symbolism many associated with Irish drama.

In 1915, Ervine returned to Dublin to manage the Abbey Theatre, which was the center of new Irish drama.  Ervine’s indifference to the burgeoning Irish Renaissance offended the company and he lasted only eight months.  During his brief tenure there he produced several of his own plays, including JOHN FERGUSON (1915), later regarded as his masterpiece.

Ervine had hoped JOHN FERGUSON would transfer to London, but the escalation of World War postponed his dream. Disappointed, Ervine decided to enlist.  A battle at Nieppe left him so badly wounded that his right leg was amputated.

After the war, Ervine attacked theatre managers for spoon-feeding audiences “decadent” frivolity.  In his new role as drama critic for the London Observer, he campaigned for more “intelligent and sincere drama,” arguing that postwar audiences sought genuine sentiment which mirrored their own experience.  He was vindicated by the unexpected success of JOHN FERGUSON in New York.

Ervine had become a trans-Atlantic phenomenon.  He continued his success as a playwright, scoring several West End hits throughout the 1920s and 1930s. In 1937, Ervine was made President of the League of British Dramatists.

In his the final years, he received many honors, including membership in the Irish Academy.  After his wife’s death, Ervine retired to a Sussex nursing home.  He died in 1971.


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  • Sarah Ferguson Joyce Cohen
  • John Ferguson Robertson Carricart
  • Hannah Ferguson Marion Wood
  • James Caesar Mark Saturno
  • Henry Witherow Greg Thorton / Jay Patterson
  • “Clutie” John McGrath John Keating
  • Andrew Ferguson Justin Schultz
  • Sam Mawhinney, Sergeant Kernighan
    Terrence Markovich
  • Constable Adam Branson


  • Set Design Bill Clarke
  • Costume Design Mattie Ullrich
  • Lighting Design Jeff Nellis
  • Sound Design Lindsay Jones
  • Properties Design Judi Guralnick
  • Dialects and Dramaturgy Amy Stoller
  • Casting
    Stuart Howard, Amy Schecter & Paul Hardt
  • Production Stage Manager Heather Prince
  • Assistant Stage Manager Kimberly Ann McCann
  • Press Representative David Gersten & Associates
  • Graphics Hey Jude Design, Inc.


Harrington has written extensively on Irish literature and culture, including The Irish Play on the New York Stage (1997). He edited W. W. Norton’s anthology Modern Irish Drama (1991). Other works include The Life of the Neighborhood Playhouse on Grand Street, and edited the publication, Irish Theater in America.


Moore is the Artistic Director of New York’s own Irish Repertory Theatre. Recognized with a special Drama Desk Award for “Excellence in Presenting Distinguished Irish Drama,” and the Lucille Lortel Award for “Outstanding Body of Work,” the Irish Repertory Theatre has celebrated the very best in Irish theatre for eighteen years.