Edgar Metcalfe

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Edgar Metcalfe
Born (1933-09-18)18 September 1933
Blackpool, Lancashire, England
Died 13 September 2012(2012-09-13) (aged 78)
Menora, Western Australia
Occupation Actor, director, author
Years active 1951–2012

Edgar Metcalfe AM (18 September 1933 – 13 September 2012) was an English actor, director and author, who widely contributed to theatre in Perth, Western Australia.

Personal life

Edgar Metcalfe was born in 1933 in Burnley, Lancashire, United Kingdom.[1] Edgar's father died before he was born and his mother before he was one year old. His aunt and uncle adopted him and he went to live on a farm in Lancashire. When Metcalfe was 10, his adoptive parents moved to the seaside town of Blackpool, where he gained a scholarship to the Arnold House School, a local boys' grammar school.[2]

In 2010, Metcalfe returned to Blackpool, intending to retire there, but he soon returned to Perth, finding himself somewhat disillusioned with the differences between what he remembered and what he found.[3] He died from liver cancer in Perth, WA, on 13 September 2012.



On leaving school, rather than go to drama school, Metcalfe went straight into acting in the British provincial repertory theatre system, which saw him work in troupes of actors touring the country – a training ground that offered the young actor a variety of plays in which to develop his talents.[2]

As an actor, Edgar Metcalfe has played many roles including Shakespearean roles as Iago, Macbeth, Puck, Prospero, Caliban and Claudius along with leading roles in "Private Lives", "Charley's Aunt", "The Caine Mutiny Court Martial", "Quartet" and "Fagin and Daddy Warbucks". He also has a history of playing pantomime dames.[4]

In 2008, he portrayed the Queen Mother in Two Old Queens by John Senczuk at the Riverside Theatre in Parramatta[4]


In 1963 at the age of 29, after 12 years working in English repertory, Metcalfe moved to Perth, Western Australia, to take up the position of artistic director of the National Theatre Company of WA, at the Playhouse Theatre. He has been quoted as saying this was because he "thought the climate would be better for his asthma".[2][5][6]

Whilst working as the artistic director for the National, Metcalfe coordinated a co-production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? between the National Theatre Inc. and the University of Western Australia at the Dolphin Theatre.[7]

Subsequently, he was artistic director at the Hole-in-the-Wall Theatre in Leederville (successfully guiding the company through a fiscally difficult time),[6] associate director at the Melbourne Theatre Company and frequently worked with the Effie Crump Theatre in Northbridge. Whilst he was associate director at Melbourne Theatre Company, he won the Melbourne Critics' Award for his production of "The Devils" and "What the Butler Saw."

Metcalfe also directed four national tours in Australia: "Doctor in Love" and "Night Mother" with Jill Perryman and June Salter; and "The Nerd" and "Corpse" with the late Gordon Chater.[5]


As an author, Metcalfe's writing includes six plays, a collection of short stories set in the Perth hills, and three books, the most recent being a novel based on his play Alleycat Alice and Friends.[2]


Metcalfe was named WA Citizen of the Year in 1976 for service to the performing arts. He was awarded the A.M. (Member of the Order of Australia) in the 1978 Queen's Birthday Honours for his services to the performing arts. In 2004 he was awarded an Honours Citation during the centenary celebrations for His Majesty's Theatre. In 2011 the renovated IMAX theatre in Perth was named the Metcalfe Playhouse, to honour the long-time artistic director at the Playhouse Theatre who did so much to secure the professional theatre industry in Perth. At the time, Metcalfe said it was a great compliment, "I'm particularly pleased that it's called the Metcalfe Playhouse because, of course, the Playhouse is where I began my Western Australian career in 1963...a long time ago!"[3][8][9][10]


Metcalfe died on 13 September 2012, after a short battle with liver cancer in Menora, Western Australia. He was less than a week from his 79th birthday.[9]



Year Title Role Notes
1974 Percy's Progress London Newsman US Title: It's Not the Size That Counts
1975 Plugg Claude Mashall-Enright
1988 Dadah Is Death Florid Businessman[11] Television Movie (based on the executions of Kevin Barlow and Brian Chambers)
1988 A Cry in the Dark Dr. Brown
1993 Ship to Shore Senator Hogg TV Series – 1 episode – "Greed Rules, OK?"
1998 Minty Roy the Director TV Series – 1 episode – "All the World's a Stage"
2007 The Sleepover Club Mr. Garcia TV Series – 1 episode – "Never Too Old"


Year Title Notes
1975 The Olive Tree Australian Film – starring John Adam and Alan Cassell



  1. ^ Birth register entry at FreeBMD. Retrieved 24 May 2013
  2. ^ a b c d Ron Banks, "Edgar's packing up and going home", The West Australian – Arts, 23 June 2010
  3. ^ a b Stephen Bevis, "Old stager gives name to new playhouse", The West Australian – Arts, 22 March 2011
  4. ^ a b Emily Dunn and Elicia Murray, "Queen mum spills the beans", Sydney Morning Herald, 14 February 2008
  5. ^ a b Janine McDonald, "Metcalfe bids 'friendly' farewell", UWA News, 11 June 2010
  6. ^ a b Milne, Geoffrey. Theatre Australia (un)limited: Australian theatre since the 1950s Australian Playwrights, 2004
  7. ^ "Audio Interview with Edgar Metcalfe"
  8. ^ Claire Nichols, "2012 a mixed year for WA arts", ABC News
  9. ^ a b ABC News, "Prominent theatre actor Edgar Metcalfe dies", "ABC News", 13 September 2012
  10. ^ "Edgar Metcalf – IMDB", IMDB
  11. ^ "TCM – Dadah Is Death"[permanent dead link]
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