ALAN EDWARDS AM MBE (17 January 1925 – 14 January 2003) Theatre Director Actor Queensland Theatre Company Brisbane

Alan Edwards AM MBE

Remembering the extraordinary life of an extraordinary man.

Alan EdwardsBritish born Alan Edmund William Edwards AM MBE (17 January 1925 – 14 January 2003) was an actor, teacher and founding Artistic Director of the Queensland Theatre Company in Brisbane.

At an early age Alan had decided to make the theatre his profession, won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London graduating in 1944 with a RADA Diploma in Acting.

logo royal warwickshire regimentHowever, World War II intervened during which he joined the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and rose to the rank of Captain. During his service in Kenya he was in charge of the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) established by the British War Office, in Nairobi.

After the war, he won a scholarship to the Old Vic Theatre School, The Cut, London, After graduating he joined The Young Vic Company, as an offshoot of the Old Vic – the first residence of the Royal National Theatre under Laurence Olivier. ‘Here‘, Olivier said, ‘we think to develop plays for young audiences, an experimental workshop for authors, actors and producers.’

Alan then worked in various repertory theatres in England and Scotland before joining the Birmingham Repertory Theatres in 1954 under Sir Barry Jackson, where he stayed for two years.

Alan Edwards in The Adventures of Robin Hood 1955 FilmIn 1956, Alan left Birmingham to appear for the BBC in a series of television productions and for the next eight years he worked mainly in London in film, theatre and radio. In British film and TV, he earned 53 credits, notably for THE CHILDREN OF THE NEW FOREST (1955), THE BLACK ARROW (1951) and THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1955).

He also directed several plays for various Repertory Theatres. During this time he began his teaching career at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and he also taught at the Central School of Speech and Drama, the Rose Bruford College and Toynbee Hall. In 1962 he went into Management and co-founded TEAMWORK, presenting revues in London, Oxford and ‘on the fringe’ at the Edinburgh International Festival in 1963.

Alan was brought to Australia in 1964 to take up an appointment as Tutor in Acting at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in Sydney. On arrival in Australia, Alan combined his teaching duties with as much involvement with professional theatre as possible. He appeared for the Old Tote Theatre many times, at the Theatre Royal, Hobart and played a number of major roles for ABC Television and Radio and for Commercial TV and Radio.

A recruitment campaign by the Queensland Theatre Company received a total 61 applicants scattered worldwide for the post of Artistic Director. On July 15, 1969, Alan flew to Brisbane for the interview. While awaiting his return flight at the airport, he received a page to take a phone call, where the QTC board chairman, Sir David Muir CMG, told him he got the job.

logo australia theatre QTCHe became the Founding Artistic Director of the Queensland Theatre Company, taking up his position in November 1969 at the S.G.I.O. Theatre in Brisbane.

I’ll never forget Monday, 17th November, 1969 when I walked into the S.G.I.O. Theatre and was shown into an office that contained a table, a chair and an internal telephone. Around me were 3 other empty offices which were, I was told, the rest of the Q.T.C. administration offices. I remember my first decision was to go out and buy typing paper, carbon, flimsies, pencils, rubbers, paper clips, the usual paraphernalia of an office. I had my own portable typewriter.— Alan Edwards

Alan immediately built up a highly efficient and well integrated company, utilizing his artistic and administrative ability, and officially opened the first fully professional production directed by Alan of the world premiere of the musical A RUM DO! on April 10, 1970, coinciding that day with the Royal Assent given to the Act of Parliament, which incorporated the company. This was followed just 3 days later with a Royal Performance, on April 13 in the presence of Her Majesty, Queensland Elizabeth II, HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, and HRH the Princess Anne.

      1. In his own words: - Alan Edwards describing getting the job and the early years

Alan became a major contributor to the artistic life throughout Queensland. His numerous productions and performances for Queensland Theatre Company have made him one of the best known and respected identities of the Australian stage.

During his 19 years at the QTC, Alan won acclaim not only for his many notable productions he directed, but also was acclaimed for his performances in such roles as Salieri in AMADEUS, The Psychiatrist in EQUUS, Professor Higgins in PYGMALION, Dr Alfred Feldman in DUET FOR ONE, Cicero in JULIUS CAESAR, Sir Peter Teazle in THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL, Judge Don Gusman in THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO, Richard Noakes in ARCADIA and The Chorus in HENRY V, which he also directed.

Other roles included Baptista in THE TAMING OF THE SHREW and Mr Diagilsmith in TIGHTROPE both for The Queensland Ballet. Alan also appeared in a variety of roles with companies including Sydney Theatre Company, Northside Theatre Company, Phillip Street Productions, La Boite Theatre, The House is Live, Opera Queensland, Queensland Performing Arts Trust and Seymour Productions.

Midsummer Nights Dream QTC Brisbane Photo Company WWW 1Considered by many as his theatrical triumph at QTC, was his open-air presentation of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM in Albert Park, staged as part of the Warana Festival celebrations in 1979. The project had long been one of Alans’ cherished dreams, and took years of his persistence, due to its size and complexity to bring it to life. It involved the creation of a complete theatre where none existed, and bringing together local talent with multiple companies: The Queensland Theatre Company, Queensland Ballet Company, Queensland Opera Company, Queensland Theatre Orchestra and the Australian Youth Ballet.  The success of the production, coupled with the public reaction, established a more permanent venue and annual production in Albert Park.

Some of Alan’s other favorite shows he directed for the Queensland Theatre Company included the musicals ANNIE, HELLO, DOLLY!, and the plays BLITHE SPIRIT, LONG DAYS JOURNEY INTO NIGHT and CARAVAN for the New England Theatre Company.

After serving for 19 years he resigned as Artistic Director from the Queensland Theatre Company in 1988.

He then pursued a freelance career as a director, actor and teacher in both opera and theatre.

During rehearsals for THE TRAGEDY OF KING RICHARD THE SECOND in September 2001, Alan made the painful decision to permanently retire from acting.

  • From 1978 – 1983 Alan was a member of the Theatre Board of the Australia Council. He was Chairman of the Steering Committee which brought into being the Confederation of Australian Performing Arts (CAPPA) and later served as its Vice-Chairman.
  • He was a board member of the Queensland Performing Arts Trust for 10 years.
  • From 1975 – 1994 Alan was the inaugural President of the Actors’ & Entertainers’ Benevolent Fund (Qld) Inc.
  • He was a Patron of the Queensland Theatre of the Deaf.
  • He was a Member of the Immigration Review Panel (Queensland).
  • He was a Justice of the Peace.
  • In 1982 he was a recipient of the Advance Australia Award for his contribution to Theatre.
  • London Gazette Alan Edwards MBE 1982In 1983, Alan was made a Member of the British Empire (MBE) by Her Majesty the Queen for his valuable contribution to the advancement of Queensland’s cultural life.
  • Also in 1983 he was a finalist in the Queenslander of the Year Award.
  • In 1984 he became an Australian Citizen.
  • In 1990 he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the Australia Day Honours List in recognition of service to the performing arts.
  • In 1994 he was the recipient of a Brisbane Theatre Critic’s Matilda Award for Services to the Queensland Theatre industry.
  • In 1997 he received The Glugs of Gosh Award for Excellence in Theatre.
  • In 1998, after recommendations by Kate Foy and David Logan, Alan was awarded a Doctorate of Letters (honoris causa) by the University of Southern Queensland.

On January 14, 2003, Alan Edwards passed away from cancer.

Alan’s contribution and legacy to the performing arts of the Commonwealth is astonishing in his vast array of character portrayals, his creative discipline as director, his expertise in uniting a company of highly skilled people and his much sought after participation with a diverse range of other 1st class companies throughout Australia.

Alan Edwards credits on ausstageHis credits on AusStage are testament to this:
https://www.ausstage.edu.au/pages/contributor/565
Alan Edwards credits on THEATRICALIATheatricalia credits (partial) for English theatre:
https://theatricalia.com/person/t5v/alan-edwards
Alan Edwards credits on imdbIMDB credits for Global film & TV:
https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0249787/
Alan Edwards credits on British Film Institute BFIBritish Film Institute credits for his English film & TV:
https://www2.bfi.org.uk/films-tv-people/4ce2bab0a23d7
Member of the Order of AustraliaAustralia Day 1990 Honours List:
Australian Honours #870368

There’s a train of thought that believes Queensland has little cultural life of any consequence. It’s as widespread as it erroneous, and we believe we have done much to dispel it. We rate this as one of our proudest achievements. — Alan Edwards circa 1980.

logo ACTORS ENTERTAINERS BENEVOLENT FUND OF QUEENSLAND

Alan Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award

The Actors’ & Entertainers’ Benevolent Fund of Queensland presents The Alan Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Performing Arts in Queensland annually to someone who has contributed a great deal to the industry above and beyond the call of duty. Honouring the memory of Founding President Alan Edwards AM MBE JP, this award is presented at a special morning tea attended by friends and industry colleagues.

For more information:
https://abfqld.com.au/awards/

logo UniSQ Alan Edwards Memorial Scholarship

Alan Edwards Memorial Scholarship

The University of Southern Queensland offers the Alan Edwards Memorial Scholarship to support a student continuing their studies in the Bachelor of Creative Arts (Theatre).

For more information:
https://www.unisq.edu.au/scholarships/alan-edwards-memorial

Alan Edwards Headshot Smile 1Alan Edwards 1985 Subscription photo for QTCAlan Edwards Headshot TA 10th AnniversaryAlan Edwards Headshot QLD Men of AchievementAlan Edwards Headshot 10th AnniversaryAlan Edwards Headshot Theatre AustraliaAlan Edwards Headshot TrustAlan Edwards Headshot QLD Ballet Alan Edwards Headshot WhiteAlan Edwards Headshot GGAlan Edwards Headshot Sketch Alan Edwards with Script 1ALAN EDWARDS AM MBE Artist Lesley Shelley Oil on Linen 92 H x 122cm W Alan Edwards in The Adventures of Robin Hood 1955 Film Alan Edwards in Cover Girl Killer 1959 Film 02 Alan Edwards in Cover Girl Killer 1959 Film 01 Alan Edwards seated on right seecond from far end and the Queensland Theatre Company QTC Board 1978 Alan Edwards and his QTC Group Photo c 1975 Alan Edwards with HM The Queen HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and HRH The Princess Anne came to see 22A RUM DO22 on April 13th 1970 Alan Edwards with HM The Queen at A RUM DO 1970 QTC Alan Edwards Tony Thurbon in Hadrian VII 1971 QTC Alan Edwards in Hadrian VII 1971 QTC 2 Alan Edwards in Hadrian VII 1971 QTC Alan Edwards in Pygmalion 1973 QTC Alan Edwards Arthur Frame Hazel Howson Greg Gesch in Pygmalion 1973 QTC Alan Edwards in Savages QTC Alan Edwards teaching at NIDAJPG Alan Edwards in Present Laughter 1974 QTC Alan Edwards DOUGLAS HEDGE in Present Laughter 1974 Alan Edwards and cast of The Imaginary Invalid QTC Alan Edwards and Olmia Brown in The Ruling Class 1972 QTC Alan Edwards in Deathtrap 1979 QTC Alan Edwards Tony Sheldon in Deathtrap 1979 QTC 1 Alan Edwards Tony Sheldon in Deathtrap 1979 QTC 2 Alan Murray and Joe at a company Christmas party in the 70s at Newstead House. Alan Edwards and Bille Brown a shot I must have taken in the 70s. His Royal Highness Prince Phillip with The Tempest 1982 Alan Edwards Amanda Muggleton in DUET FOR ONE 1984 QTC Jonathan Hardy Alan Edwards fighting Veronica Neave Darryl Hukins in Twelfth Night 1992 Alan Edwards Rehearsing SGIO Theatre Tour advertisement with Peter Noble John Balyliss Eugene Gilfedder Carol Burns Hugh Monroe Sue Dwyer Alan Edwards Darien Sticklen Karen Crone Bille Brown Kevin Hides Geoff Metcalf

RELATED LINKS

Queensland Theatre Company
Queensland Theatre Company: QTC Golden Years 1970 1988

Alan Edwards AM MBE
ALAN EDWARDS

QTC Hall of Fame
Queensland Theatre Company QTC Who's Who Hall of Fame Golden Years 1970's & 1980s

S.G.I.O. Theatre
SGIO Theatre (Brisbane, QLD)

Brisbane Theatre History
Brisbane Theatre History

Australian Theatre Companies
Australian Theatre Companies

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