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This article was published 11/10/2017 (253 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Robert Metcalfe, the artistic director of the Prairie Theatre Exchange (PTE), announced on Wednesday afternoon that the company’s 45th season will be his last.
Metcalfe, who is directing the PTE’s season opener, Gracie, starting this week, said he will step down at the end of the season, his 15th as artistic director.
"It’s just time," said Metcalfe, 59, during a media call for Gracie in the Portage Place theatre. "The theatre is in great shape."
Indeed, during Metcalfe’s tenure, he was able to announce a financial surplus under his direction for all 14 seasons. In addition, he established both the Carol Shields Festival of New Works and the PTE Playwrights Unit, which supports creating and producing new local works.
Next June, Metcalfe will conclude the third of three five-year contracts.
"I’ve been thinking for a number of years about when the best time would be," he said. "We’re in the midst right now of putting together a strategic plan for three years starting in June and we’re talking about where we need to go.
"And I thought: you know what this place needs? It actually needs fresh eyes in my position.
"I realized that was the best thing for the theatre company and it’s a good time for me too and it’s as simple as that," he said.
"We’ve built up an accumulated surplus and we’ve built up the money in the foundations," he says. "It’s not all me by any means, but in terms of what the board likes to see in the bottom line, we’ve been good.
"They’re happy with what’s been going on onstage, and are pleased with where the company is at," he says. "There’s a cohesiveness in the staff. They think it’s a great place to work and right now, everybody’s very happy to be here.
"It feels like great place to be and that’s a great situation to pass onto somebody," he says, adding: "I wish I had more drama to give you. But it truly is the right time for me and the right time for the company."
Metcalfe says he will move to Vancouver where he hopes to continue to work as a director on a freelance basis.
"I’m not retiring," he says. "I’m really happiest in the rehearsal hall, or when I’m working with a playwright. So to be able to get back to that as the primary thing that I’m doing would be great."
The move to Vancouver is also partly motivated by personal reasons, he explains.
"My wife Miriam (Smith) has been spending more and more time in Vancouver, because her father is there," he says. "He still goes to the gym every day, but he’s 87. She’s spending more time there so I’ll be spending the bulk of my time there.
"And I’ll be turning 60 next year, so that’s a kind of a round number to reinvent yourself."
Metcalfe was the longest-serving artistic director in PTE’s almost half-a-century of existence. He says a committee has already been assembled to choose his successor.
"The job posting will go up in the next couple of days and we’re hoping to have somebody announced by December so they can be planning some of next season and we can have a period of transition," he says, adding what he would personally like to see going forward.
"I would like to see the continuation of investment in local plays and playwrights," he says. "I’d like to see an investment in local directors and performers.
"We’ve done a lot of new plays since I’ve been here," he says. "And I’d like to see that continue."
"We are sorry to see Bob go, and wish him nothing but the best," said Dwayne Marling, the PTE’s board president in a prepared press release. "His leadership and artistic vision have been instrumental in making PTE the successful company it is today, and have placed us on solid ground as we step forward into our next phase of development."
In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.
Updated on Wednesday, October 11, 2017 at 7:49 PM CDT: Adds recent photo