About Playing After Dark
"The driving idea behind Playing After Dark is fairly simple: Give people a great show at a great price, that leaves them feeling better than they did when they came in. From start to finish, page to stage, that's our mission. Every time. Every show." - Todd McGinnis (P.A.D. Artistic Director & Playwright)
In the beginning
Playing After Dark Ltd. is a theatre production company and was founded in the fall of 2000 with a mandate to stage new, original, highly entertaining, comedic works, suitable for a general audience.
Playing After Dark Ltd. is the brainchild of Toronto-native actor/producer/playwright Todd McGinnis, and was founded on the more than 25 years of writing, performance, production and directorial expertise that he brings to his work.
But Playing After Dark is not simply the result of one man's vision. It would not exist at all without the considerable performance, production and administrative drive of Co-Founder Tracy Rowland.
The husband-and-wife team first met through their love of theatre and decided to keep things local when they founded Playing After Dark Ltd. And they have done so, staging eight runs of five all-new works in their first few years... and that is in addition to several other works by McGinnis written and staged during the same time period.
The question they are often asked though is... "Why don't Playing After Dark's shows tour?"
Rowland explains: "When you tour a different set of economics comes into play. There are companies that do only that. But generally, they are touring someone else's work and they have to tour the same show for a long time in order to establish a reputation and become a draw. Their only alternative is to do something known and established, (if you're doing comedy) it'll be a Ray Cooney, Ackborn, Foster or a Simon. But as brilliant as many of those scripts are, most have been around anywhere from fifteen to forty years and are becoming painfully dated. Where are the next generation of great comedies going to come from?"
"Hopefully, that's where we come in. But as a new company, staging only new works, we basically had two options at the outset," says Rowland. "One: we could create a single production and tour it for a couple of years or... Two: we could stage each show in short, premiere engagements, exclusive to a local audience and then move on to the next show. We decided on the latter option."
A major factor contributing to that decision had to do with "...the other reason the company was formed," says McGinnis, "which is a bit more personal. As both a writer and producer, I enjoy the entire production cycle. From that first moment, in front of a blank page, when an idea catches hold, to that tremendous feeling of accomplishment when the curtain falls on the final night, I love the whole process. But I tend to be a bit restless creatively. By the time one goal has been reached, I'm already moving on to three more!"
So given the choice between touring a single show for a long time or producing more new shows more frequently, the choice was clear: Playing After Dark decided to stay local and develop one great show after another.
"We very much enjoyed making our shows an exclusively local event," says Rowland, "and are proud of the fan-base we have built over time. As a production company, we have established a great reputation for ourselves by consistently staging high-calibre performances of hilariously funny, occasionally moving, and always entertaining scripts. We have been privileged to work with many of the best actors currently working in the G.T.A. and hearing the audiences laughing and quoting their favourite lines on the way out."
Say McGinnis "The driving idea behind Playing After Dark is fairly simple: Give people a great show at a great price, that leaves them feeling better than they did when they came in. From start to finish, page to stage, that's our mission. Every time. Every show." Rowland adds, "And with every production we finish, there's a brand new play, hilarious, heartwarming, moving, that has come into being. Each play has been polished and then performed for an audience and is just waiting for the next company to stage it and bring it to life again for new audiences. We've already seen that happen with Knave of Hearts and Thunderbolts and Dunderheads. And it's an incredible feeling."
What happened next?
More productions. More incredible hits. "Gone Fishin'", a hilarious and heartwarming comedy about three estranged brothers trapped in a fishing boat, which garnered laughter, tears and raves from audiences and became the inspiration for and the opening show of the 2004 NewWorks Festival.
"Point of Viewing" was an equal smash, with more laughter conterpointing moving drama and monologues for women from this play have become favourites with English-speaking actresses around the world from Seattle to Syndey, Texas to Toronto and London to... well you get the idea. After "Point of Viewing" Playing After Dark returned with "Gone Fishin'" to open the NewWorks Festival.
This was followed almost immediately by debut of a new play resulting from the team-up of McGinnis and "A Year in the Death of Eddie Jester" author T. Gregory Argall. The pairing was an inspired one and the result was the unbelievably hilarious "Self-Help for Dummies", an instant smash that was immediately selected to open the 2005 NewWorks Festival.
But Playing After Dark had another play to do first. In the spring of 2005, an all-new production of McGinnis's brilliant farcical take on mythological office politics "Thunderbolts and Dunderheads" was staged to still more rave responses, topping even the success of the debut production.
Throughout this whole time, McGinnis and Rowland continued their busy acting careers with increasing work in film and television and McGinnis also somehow found time to pen several commissioned scripts including two complete Renaissance Festival days (roughly a half dozen scripts each for two different festivals), the alternately hilarious and horrifying horror/comedy/drama "Stage Fright" (a.k.a. "LAUGH?" I Thought I'd DIE!) and the truly inspired and utterly chilling psychological 1-Act thriller "Trammel the Cull".
After a while, with increasing requests for copies of McGinnis's scripts and inquiries about productions from amateur and professional companies, Playing After Dark took some time out to make McGinnis's works available in book form, becoming publisher for works from his catalogue. Sales started strong and have continued to grow each year with the addition of more plays from McGinnis's catalogue. "Point of Viewing" and "Thunderbolts and Dunderheads" continue to be two favourites as word about the incredible comedic opportunities given to the women for a change, continues to spread.
"Trammel the Cull" was adapted to a feature-length screenplay and is currently enjoying industry interest thanks to strong placings in the Scriptapalooza Worldwide Screenplay Competition and the WildSound Feature Screenplay Competition. All this has giving Playing After Dark the confidence to take on their next challenge... motion picture production and there's still more theatre to come.
So stayed tuned... the show's just getting started!