Midnight Baby tells the story of a man obsessed with planning and how this obsession has impacted his relationships. He shares stories of his experiences floundering as a sentimental junior high dweeb, as an awkward adolescent incapable of deviating from routine, and as an adult faced with a poor self-image and the dietary habits of a raccoon. In exploring his anxieties, shame, and embarrassment, Midnight Baby strives to answer the question 'how can you be enough for another person?'
This one-person comedy is written and performed by Island born storyteller Justin Shaw. Shaw is better known to Island audiences from his work with Popalopalots Live Improv Comedy, Lorne Elliot's Culture Shock (Harmony House Theatre) and the classic Canadian drama Salt-Water Moon (The Guild 2019 Summer Festival). His debut solo show The Wrestling Play earned the Patron's Pick distinction at the 2017 Island Fringe Festival and was later presented at Edmonton's Nextfest Arts & Culture Festival. As a comedian, Shaw has performed across Canada and opened for the likes of Scott Faulconbridge, Elvira Kurt, and the late great Mike MacDonald. He is a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada (Acting 2017) and loves making people laugh.
This play is directed by Desert Island Theatre Company's Artistic Director Benton Hartley. 'This project checks so many boxes for me,' says Hartley. 'It's hilarious, it's heartfelt, and it affords me the opportunity to work with my immensely talented best friend on a show he's been working on for a very long time. It's a humbling opportunity, and an honour in the purest sense of the word.'
Midnight Baby has benefitted from support from a number of different sources. The original inception of the piece began in March 2020 with the support The Guild’s (Charlottetown, PEI) Writer In Residence, Rob MacDonald. Initially, this piece began as a collection of comedic stories (akin to standup comedy) but early in the process, MacDonald and Shaw discovered an underlying message of the piece that is deeply personal. Over the course of six months, several drafts were submitted to MacDonald to review, and with each passing phase of development, they got closer and closer to unearthing the main premise of the piece.
In Summer 2020, Shaw became a member of Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre (PARC,) and was fortunate enough to have a dramaturge home-delivery with Brian Drader, the Executive Director of the Manitoba Association of Playwrights. Drader was the head of the Playwrighting Program at the National Theatre School of Canada while Shaw was studying in the Acting program, and he knew Shaw’s interests in solo theatre based on my work in Wrench Man (dir. Carly Chamberlain, pw. Gary Mok). He and Shaw shared a very engaged work session where the pair discovered what is a clearer premise of the overall piece that would give way to the latest draft.
Since then, Shaw has had the pleasure of discussing the piece with other sources, including writer and musician Dave Bidini (West End Phoenix, The Rheostatics) and playwright Carmen Aguirre (Anywhere But Here, Refugee Hotel.) These discussions gave way to a clearer understanding of the piece’s theme and counter theme, while elements of the comedy have been repurposed and road-tested as standup comedy around Ontario.