PETER COLLEY Playwright-Screenwriter


eter Colley was one of Canada’s most successful playwrights even before he wrote “I’ll Be Back Before Midnight!”. He had been one of the youngest playwrights ever produced at the prestigious National Arts Centre in the nation’s capital, Ottawa, with his record-breaking play “The Donnellys”, and while still in his early twenties he was the resident playwright for three years at Canada’s largest regional theatre - The Grand Theatre in London, Ontario.  But until “Midnight” he had never written a thriller before.

When “I’ll Be Back Before Midnight!” premiered at the Blyth Festival Theatre (one of Canada’s most widely-praised producers of new plays, including several Governor-General Awards) it created a sensation. The reviews were unanimous raves, and within two days the entire run was sold out.  Requests flooded in from other professional theatres all across the country wishing to produce the play.

As the play was seen in theatres like the Vancouver Playhouse (where it was extended for hundreds of performances and was nominated for four Jessie Awards including Best Production), and Toronto’s Tarragon and Saint Lawrence theatres, it was heralded by critics and audiences alike as the finest stage thriller that Canada had ever produced.  It did not take long for box office records to be broken across the country.  What was remarkable was that it consistently out-sold more famous thrillers such as “Deathtrap” and “Wait Until Dark”.  Audiences made it clear they preferred “Midnight’s” combination of humour, thrills, psychological complexity, and the “funniest farmer since Pa Kettle”.

The reputation of the play quickly spread to other countries, and Britain’s Salisbury Playhouse produced the British premiere, and later “Midnight” was toured all across Britain by The Century Theatre and by Ian Dickens Productions, breaking that companies box office records.

The American professional premiere was performed at the historic Theatre-By-The-Sea in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and it ran for six months at New York’s Village Performers Theatre.  It has subsequently been produced at regional theatres all across America including The American Heartland Theatre in Kansas City, Pittsburgh’s City Theatre, The Spokane Civic, and the historic Totem Pole Playhouse in Pennsylvania.

Many other countries followed. The English Theatre of Hamburg premiered the play in Germany, Theatre Ghione produced the play in Rome, Italy in 1996 after getting rave reviews at the Todi Arts Festival in 1995.  It played in Zagreb throughout the Balkan war - starting its run in Yugoslavia and ending it in Croatia as national boundaries changed during the conflict. It received an innovative all-black production in Barbados, changing the setting to an old sugar plantation, and has been translated into many languages, including sign-language for the deaf.  “Midnight” has now been produced in 29 countries, 48 of the 50 states in the U.S., and every province and territory in Canada. It received a production at Britain’s historic Theatre Royal, Windsor, starring Dennis Waterman, star of the British TV series “Minder” and “The Sweeney”. The English Theatre of Hamburg revived their production to lead off their 25th anniversary season in 2001.  In 2003 the historic Oldham Coliseum Theatre (near Manchester) produced a hit version of the play which garnered many rave reviews. For details: click here

A film version was produced in Hollywood starring Ned Beatty, Robert Carradine, Heather Locklear, Emma Samms and Susannah York.  Distributed by Prism Entertainment domestically / C.I.C. (Paramount/ Universal) foreign.  It premiered on SHOWTIME, and played on The Movie Channel / E! Entertainment Channel / U.S.A. Channel. For details: click here.

In 2004 and 2005 there were record-breaking UK Tours.  Venues included: Theatre Royal Winchester, The Capitol Theatre Horsham, Hull New Theatre, Theatre Royal Margate, The Darlington Civic, The Grand Theatre Swansea, The Lighthouse Theatre at Poole, Devonshire Park Eastbourne.  Ian Dickens Productions, the largest UK producer of touring plays (300+ productions), announced that the 2005 tour broke the company's box office records.  The world famous Cambridge Footlights (Monty Python, Beyond The Fringe, Borat) also recently produced I'LL BE BACK BEFORE MIDNIGHT in 2007.  For details click here.

Recent productions also include Denmark (Tilbag Før Midnat), a Portuguese translation called "Voltarei Antes Da Meia-Noite" by Teatroesfera, Lisbon, Portugal, a Dutch translation called "Voor Middernacht Ben Ik Terug!" and a German translation titled "Gänsehaut".  In 2011 it played at Teatro Erba in Turin, Italy, and in 2011 and in 2015 at the Shanghai Modern Theatre in Shanghai, and also in Xi'an China.  In 2015 there was a production in Malta, making it the 30th country to produce the play.  

Ill Be Back Before Midnight!” has been published in the U.S. jointly by Samuel French Inc. (New York) and Baker’s Plays of Boston (now merged), and in a British version by Samuel French Ltd. of London.


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