Late Company: A story about people who came together


Attempting to find closure, especially after the loss of a family member, is one of the hardest things a family will have to go through, however, it is crucial in order to move forward. While attempting to gain their own closure, Debora and Michael make an unexpected choice when they invite over certain guests for dinner after the loss of their son, Joel. Healing is a long, complicated, and messy process, but in inviting guests over during this vulnerable time, Debora and Michael have made the first steps towards it. What results is a mix of forgiveness, revenge, accountability, and acceptance set in a dining room. This is the story of Late Company written by award-winning author and playwright Jordan Tannahill.  

The production of Late Company is closer to home than you think. The artistic director and one of the actors for the play, Matt White, is an instructor at UW. He’s known for teaching intro to public speaking and interpersonal communication. Additionally, in his earlier career, he taught in the UW drama department. He brings 20 years of experience and enthusiasm to the play.  

“[O]ur director Kwaku [Okyere] is fantastic… Kwaku has cracked open with our set designer Jung A, and sort of bringing the story away from the dining room in a lot of places,” White said. When speaking to him, I got to know a lot about the people behind the play as White praised each one for their expertise. Each person brought together was able to make for a performance that White was very excited for. “Working with some terrific [people], Ryan Hollyman from Toronto, Tanisha Taitt who plays my wife, she’s amazing and she runs a company in Toronto called Cahoots Theatre. Also, Dieter Lische-Parkes is playing my son and he’s the bully, but he recently graduated from George Brown. So, it’s great to have these multi-generations,” he said. “Kwaku just finished assistant directing Richard II at Stratford. He’s like [an] emerging, established, award winning… Janice Lee, who was a Kitchener artist for a long time, she’s back to doing sound design for us, she brings her wonderful energy into the room when she’s there.” 

White spoke at length about the people he was able to work with, even continuing to praise them when asked about his favourite part of Late Company, “They’re a beautiful group of human beings to be making art with. The offers, the generosity of spirit, the generosity of heart, the humour that they bring into the room, the leadership Kwaku, the team has just been so… and our design team has just been so supportive.”  

When thinking about plays, we often speak at length about the characters and story but sometimes forget about the people behind it who put it together. To make Late Company a production that they could be proud of, the team collectively put in a great amount of effort and consideration for each aspect of the performance. What White said was giving credit to the brilliant minds behind Late Company as the play would not be possible without them.  

Late Company presents an interesting underlying theme to the story that White brought to my attention, “Kwaku talks a lot about in his director notes, this idea of inheritance of what we pass down from generation to generation… My character very much talks about you know, my father and what my father has given to me and what I’ve bestowed to my son. … It’s challenging because you have these grown ups that are doing their best, but sometimes their best isn’t necessarily what’s best.” 

Generations of people will come together to teach one another about the things they’ve learned to pass them on and push their family on to what they believe to be the correct path. Sometimes, it happens that that path isn’t correct and oftentimes, you must come together with those generations again to do more learning together. This is what some of the characters of Late Company must do because learning is something that will never stop — it’s constant.  

From the characters on stage who invited over guests for closure, to the people who worked tirelessly on the production together, and even the people who pass down what they know, Late Company from start to finish, from on stage to off stage, is a story about people who have come together.   

With that said, I invite you to come see the Green Light Arts production of Late Company from May 16 to May 26 at the Conrad Centre for the Performing Arts in Kitchener. On Thursdays to Saturdays, the show will start at 8 p.m. and on Sundays, the show will start at 4 p.m. Not to mention, on May 17, if you book a group of eight or more, you could get 25 per cent off the total ticket price along with an invitation to a post-show chat featuring the artists upstairs at the Blair Rehearsal Hall. There will be a cash bar and light refreshments. You can only claim the discount if the group ticket was purchased on May 17. Tickets can be purchased here.