jordan tannahill

I don't think Edward Albee would have enjoyed meeting Canadian-born,  award-winning Jordan Tannahill  or seeing a play of his.

I have enjoyed seeing two of his plays: Concord Floral, last year, and Declarations, this month, both produced by Canadian Stage, the latest one directed by Tannahill. He is 29 years old and he doesn't make me happy, although it's too late for me to care and whine about it. 

What a contrast his plays are to Albee's!  And what a challenge to actors they present. 

"A deeply personal  play about mortality and the fragments that constitute a life (This is a pressed bruise. This is Greta Garbo’'s smile. This is the smell of Windex), Declarations  is an ode to mortality, – that of the playwright’'s mother, his own, humankind'’s, – a joyful and moving attempt to capture the objects, sensations, and experiences that make up a life. Through a lyrical and iterative text, five performers chronicle a life pulled through time, encountering meteorological phenomena, mythology, political calamity, pop culture, and everyday happenstance along the way. What accumulates is a staggering archive of images, sense memories, and voices asserting that here lived, for a time, a woman."

 That's the description from Amazon. Woulld you buy the play on the strength of that?  You might, if you'd seen it first. The actors are the best (hard-working!) sales staff.  I paid rigid attention to the physical presentations of each declarative sentence they portray.  Oh, and BTW, what a contrast to the play I wrote on the death of my father.  Mark is a conventional play with recognisable characters  bearing no resemblance to the smell of Windex or Greta Garbo's smile - well,maybe a little to that enigmatic smile - and yet I have a riff in one scene where the father and daughter play fractured Latin puns with each other, beginning with something m father really said:

Morituri te salutamus: "We who are about to die salute you."  This is the greeting that gladiators were supposed to have given to their emperor before the lethal games.  My father had been given a couple of months to live (cancer of the liver, then totally inoperable), and chose to live the rest of his life running a salon of ideas and memories with family and friends.  I was angry with him for that greeting, which no one else understood and I played with it in an incomprehensbile scene of fractured Latin puns that some of you might know, e.g. Sic gloria transit mundi (Thus passes the glory/fame of the world ) - Gloria gets sick on the TTC on Monday.  Like that.  

It's a wonder the director (William Hutt, who loved the play,  bless him), didn't cut the lines. Tannahill directed his own play so there was no question of cutting, only of interpreting. My play is available in print (Playwrights  Press); to my knowledge it was produced only twice after the original production: once in Waterloo, Iowa, and once in Dundedin, NZ, though ti was considered a couple of times elsewhere, was nominated for a Chalmers Award for new plays (losing to a play called Cripples,I think,  by a paraplegic playwright), and was second for a GeeGee Award, losing to a collected anthology of plays by W.O. Mitchell.  Story of my life.

That's why I am not very happy with Jordan Tannahill.  Not his fault.