Jordan Tannahill

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Jordan Tannahill
BornMay 19, 1988
Occupationauthor, playwright, film and theatre director
Notable worksLiminal, The Listeners, Concord Floral, Botticelli in the Fire

Jordan Tannahill is a Canadian author, playwright, filmmaker, and theatre director.

Early life[edit]

Tannahill was born and raised in Ottawa, where he attended Canterbury High School. He moved to Toronto at the age of eighteen, and began making short films and staging experimental plays, often with non-traditional collaborators like night-shift workers, frat boys, preteens, and employees of Toronto's famed Honest Ed's discount emporium.[1][2][3][4]

Theatre and Performance[edit]

Tannahill's work frequently draws on queer and feminist politics, postdramatic theatre, autobiography, and mythology.[5] His plays have been translated into nine languages and honoured with a number of international prizes.[6] In 2016 he was described by the Toronto Star as being "widely celebrated as one of Canada’s most accomplished young playwrights, filmmakers and all-round multidisciplinary artists."[7]

Tannahill won the Governor General's Award for English-language drama in 2014 for Age of Minority: Three Solo Plays,[8] and again in 2018 for his plays Botticelli in the Fire & Sunday in Sodom.[9] He was also a finalist for the award in 2016 for Concord Floral. He has been nominated for several Dora Mavor Moore Awards, winning in 2013 for his live-streamed monologue rihannaboi95, and in 2015 for his play Concord Floral.

Tannahill's production of Sheila Heti's play All Our Happy Days Are Stupid, which he directed with collaborator Erin Brubacher, premiered in 2014 at Videofag, more than a decade after Heti first began the script. Heti's struggle to write the play is one of the central plot-lines in her bestselling novel How Should a Person Be?.[10] The production, which featured original music by Dan Bejar, was later remounted at Toronto's Harbourfront Centre and The Kitchen in New York City in 2015.

In 2017, Tannahill's play Late Company transferred to London's West End.[11][12][13] In the same year, his virtual reality performance Draw Me Close, co-produced by London's National Theatre and the National Film Board of Canada, premiered at the Venice Biennale.[14]

Tannahill's work in contemporary dance includes choreographing and performing with Christopher House in Marienbad for the Toronto Dance Theatre in 2016; and writing the text for Xenos in 2018, and Outwitting the Devil in 2019, two shows by choreographer Akram Khan, which have toured internationally to venues including the Edinburgh International Festival, Sadler's Wells Theatre, Festival d'Avignon, and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

Tannahill's book of essays on theatre, Theatre of the Unimpressed: In Search of Vital Drama, first published in 2015,[15] was called "essential reading for anybody interested in the state of contemporary theatre and performance" by the The Globe and Mail.[16]



Liminal is a work of autofiction which follows the character Jordan as he reckons with the nature of consciousness, precipitated by the sight of his mother's sleeping - or possibly dead - body.[17] In her review of the novel, Martha Schabas of The Globe and Mail said "Liminal captures something illuminating and undefinable about the present moment; it speaks in the code and cadences of the late 2010s and paints an incisive portrait of the demographic we call millennial", and compared it to the work of authors Ben Lerner, Rachel Cusk and Karl Ove Knausgaard.[18] The book was named one of the best Canadian novels of 2018 by CBC Books,[19] and received France's 2021 Prix des Jeunes Libraires.[20]

The Listeners[edit]

The Listeners follows Claire Devon, a woman whose life begins to unravel after she starts hearing The Hum. The book was shortlisted for the 2021 Giller Prize.[21] It forms the basis of a new opera by composer Missy Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek, premiering at the Norwegian National Opera in 2022.[22]


In 2012, in collaboration with his then-partner William Ellis, Jordan founded and ran Videofag, an alternative arts space operated out of a defunct barbershop in Toronto's Kensington Market. The space doubled as the couple's home and became an influential hub for counterculture in the city, until its closure in 2016.[23][24]


Tannahill has been described as "the enfant terrible of Canadian Theatre" by multiple publications including The Walrus,[25] Le Devoir,[26] and Libération.[27] He has also been called "one of Canada's most extraordinary artists" by CBC Arts,[28] "the future of Canadian theatre" by Now,[29] "the hottest name in Canadian theatre" by the Montreal Gazette,[30] and "the posterchild of a new generation for whom 'interdiscplinary' is not a buzzword but a way of life" by The Globe and Mail.[31] In 2014, Tannahill was named one of the 'Canadian Artists of the Year' by The Globe and Mail.[32] In June 2019, CBC Arts named Tannahill as one of sixty-nine LGBTQ Canadians, living or deceased, who has shaped the country's history.[33]

Political views[edit]

Tannahill is an anti-monarchist, and has written about the need for Canada to sever ties with the British Crown.[34] He is also a critic of Brexit.[35]

On November 23, 2018, Tannahill read the entirety of Judith Butler's Gender Trouble outside the Hungarian Parliament Building in protest of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's decision to revoke accreditation and funding for gender studies programs in the country.[36][37]

On April 4, 2019, Tannahill and three collaborators staged a protest action during high tea at The Dorchester Hotel.[38] The action was in response to Brunei's introduction of laws that make homosexual sex and adultery punishable by stoning to death.[39] The Dorchester Collection is a luxury hotel operator owned by the Brunei Investment Agency. Video documentation of the protest action, and Tannahill's forceful removal from the hotel, went viral soon after it was posted online.[40]

On April 21, 2019, Tannahill was arrested while participating in the occupation of Waterloo Bridge as part of ongoing Extinction Rebellion protests in London.



  • Is My Microphone On?, 2021
  • Declarations, 2018
  • Botticelli in the Fire, 2016
  • Sunday in Sodom, 2016
  • Concord Floral, 2014
  • Late Company, 2013
  • rihannaboi95, 2013
  • Peter Fechter: 59 Minutes, 2013
  • Post Eden, 2010
  • Get Yourself Home Skyler James, 2010


  • The Listeners, 2021
  • Liminal, 2018


  • The Videofag Book, 2018
  • Theatre of the Unimpressed: In Search of Vital Drama, 2015


  1. ^ "SummerWorks 2009: The Graveyard Shift". Torontoist, August 8, 2009.
  2. ^ "Takes Two Men To Make a Brother at The Harbourfront Centre". The Harbourfront Centre, February 6, 2009.
  3. ^ "Biting Into Rhubarb: Part Two". Torontoist, February 19, 2010.
  4. ^ "Honesty". Now, October 22, 2012.
  5. ^ "Signs of good things to come". The Globe and Mail. January 10, 2013.
  6. ^ "Thomas King wins Governor General’s award for fiction". The Globe and Mail, November 18, 2014.
  7. ^ "Marienbad Enigmantic but Compelling". Toronto Star. May 27, 2016.
  8. ^ "Governor General's Award winner Jordan Tannahill's rainbow connection". National Post. November 18, 2014.
  9. ^ "Book about campus rape and an Indigenous memoir win $25,000 Governor General’s Literary Award". Toronto Star, October 30.
  10. ^ "How Sheila Heti's long-abandoned play went from her bottom drawer to a Toronto stage". The Globe and Mail. June 17, 2014.
  11. ^ "Late Company, Trafalgar Studios - this play is unapologetically conventional but utterly transfixing - review". Go London. August 26, 2017.
  12. ^ "Late Company, theatre review: Nimble study of a prickly subject". The Telegraph. August 25, 2017.
  13. ^ "This is theatre in its purest form: a cathartic cleansing". The Independent. May 3, 2017.
  14. ^ "The Films of Venice Virtual Reality Selection". La Biennale di Venezia.
  15. ^ "The 50 most anticipated books of 2015 (the first half, anyway)". The Globe and Mail, January 2, 2015.
  16. ^ "Jordan Tannahill’s Theatre of the Unimpressed is essential reading for anybody interested in contemporary theatre". The Globe and Mail, June 12, 2015.
  17. ^ "Jordan Tannahill’s Liminal paints an incisive portrait of millennials" The Globe and Mail, February 8, 2018.
  18. ^ "Jordan Tannahill’s Liminal paints an incisive portrait of millennials" The Globe and Mail, February 8, 2018.
  19. ^ "The Best Canadian Fiction of 2018". CBC Books, December 12, 2018.
  20. ^ "Prix des jeunes libraires". Prix des jeunes libraires, June 16, 2021.
  21. ^ Adina Bresge, "Two-time runner-up Miriam Toews among authors on Giller Prize shortlist". The Globe and Mail, October 5, 2021.
  22. ^ "Grants & Grantees". The Pew Centre, February 26, 2019.
  23. ^ "Videofags: A new queer art space in Kensington - ready to blow your mind". fab, October 17, 2012.
  24. ^ "Video fags: Couple creates queer Kensington salon". Xtra!, October 16, 2012.
  25. ^ "Play Fighting". April 6, 2017.
  26. ^ "Liminal: entre la vie et la mort, un temps suspendu". December 28, 2019.
  27. ^ "Liminal: en un laps d'antan". December 20, 2019.
  28. ^ "Our very personal picks for the best movies, music, theatre and art of 2018". December 27, 2018.
  29. ^ "Winter Stage Preview: Jordan Tannahill". Now. January 14, 2014.
  30. ^ "Pop Tart: Playwright Tannahill, National Theatre School put on Total Liquidation". Montreal Gazette. October 21, 2015.
  31. ^ "Meet The Globe's Canadian artist of the year, plus seven other top talents". The Globe and Mail. December 24, 2014.
  32. ^ "Meet The Globe's Canadian artist of the year, plus seven other top talents". The Globe and Mail. December 24, 2014.
  33. ^ "Super Queeros!". CBC Arts. Jun 20, 2019.
  34. ^ "Canadians are not vassals of the British crown - it's time we severed our ties". The Guardian, September 27, 2016.
  35. ^ "Love in the time of Brexit". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, December 16, 2016.
  36. ^ "No problem: a Canadian writer protested against the abolition of gender studies at Parliament". Merce, November 24, 2018.
  37. ^ "On a Friday for seven hours, a Canadian writer in Parliament was reading one of the most well-known books of gender studies". 444, November 24, 2018.
  38. ^ "LGBTQ+ Activists Just Invaded Dorchester Hotel to Protest Brunei". Out, April 4, 2019.
  39. ^ "Protester pulls out megaphone and interrupts patrons at Brunei-owned hotel". Gay Star News, April 4, 2019.
  40. ^ "Gay rights activists infiltrate Dorchester Hotel in protest over Brunei death penalty". Metro, April 6, 2019.

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