Videofag doesn’t have a fireplace. But if it did, Jordan Tannahill would have yet another accolade to place upon the mantel of his Kensington Market home. Along with a Dora Award, the Enbridge playRites Award, Inside Out’s Emerging Canadian Artist Award and the Ken McDougall Award, Tannahill has just been handed Tarragon Theatre’s Urjo Kareda Residency Grant. Named for the company’s longtime artistic director, who died in 2001, the prize comes complete with a 20-week residency and a $15,000 paycheque. Xtra talked with the much-lauded artist about receiving the award and how he’ll manage the workload alongside running his space.
When did you find out you had received the award?
I got the call while having dinner with my family in Ottawa. They’re incredibly supportive, but I think a lot of what I tell them about theatre sort of sounds the same to them. I told them, and they said, “Oh congrats,” raised their glasses, and dinner carried on. And then halfway through dinner, I was like, “Guys, I’m really excited about this Tarragon thing,” and they were, like, “Yeah, it’s great. And you know what else, I love this salad.”
How do you imagine continuing to balance your work at Videofag alongside this process and your other projects?
For one, I have a miraculous partner, William Ellis, without whom the whole house of cards would come toppling down. The great thing about Videofag is that it’s really a community initiative and is kept alive by so many more people than just the two of us. We’re still the ones mostly mopping floors and selling beer, but we’re getting better at handing things over and carving out time for ourselves.
Besides the money, what do you hope this opportunity will do for you?
I’ve had the chance to support a lot of incredible work by my peers in the last year and half through Videofag. But it’s an impossible place to try to write a play. Just as you’re sitting down with a cup of tea at the keyboard, a loud dance rehearsal begins a few feet away or someone is asking you where the paint rollers are or walking past your door with their ass covered in glitter. I actually love all that, but having an environment where I can escape and focus on my own craft as a playwright will be really invaluable.