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Jordan Tannahill, photo: Lacey Creighton

THE RENAISSANCE MAN Governor General’s Award-winning playwright Jordan Tannahill on Botticelli in the Fire & Sunday in Sodom: a world-premiere double-bill commissioned and produced by Canadian Stage in a unique collaboration with the the Theatre department in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design at York University. Tannahill is a former Ontario Arts Council Playwright-in-Residence at Canadian Stage. The two plays in this double-bill question who writes the official record. Through history, that has seldom been the politically dispossessed. As the old aphorism goes, the deer never tells the story of the hunt. These two plays present joyfully apocryphal retellings of two events — one historic, one mythic — that question the official record via a decidedly queer and feminist lenses. Regarding Botticelli in the Fire, I was intrigued by a footnote in an art history textbook I came across which mentioned that Sandro Botticelli — the famed painter of pagan imagery in the early Renaissance — burned several of his lost masterpieces at the Bonfire of the Vanities in 1497. The Bonfire of the Vanities was a massive inferno of books, paintings, musical instruments, and all manner of ‘occasions of sin’ orchestrated by the charismatic friar Girolamo Savonarola, in reaction to the emergence of secular thought and the Renaissance. Many historians believe that Botticelli was genuinely swayed by the friar’s firebrand teachings, but Botticelli in the Fire goes about providing an alternate rationale for his drastic action. The play is a meditation on the ways in which, throughout history, pleasure, sexuality and ‘vice’ are blamed for all manner of ills. As Lorenzo di Medici says at one point in the play: “There is always a plague, there is always a fire, and there is always a friar who wants to throw people into it." Sunday in Sodom, on the other hand, is a feminist retelling of the mythic destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah as told by Lot's wife; a story recounted in the holy books of all three Abrahamic faiths. In the Bible she is unnamed, mentioned in a single sentence when she is turned to a pillar of salt for looking back at the destruction of her hometown. I grew up in a religious household; my father read the Bible to my brother and I as a bedtime story each night before bed. The story of Lot’s wife was seared into my consciousness at a very young age. I tried to imagine what went through her mind as she decided to disobey god and turn back to behold his wrath. I would try to imagine her face. Sometimes I would imagine her as my own mother. In Sunday in Sodom her name is Edith, and she recounts that final, fateful day, in a town that is situated both within a mythic, Biblical past and a too-real contemporary present. - Jordan Tannahill

On stage at the Berkeley Street Theatre APR 26 – MAY 15 Don’t miss Concord Floral by Jordan Tannahill on the Bluma Appel Stage Sep 27 – Oct 16, 2016, as part of the 16.17 season. 9

15.16 season spring program  
15.16 season spring program