Photo Credit: Andrew Myers


By Jordan Tannahill

In Declarations, acclaimed playwright-director Jordan Tannahill reckons with his mother’s mortality, and his own, through a joyful and moving attempt to capture the objects, sensations, and experiences that makes up a life. Through a lyrical text and physical score of choreographed gestures, 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 sensations, memories, and voices asserting that here lived, for a time, a woman.

“NNNN - Declarations beautifully charts the flow of human memory…Jordan Tannahill's experimental show articulates why we shouldn’t take life’s uneventful moments for granted...writer/director Jordan Tannahill’s Declarations is a beautiful articulation of why we shouldn’t take life’s uneventful moments for granted. Inspired by his mother’s terminal cancer diagnosis, the 70-minute piece charts the flow of human memory and turns remembering into a joyful act.”

NOW MagazineKevin Ritchie

3 ½ out of ★★★★ - “Declarations is a devastating but joyous statement about life and grief…Cast is superb in Jordan Tannahill’s interdisciplinary production created in response to mother’s cancer diagnosis... For most of its duration, this show is not about tears and sadness; it’s about taking stock in the absolute present and this is expressed by the performers really reacting, not acting.”

Toronto Star Karen Fricker

Declarations is an exquisite, complex, moving, layered, poetic, theatrical piece about a son’s love for his Mother, grief, belief, joy and life… Declarations is a challenging work but, as most things, it must be met at least half way. Tannahill puts us in his conflicted emotional world and at times keeps us at a distance. Ebb and flow. Like life.”

The Slotkin Letter Lynn Slotkin

What's makes Declarations unusual is that it is not fuelled by grief – but the heightened awareness of mortality that comes when a loved one is given a terminal diagnosis. It felt like someone trying to process something pre-emptively – and the distanced, distracted result suggests the impossibility of preparing for the loss of a parent. Again, however, this is what makes Declarations original – a constructive failure of performance. The gestures, improvised, eventually develop a sameness lacking in choreographed work. It turns out there are not a million movements a performer can pull out of their head at a moment's notice. And maybe here is life, rather than death: At first everything seems a new discovery – and then even joys become repetitive, and then maybe a new joy is there to be found in repetition, like the chorus of a song.

The Globe and MailJ. Kelly Nestruck

Production Details

5 Performers

75 minutes

By Jordan Tannahill

Purchase Play Script

January 2, 2011

PAST EVENT: Declarations – *World premiere* Canadian Stage (Toronto, ON) January 23 – February 11, 2018

Production History

Jordan Tannahill’s Declarations premiered at Canadian Stage and ran from January 23 – February 11, 2018

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