Theatre of the Unimpressed

Jordan Tannahill's first nonfiction book travels from Broadway spectacles to storefront theatres, trying to determine where lifeless plays come from.

Jordan Tannahill

A lot of plays are dull. And one dull play, it seems, can turn us off theatre for good. Playwright and theatre director Jordan Tannahill takes in the spectrum of English-language drama — from the flashiest of Broadway spectacles to productions mounted in scrappy storefront theatres — to consider where lifeless plays come from and why they persist. Having travelled the globe talking to theatre artists, critics, passionate patrons and the theatrically disillusioned, Tannahill addresses what he considers the culture of 'risk aversion' paralyzing the form.

Theatre of the Unimpressed is Tannahill's wry and revelatory personal reckoning with the discipline he's dedicated his life to, and a roadmap for a vital twenty-first-century theatre — one that apprehends the value of "liveness" in our mediated age and the necessity for artistic risk and its attendant failures. In considering dramaturgy, programming and alternative models for producing, Tannahill aims to turn theatre from an obligation to a destination. (From Coach House Books)

Read an excerpt | Author interviews 

From the book

Had I become disenchanted with the form I had once fallen so madly in love with as a pubescent, pimple-faced suburban homo with braces? Maybe theatre was like an all-consuming high school infatuation that now, ten years later, I saw as the closeted balding guy with a beer gut he'd become. There were of course those rare moments of transcendence that kept me coming back. But why did they come so few and far between?

From Theatre of the Unimpressed by Jordan Tannahill ©2015. Published by Coach House Books.

Author interviews

Featured VideoComing of Age. Toronto playwright Jordan Tannahill wins this year's Governor General's award for English drama for his three play collection, "Age of Minority," which tells the stories of three young outcasts struggling to deal with their sexuality.