We both had the great privilege of attending the same Catholic high school in Vaughan, ON. More specifically- a Catholic ARTS high school. (For some reason it feels like there is an oxymoron in those words strung together—catholic-arts-school?) Of course, the Catholics created, revered and loved art too. Though maybe there is something to be said about how attending a Catholic arts school may not leave room- or even encourage students- to creatively explore their inner truths, however dark, dirty and painful they may be…Hell, (oops) maybe it was in all that repression and suppression we find ourselves here today: depraved and extra horny, creating wild and outrageous work, asking people to pay money to see it. Thank you, Gesù Cristo.

More privilege allowed us to attend many drama class trips to see massive main-stage theatre shows. We rode the long yellow bus to Stratford, Shaw and Mirvish. And of course, with many of these experiences we came back entertained, singing along to catchy show tunes. However, there was some small yet persistent yearning for something…else? Something different. We most likely couldn’t put the words to it at that time. But if this is all there is?… then we better get familiar with The Bard and practice the kick-ball-change.

It was at 17 when we ventured out without the drama class. These two, baby queer-dohs seeking that something different, something else- some THING that would speak to our curious, creative minds. And we found it. Well Dave did and asked Amanda to attend a play with him at BUDDIES IN BAD TIMES THEATRE. Located DOWNTOWN- which, for teens from Vaughan was as close to scandal as we got, being underage and such. SO we headed to ‘the downtown’ to see this indie theatre show. A show by queer artists, at a queer theatre (at this point not recognizing the queerness we inhabited ourselves…Catholic school, remember?) We saw MONSTER by Daniel MacIvor. It was unlike anything we had been exposed to before. Here was one person on stage telling a story. No ensemble, no quick changes, no musical numbers. Just one…guy. On a bare stage. Under some lights, and We. Were. RIVETED. The world of creative wonder and possibility opened up to us that night and revealed a realm that we ourselves would step into over a decade later.

Now here we are. In our thirties. Bringing our show. A piece we created. Born out of our friendship. To the mainstage at Buddies. A show that features one guy…uh-girl…woman…humanoid? telling a story on a bare stage with some lights and sound. It’s funny how life works sometimes. Truly, it can be hilarious. Who knew, that back then our 17-year-old selves made a wish that night. Memory cannot grasp whether the wish was whispered by our hearts or if we spoke it aloud to each other. Either way, some spark flew off that Buddies’ stage and ignited the fire of a journey we have been on since, as friends and artistic collaborators. The flaming blaze that is BODY SO FLUORESCENT.

It is unreal, surreal, magical that we are producing this show with Buddies. This one’s dedicated to you BIBT and of course YOU, Daniel MacIvor. You have been in our psyches since that memory of seeing you perform, greasing the wheels of our artistic future. Are we here because of you? Maybe too much to say or to put on one person, for sure. But you definitely showed us a facet of this great artistic diamond that we didn’t know existed before.

So, here’s to you and to all of those eccentric, erratic, odd, outlandish, peculiar artists we sought out as teenagers. We don’t know if we would have survived our catholic-arts-school upbringing without you!

To hear more about the journey behind Body So Fluorescent, check out our conversation with Amanda and David.


Image of Amanda Cordner and David di Giovanni, sitting back to back on stage. madonnanera is an artistic collaboration invested in creating outrageous and intersectional new work. First developed as a 25 minute piece for the Rhubarb Festival in 2016, Body So Fluorescent has gone on to tour in Calgary, Stratford, and North Carolina. Body So Fluorescent was produced at the SummerWorks Festival in 2018, and received Now Magazine’s Best of the Fest in Outstanding play, direction, production, performance. Body So Fluorescent has since been turned into a short film, and premiered at the 2020 InsideOut LGBT Film Festival, and won Outstanding Canadian Artist. madonnanera’s second show WRING THE ROSES played as part of Why Not Theatre’s RISER Project in 2019, and was nominated for Outstanding Ensemble at the Dora Mavor Moore awards.

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