THE JUNGLE Will Return to St. Ann's Warehouse in April
On April 2, St. Ann's Warehouse and Good Chance will bring The Jungle, which they have newly repurposed for touring, back to St. Ann's Warehouse, where it made its triumphant, sold-out American Premiere last season in a co-production with The National Theatre and the Young Vic. Determined to continue addressing the U.S. refugee crisis, and fueled by the production's capacity to humanize displaced people, evoke empathy, and spur activism, the two organizations have joined forces to extend the reach of this uniquely impactful work to the epicenter of the crisis and to the seat of policymaking about it: Tijuana, where a new Good Chance Theatre Dome will provide a place for community-building and creative expression for asylum-seekers on the Mexico/U.S. border; and Washington, DC, where The Jungle will begin a North American tour produced by Good Chance and St. Ann's, on the eve of the 2020 presidential election.
Susan Feldman, Founding Artistic Director of St. Ann's Warehouse, said, "The Jungle offers a poignant response to harsh government policies toward refugees and worsening conditions for migrants across the globe. More and more people are suffering as abuses are hidden from view and totalitarian governments rise on the backs of those in need. We hope the production's return to New York, the simultaneous construction of a Good Chance Dome on our border with Mexico, and the tour of The Jungle to American cities-including, first and foremost, the nation's capital-will sound the alarm and encourage people to take action on behalf of our shared humanity."
Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson, Good Chance founders and artistic directors, and co-writers of The Jungle, said, "The Jungle is a play about the challenge of understanding each other. It came from a place where many different nationalities of refugees were forced to live side by side, and to somehow, despite intensely difficult and often perilous circumstances, get on as a community. It feels like a story that is more important than ever. We are so proud to have made this play with many of the friends we made while running a theatre in the Jungle refugee camp in Calais, and even more proud that alongside the running of the play, we will be building a brand-new theatre in Tijuana. It is our hope that The Jungle, together with a Good Chance Dome on the border, will create new ways for all of us to understand the movements that are happening in our world today, and which are only increasing. Migration is no longer a possibility; it is a fact. And it is our collective responsibility to find new ways to welcome people into our societies."
Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), said, "Having seen The Jungle firsthand, I can attest that it is a powerful piece of art that can drive change and raise voices on behalf of displaced people. Its expansion to Tijuana and Washington, DC will mean broader audiences and policymakers will have an opportunity to experience this performance and draw inspiration from its story as we fight to oppose and reverse policies that cruelly target refugees. Now more than ever we need insightful, visionary work like this, and I'm excited more people will be engaged by this moving story."
The Jungle is an intense remembrance of the bulldozed camp in Calais, France, where thousands of refugees who had escaped drought, war, and strife in countries in Africa and the Middle East waited for their "good chance" passage to Britain. With minimal resources in the squalid, sprawling landfill-turned-makeshift-camp, immigrants and committed volunteers built a warm, self-governing society-with restaurants, shops, a school, a church, a sauna-from nothing. With the fervent hope that this short-term society would be remembered in all its complexity, Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson wrote The Jungle after going to Calais and constructing a theater in a geodesic dome they called the Good Chance Dome.
Directed by Stephen Daldry (The Crown, The Inheritance) and Justin Martin (The Crown, The Inheritance), the play invites the audience inside a faithfully replicated Afghan restaurant where endless cycles of survival and threat, failed social contracts, creative thought and action, and acts of compassion unfold. The New Yorker wrote, "[The Jungle] does not so much present its story as plunge us directly into it, to astonishing emotional effect."
Most media coverage of refugees tends to focus on unfolding humanitarian crises and the rabid responses to them among rising nationalist movements and governments; the individual stories of the fleeing men, women and children, like those living in the Calais Jungle, are rarely heard. The Jungle centers these personal stories and the events leading up to the camp's demolition by the French government in a sharp-eyed tribute to human resourcefulness and resilience against enormous odds.
The Jungle has been energizing an international conversation around immigration, borders, and the lived experiences of refugees ever since its momentous first co-production with The National Theatre at the Young Vic in December 2017. In 2018, it had a highly successful run on London's West End before making its American Premiere at St. Ann's Warehouse, where it played to over 20,000 New Yorkers, garnered inclusion on numerous major critics' Best Theater of the Year lists, and won a special citation in the 2019 OBIE Awards.
Ammar Haj Ahmad, who movingly portrays Safi, the narrator, and Ben Turner, the charismatic restauranteur Salar, will return to St. Ann's, having won the hearts of audiences in the production's American Premiere at the Brooklyn waterfront venue.
Two stalwart DC theaters, Shakespeare Theatre Company and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, will partner for the first time to present The Jungle in the capital city, August 25 - September 13 at Sidney Harman Hall.
Good Chance and St. Ann's Warehouse will announce additional North American tour dates and full casting for St. Ann's Warehouse soon.
Good Chance Dome on the Mexico-U.S. Border, April 14 - June 13
When French police demolished the Calais Jungle in 2016, Good Chance saved the geodesic dome that had for eight months stood as a community-run theatre and town hall space for all the residents of the camp. The company has since erected the Dome in six different locations in Paris, as well as in London, Coventry, and at St. Ann's Warehouse, where the original Calais Dome, too tattered for outdoor use, will return, along with the production, in April. It provides a venue for locals and refugees to come together to express themselves and share cultures.a??
Good Chance will construct a new dome in partnership with the Instituto Municipal de Arte y Cultura (IMAC, or the Municipal Institute of Arts and Culture) in Tijuana, Mexico, where tens of thousands of migrants and refugees are stranded in legal limbo, in makeshift shelters across the sprawling city, while seeking to claim asylum in the United States. The hundreds of shelters, housing 30 to 300 people each, are lifelines for the people living in them, but, because Tijuana is such a vast metropolis, there is little opportunity for them to connect and coordinate with each other and build community. As is common in these situations, shelters and organizations providing support necessarily focus on the basic needs; it is often not possible for provision for art, culture, and expression to take precedence.
Minerva Tapia Robles, Director of the Instituto Municipal de Arte y Cultura, said, "Talking about Tijuana is talking about diversity, and migration has been a key part of our city's cultural wealth. As an institution, we always seek to join forces with those who do not seek to build walls, but collaborative bridges. We are honored to be part of this project, and we open our arms to anyone who seeks to impact society through the arts and culture."
Good Chance and IMAC are working with partners across Tijuana including the theater company Tijuana Hace Teatro and humanitarian organizations including Families Belong Together and Border Angels. The project is being led by two core members of the Good Chance team: Claudia Benítez, from Mexico, and Ana Guerrero, from Colombia.
Good Chance and three curators, including Jesús Quintero and Ramón Verdugo of Tijuana Hace Teatro, will work with these partners to program performances by local artists, in addition to inviting artists from across Mexico, the U.S. and around the world to animate the Dome with workshops in multiple art forms: theatre, dance, singing, drumming, puppetry, poetry, illustration, and more. Each week will culminate in a Hope Show, where the public is invited in to see what has been created, to share different cultures, and to hear the stories of the people living in their city.
The Dome will be easily accessible via public transportation, and Good Chance plans to operate a regular bus service to and from the shelters to it, in order to enable migrants from across the city to access the Dome and to connect these groups of people to build strong, lasting community relationships.
Good Chance Executive Director Naomi Webb said, "It's more important than ever that the story of the Calais Jungle is out there for audiences to see, and that alongside it Good Chance is bringing together migrants and local people on the U.S./Mexico border to share cultures and build community. Visiting Tijuana in 2019, we were overwhelmed by the enthusiasm for the Dome from migrants living in shelters across the city and local arts and humanitarian groups. Our local partners are crucial everywhere Good Chance works, and we're delighted to be working alongside IMAC who are so dedicated to the project and to continuing artistic engagement with migrants and local people together."
Tickets and Additional Information
Performances of The Jungle begin at St. Ann's Warehouse (45 Water St, Brooklyn, NY 11201) on April 2. Tickets, starting at $35, are available now at stannswarehouse.org, 718.254.8779, and 866.811.4111.
Shakespeare Theatre Company and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company co-present The Jungle at Sidney Harman Hall (610 F Street NW. Washington, DC 20004) August 25 - September 13. Tickets are available exclusively to subscribers to the Shakespeare Theatre Company or Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company until July 20, 2020, and can be purchased at 202.547.1122 and shakespearetheatre.org.
The Good Chance Dome will be located at the Casa de la Cultura Playas de Tijuana at IMAC (Paseo Playas de Tijuana 777, Playas, Jardines Playas de Tijuana, 22517 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico). Admission is free. For more information, please visit www.goodchance.org.uk/tijuana.