In a whirlwind 90 minutes, Another Jungle traverses a wide range of topics—from the historic Chicago meatpacking industry to present day rape culture. During the production process, the creative team had an ongoing and rigorous conversation about how best to support audience members before and after the performance. Our fundamental questions were: How do we, as theatre makers, offer our audiences the proper resources if we are going to ask them to confront challenging material? And how do we make space for an entire array of responses, without trying to dictate how we think people should react?
Knowing that we could never anticipate every response to the play, we decided to offer three different resources before and after the performance: The first resource the audience encounters is an interactive lobby display, including a bookshelf overflowing with titles relating to the themes in the play (books include everything from Back of the Yards: The Making of a Local Democracy by Robert Slayton, Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist, and Working Towards Whiteness by David Roediger). After the show, there is a chill zone available—a semi-private space in the lobby for people who want to take a few moments to ground and re-center before going back into the world.
Finally, a discussion follows every performance. This audience-driven conversation is intended to let folx reflect on anything that’s lingering with them in the moments following the play. The talkbacks are facilitated by members of the cast and creative team with expertise in harm reduction and sexual assault awareness and prevention. These conversations have also run the gamut from the cattle stampede mechanism to the history of the Pride Arts Center space where Another Jungle is taking place (it used to be occupied by Profiles Theatre). As Gregory Geffrard, who plays Stage Manager, says to the audience after the cast takes their bows, “We hope that whether you choose to join us for the conversation or not, that when you go back out into the world you take care of yourself and everyone you have the fortune to come in contact with.”