“When we claim our power, who do we hurt? When we ignore our power, who do we abandon?” Tara Branham’s director’s statement for Another Jungle opens with these questions, and intensifies from there. Branham is a forced to be reckoned with in Chicago’s new play development community, both in her work as casting director and producer at Chicago Dramatists, and in her freelance career, in which she has focused on developing and supporting works by prominent artist-activists such as Kristiana Rae Colon and Ricardo Gamboa. Her work often centers around questions of power, gender, race, and sexual orientation, positioning Branham perfectly to excavate these topics in Another Jungle.
Branham brought dramaturg Tanuja Jagernauth to the production. Jagernauth, who comes to the theatre from an earlier career as an acupuncturist, launched the rehearsal process for Another Jungle by leading a Brave Space workshop for the entire creative team. This workshop allowed the team to identify power imbalances, create a community accountability agreement, and cultivate a rehearsal process that prioritizes the wellbeing of the artists in the room. Jagernauth’s incisive dramaturgical work also includes a “power analysis” of the script—a spreadsheet that charts every decision made over the 90 minutes of the play, and how power is being wielded, or is being unwieldy, in that moment.
"As an Indo-Guyanese American writer, Another Jungle resonates with my own struggle to find place on land to which I have no right to claim," Jagernauth says. "In my opinion, this play deftly demonstrates the impact on and resiliency of the individual within white supremacist, heteropatriarchal, capitalist culture. I think that Another Jungle offers a wonderful opportunity for all of us to see ourselves within it and respond, not with inert guilt and shame, but with an active commitment to moving through our complex world differently."
These formidable femmes lead the Another Jungle team with compassion—and humor. In photos, they are almost always laughing. One of the shared tools Branham and Jagernauth use to interrogate oppressive power structures—both within the context of Another Jungle and in their larger body of work—is joy. We are so lucky to have them at the helm!
Playwright Kristin Idaszak (left) with dramaturg Tanuja Jagernauth (right)