The Beast in the Jungle
music by John Kander, book by David Thompson
Originally produced at Vineyard Theatre, New York, NY
May 3 to June 10, 2018
About the Premiere Production:
Synopsis: From five-time Tony Award-winning director and choreographer Susan Stroman, legendary composer John Kander, and Tony Award-nominated playwright David Thompson comes a stunningly original new work — fusing dance, drama and music. Adapted from Henry James’ classic 1903 novella, The Beast in the Jungle is a journey into the haunted psyche of John Marcher, and a great unfulfilled love affair which spans decades and continents. With a waltz-inspired instrumental score, and dazzling choreography that traverses the worlds of ballet and contemporary dance, this powerful and romantic tale of love and loss reunites the remarkable creative team behind The Vineyard’s acclaimed The Scottsboro Boys, and features former American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Irina Dvorovenko (The Americans).
Artistic Statement: At the heart of Vineyard Theatre's mission is our desire to create a very special environment for a family of artists that we believe in to take genuine risks, and to create work that challenges both themselves and our audiences. To this end, we are truly thrilled to continue a long an fruitful collaboration with John Kander, Susan Stroman and David Thompson with their groundbreaking new theatre piece, The Beast in the Jungle. Loosely based on the Henry James novella, this is a completely original and audacious theatre piece - a kind of dance-infused play - with a powerful and compelling libretto exploring one man's personal 'heart of darkness'-like journey. Set both in present day New York, and in various locations in Europe in decades past, The Beast in the Jungle boldly explores how drama, dance, and music can interact in exploring the psyche and life journey of a man and a doomed relationship. In doing so, we think it breaks new ground in terms of theatrical form and storytelling. It is fully conceived by Ms. Stroman as a vibrant and kinetic mix of theatre, dance (drawing heavily on ballet), and movement, and set to a swirling and gorgeous new score by Mr. Kander, all set in 3/4 time. We believe The Beast in the Jungle has the potential to be a major new work as a truly distinctive, stirring, heartbreaking melding of narrative and form.
Grant Statement: Support from the Edgerton Foundation will allow Vineyard Theatre to schedule two weeks of additional time to our rehearsal period for The Beast in the Jungle. Because of its unusual form and the complexity of its narrative structure, the creative team of Kander, Stroman, and Thompson, as well as music director David Loud, would benefit enormously from as much time as possible in the rehearsal room to shape, refine, and create with a talented corps of actors, dancers, and musicians. We will undertake a generative period of rehearsals in November, prior to the start of full rehearsals in April, to shape how these elements work together in collaboration with the full company. Our aim for these early rehearsals is to give the project creative time to crystallize the narrative structure, allow for its integration with choreography, and allow sufficient time for the preparation of orchestrations. Stroman, Kander and Thompson are each artists who make discoveries in the rehearsal room, and given the level of integration in this piece, it is truly invaluable for them to have an extended process. The additional non-consecutive week will also be of great impact for design (the dancers work with shadow and puppetry to help transform locations and to represent "the beast") and music preparation, enabling us to integrate discoveries on both fronts prior to entering the full rehearsal period, in which changes become increasingly difficult and costly.
Director and Choreographer: Susan Stroman
Set Designer: Michael Curry
Lighting Designer: Ben Stanton
Costume Designer: Michael Curry
Sound Designer:Peter Hylenski
Music Director: David Loud
Cast: Irina Dvorovenko, others TBA
Additional funders: John & Robyn Horn Foundation