Backstage Video: Watch the Curran Theatre Transformed to The Jungle

by Michael Eddy

Here is a backstage time-lapse video of the Curran Theatre in San Francisco as it is transformed for the West Coast premiere of a new play, The Jungle. The play covers the hopeful, resilient residents of the Jungle – the short-lived, self-governing society that emerged within a sprawling refugee camp in Calais, France. After productions in London and New York, The Jungle takes over the Curran, transforming its traditional proscenium space into Miriam Buether’s award-winning set design. The capacity of the theater is now at 600 seats, down from the theater's normal 1,600 seats, for the production that runs from March 26 to May 19. 

British playwrights Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson, founders of Good Chance Theatre, established Good Chance’s first temporary theater space, an 11 meter geodesic dome, in the heart of the refugee and migrant camp in Calais in September 2015, where they lived for seven months before writing The Jungle after the demolition of the camp.

“The Jungle was a reluctant home for thousands of people from all over the world. It was a place where people built temporary lives and communities formed out of necessity. People who visited asked why we built a theater in a refugee camp, but it’s always seemed clear to us that theater should be at the center of the conversation,” said Robertson and Murphy. “We’re thrilled to bring this play to West Coast audiences with its premiere at the historic Curran and look forward to sharing these timely and important stories.”

The Creative Team includes Directors Stephen Daldry and Justin Martin along with Set Designer, Miriam Buether; Costume Designer, Catherine Kodicek; Lighting Designer, Jon Clark; Sound Designer, Paul Arditti, Music Compostions, John Pfumojena; Video Designers, Duncan McLean and Tristan Shepherd; and Stage Manager, Georgia Bird.

When it opened in London, the Guardian called The Jungle “vital drama” and “a necessary piece of theatre.” The New York Times dubbed it an “extraordinary work of immersive theater.” Variety, while far more critical of the show, praised the design and pointed out its “extreme efforts at verisimilitude.”

A view of The Jungle, with a set design by Miriam Buether, playing in the very altered Curran Theatre in San Francisco, CA. Photo By Marc Brenner