The production is set in Europe’s largest unofficial refugee camp, the Calais Jungle, which in 2015, became a temporary home for more than 10,000 people. Previewing from 16 June, The Jungle will have an Opening Night on 5 July at the Playhouse Theatre. The first wave of tickets will go on general sale on 15 March.
The Jungle will transfer to the Playhouse Theatre in the West End, where the traditional proscenium theatre will undergo a remarkable transformation. The auditorium stalls will be completely reconfigured to house Miriam Buether’s critically-acclaimed set design as seen at the Young Vic, where audiences were invited to sit at the benches and tables of the Afghan café in the Calais camp. The Dress Circle will be renamed “The Cliffs of Dover” and will allow unique views over the performance space, which extends out beyond the proscenium arch and over the stalls. This in-the-round transformation will reduce the capacity of the theatre to 450 seats, to more closely recreate the intimate and immediate experience audiences had at the Young Vic. A proportion of tickets will be held off sale to be offered to refugees and targeted groups in order to maximise diversity and accessibility.
This is the place where people suffered and dreamed. Meet the hopeful, resilient residents of the Jungle – just across the Channel, right on our doorstep. The Jungle tells stories of loss, fear, community and hope, of the Calais camp’s creation - and of its eventual destruction. Join the residents over freshly baked naan and sweet milky chai at the Afghan Café, and experience the intense, moving and uplifting encounters between refugees from many different countries and the volunteers who arrived from the UK.
The majority of the original cast will transfer with the production, including actors from refugee backgrounds, some of whom came through the Jungle. The cast includes Ammar Haj Ahmad, Mohammad Amiri, Elham Ehsas, Trevor Fox, Moein Ghobsheh, Alex Lawther, John Pfumojena, Rachel Redford, Rachid Sabitri, Mohamed Sarrar, Ben Turner and Nahel Tzegai.
Official charity partner, Help Refugees, will be supported by the production, with fundraising efforts taking place at the venue throughout the entire run.
Joe Robertson and Joe Murphy said: “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 theatre in a refugee camp, but it’s always seemed clear to us that theatre should be at the centre of the conversation. That’s why we’re thrilled to bring this play to new audiences and to the West End, in a totally transformed Playhouse Theatre, a stone’s throw from Parliament. The metamorphosis of the Playhouse is a bold statement: that we need new spaces for this conversation to happen, and that the stories of the people in this play belong on our most significant stages.”
Josie Naughton, CEO, Help Refugees said: “Help Refugees is honoured to be the charity partner for the West End run of The Jungle. We have worked with Good Chance since we first met in Calais in 2015, where their theatre provided camp residents with a vital outlet for self-expression. We are excited that in addition to having local social impact, funds will be raised to actively support displaced people in the UK and in Calais. In northern France, there are currently more than 1,000 people sleeping in the forests with no shelter from the rain and snow, with limited access to drinking water, showers and toilets, with no access to safe and legal routes to sanctuary and no opportunity to learn, work and start a new life. Our teams and our partners are still working tirelessly to provide for people's basic needs, including food, shelter, information and protection.”
Rufus Norris, Director of National Theatre said: “Having visited the Calais Jungle at the end of 2015 it felt incredibly important to tell this story. Joe and Joe’s script together with Stephen and Justin’s production perfectly captures the lives of so many individuals caught up in an impossible situation. The Jungle is an unforgettable experience which is both powerful and moving, and it is wonderful that it has now found a home in the West End.”
David Lan said: “It was clear from the start that The Jungle would be one of the most provocative and significant shows I’ve produced. It tells a powerful real-life story that matters hugely to everyone. It’s created and performed in an enthrallingly, inventive way, by some of those who lived it. Those who saw it at the Young Vic said they’d never seen anything like it - and that it was as if they’d been on the journey of a lifetime. I’m delighted it will now be seen by so many more.”
Sonia Friedman said: "Sometimes plays have to respond to a space. Here, thanks to the commitment of all involved, the space has responded to the work. Experiencing The Jungle at the Young Vic was extremely powerful. Audiences were plunged emotionally and physically into the world of the camp in Calais - a place I visited several times - and the combination of the setting, extraordinary performances and storytelling was a real a sucker punch. I am therefore so happy that we have found a way to transport the world and atmosphere of the play to the West End in a unique and intimate way. The West End needs productions like The Jungle and we have created a democratic pricing structure that allows, I hope, a wide range of people to see it, and to take part in the debate it provokes."
Sonia Friedman Productions and Tom Kirdahy, Hunter Arnold present A National Theatre and Young Vic Co-Production with Good Chance Theatre.