Saturday, January 9, 2021

"I'll Be Seeing You Again" - an audio play from Jungle Theater

The third and final installment of Jungle Theater's "Jungle Serial" series of short audio plays was released last week. This has been such a wonderfully creative, inspiring, and entertaining series, but I'll Be Seeing You Again is my favorite of the three. Written and directed by #TCTheater artist JuCoby Johnson, it's a sweet and simple story of a relationship set against the backdrop of a very complicated time - Minneapolis in the uncertain, terrifying, inspiring days shortly after the murder of George Floyd, in the middle of a global pandemic. The intro invokes the physical theater space that we all miss so much, and the play itself feels like a teaser of the incredible art and theater that will be coming out of the events of the past year. As always, the audio play is best enjoyed sitting or lying in a comfortable position, with eyes closed and all other distractions removed, to fully immerse yourself in the experience.

H. Adam Harris narrates the play, inviting us to imagine we're sitting in our favorite theater. He sets the scene for the story, in which exes Theo (Ryan Colbert) and Billie (Rajané Katurah) meet on a Minneapolis street, with sounds of protest, clean-up, and community in the background. They go for a walk, discussing their past, the uncertainties of the present, and their hopes for the future. Then they part and go on with their lives, it's as simple and profound as that. It's one of those plays that I love, in which nothing really happens, but everything happens.

There are a couple of music references that help establish the tone, including the title song, and a YouTube video of Sammy Davis, Jr. (see below). We hear bits of the music during the play, and fuller versions at the end. C. Andrew Mayer's sound design also adds the unmistakable sounds of a busy theater, or a city street, or a quiet lake that make it easy to imagine yourself in those places with these characters. And even though we can't see their faces, the actors imbue the words with such emotion that after just a few minutes spent with them, we really feel like we know who these characters are. Despite the heavy setting, the play is not heavy. It's sweet, and poignant, and hopeful, and even funny at times. It's about moving forward, from a relationship or a racial uprising or a pandemic, into a better future.

All three of the Jungle Serial audio plays (I'll Be Seeing You Again, Mondo Tragic, and CenterPlay) are available to stream from now through January 17. The three plays are very different, but also similar in the innovative way they make use of this new medium. Or rather, the old medium of the radio play, reinvented as a way to make and consume theater during this extended intermission from live theater. Click here for info and to purchase tickets ($20 for all three plays).