The Jungle Book | Goodman Theatre | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader

The Jungle Book Member Picks The Short List (Theater) Closing (Theater and Galleries)

When: Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through Aug. 18 2013

Mary Zimmerman was drawing heat for her stage version of The Jungle Book even before it hit the Goodman Theatre stage. First off, Chicago magazine's Catey Sullivan noted that the material in the show derives originally from a collection of short stories by Rudyard Kipling, the Victorian-era Nobel laureate anathematized now as a leading apologist for Western imperialism and its racist underpinnings. Worse, Zimmerman's more immediate source is Disney's 1967 animated Jungle Book, which some consider racist in its own right—exhibit A being "I Want to Be Like You," a jazzy number sung by a bunch of apes, including an orangutan named King Louie, whose style veers uncomfortably close to that of Louis Armstrong (though the voice on the soundtrack actually belongs to Italian-American Louis Prima). In a screed titled "The Trouble With Mary," Silk Road Rising artistic director Jamil Khoury impugned Zimmerman—who's adapted such Near Eastern and Asian classics as The Arabian Nights, Journey to the West, Mirror of the Invisible World, and, of course, the Odyssey—for her "reckless, unexamined Orientalism." Evidently secure in his own bona fides as an American with relatives who've actually lived in Syria, Khoury advised Zimmerman to "adapt stories about her native plains states and leave the Silk Road alone!" Continue reading >>

Price: $27-$125


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