Theatre from The Jungle addresses the unique landscape of immigration and labour in Brandon, Manitoba through a re-evaluation of Upton Sinclair’s 1906 novel entitled “The Jungle”. To develop the project, the artists worked with a group of twelve individuals consisting of immigrants who are current or ex-employees of the largest hog processing plant in Canada.
The first part of the project presents individuals and groups performing movements common to a hog processing plant, such as ushering in pigs, removing heads, slicing guts, chopping ribs, counting chops, packing boxes, etc. The piece gives a glimpse into the organization of the production line, but more explicitly portrays the patterns of bodily movements at work in the meat packing industry. By subtracting the factory, meat, tools, noise, and protective gear that employees normally wear, the piece calls attention to the singularity of the individual – not as a worker but as a person – as well as to the interaction between colleagues. It also gives visibility to the particular form that a body and mind adopt in a highly repetitive production process designed for standardisation and efficiency.