Wednesday, August 7, 2013

THE JUNGLE BOOK's Anjali Bhimani Fangirls Over Mary Zimmerman's Inspired Techniques

"Actress Anjali Bhimani is quite possibly Mary Zimmerman’s biggest fan. After working with Zimmerman many times, Ms. Bhimani raves about the successful director’s notoriously organic, inspiration-led process. She is clearly in love with the Zimmerman method." ("Mary Zimmerman Creates 'Theatre Nirvana' Through THE JUNGLE BOOK" by Sally Henry on

This week I got to write the above words based on a wonderful interview with Anjali Bhimani, who plays the mother wolf in The Jungle Book at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago.

Basically this whole interview was a little unusual in the sense that it really isn't about Anjali, but it's about her experience with renowned director Mary Zimmerman (Metamorphoses). Anjali was so great to interview, because she was so excited about this show and was overflowing with praise for her director. When I first said, "I want to ask you about Mary Zimmerman and her very... different style," she said something like, "Oh yeah! I'm the perfect one to interview, because I've worked with her in lots of shows." And in reference to my title, yes "fangirl" is totally a verb used by the cool kids these days. If you don't know what it means, look it up on Urban Dictionary.

There were so many times where she would say something, and in my head I thought, "YES. This will be a great quote!" Unfortunately, I couldn't include all of those. Fortunately, only on Singular Sensation can you get some exclusive extras that couldn't publish!

"[Mary Zimmerman] is very visually inspired"

Working with Mary Zimmerman: "It's a lesson in trust... being willing to experiment"

“It’s not just her audition to see who works well together,” says Bhimani. “But it’s also for the actors to kind of audition her and decide if this process is for them.” Even at auditions, Zimmerman is very open to input from the actors and, as Bhimani says, “really wants to bring the best out of the people she has.”

“She’ll bring in three pages, or she’ll bring in thirty pages,” says Bhimani, explaining that Zimmerman would enter rehearsals for The Jungle Book with a few key scenes specifically in mind, but was constantly experimenting. 

(And actually, there was an element that I touched on in my original, uncut version of the article that I took out of the original, which was the idea of how this measures up to the Disney Broadway classics:) 

While she knows this show will inevitably be compared to the most successful Disney shows, namely The Lion King or Beauty and the Beast, as well as The Jungle Book movie, she above all wants people to see the story as new.

“If theatre audiences in general come to the theatre being willing to enjoy the thing that they’re seeing on stage for what it is, not for what they expect it to be, the experience can be really transcendent, because it’s less about ‘Ok, now, entertain me!’ than, ‘So where are we going to all go together?’”

Check out the interview on!

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