Amina Henry’s The Animals, at JACK


We all have jobs.

I’ve considered many different lines of employment. I’ve thought here and there about going into teaching, but a friend of mine, a writer like me, went into teaching, and he said that basically a teacher’s brain is not their own. The whole of a teacher’s day is spent engaging with children’s minds, or, more accurately, attempting to engage with children’s minds and when that fails, asking them to sit down, and be quiet, and to just listen for a second, for God’s sake.

I don’t work as a teacher. I work in an office. The question of whether or not I like working in an office is somewhat irrelevant because I ran the numbers the other week and it turns out that I can’t quit my job unless I have some other job and the likelihood of my engaging a job that I would enjoy is remarkably remote.

Teachers are expected, by general society at large, to like what they do. Teachers are expected to understand that, while the task before them is grueling, and success hard to measure, the job is worth it in all the really meaningful ways that a thing can be worth it. But is it really that noble profession staffed by altruistic saints that we all want it to be or is it Sartre’s hell redefined as “hell is other people’s children?”

Enter Amina Henry’s “The Animals,” where the only respite the teachers at Peabody Elementary have during the long, ten months of the school year, is the teachers lounge. Hounded by sounds of exuberant children and a spectacular selection of pop songs, courtesy of a brilliant sound design, the teachers are increasingly shell-shocked by their lives, their professions, and each other.

For the teachers at Peabody Elementary, and perhaps for teachers country-wide, the pay is lousy, the kids are meanies, the administration is absent except for when they micro-manage the classroom setting, and their coworkers are so far from being simpatico as to create a social situation that is almost more awkwardly nuanced than the classroom dynamics themselves. Amina reminds us that when ‘teacher’ stops being a vocation, it is just another job.

What happens when you don’t want to do your job anymore but you still need to make money and don’t think you can do anything else? What happens when your coworkers hold you to emotional standards and not just professional ones?

Once you’re in some kind of job, you’re basically in that kind of job until you suck up all your courage, explode your lifestyle, and pick up something else. In our quest for perfection of passion we forget how hard it is to just work a job and get through life.

Are we the zoo keepers or are we the animals?
Are we the inmates or are we the guards?
In the end, can anyone ever tell the difference?

Go check it out, Amina Henry writes words we need.

Also if Faulker had been my 5th grade teacher my entire life would have been different. If you see it, let me know which teacher you most related to!


Written by Amina Henry
Directed by Gretchen Van Lente
Stage Managed by Lauren Graneto
Featuring: Melissa Diaz, Amelia Fowler, Richard McDonald, Isabelle Pierre, Leta Renée-Alan
Production Team: Angelica Borrero Christopher Cancel

505 ½ Waverly Ave, Brooklyn, NY
(btwn Fulton St and Atlantic Ave; take C or G to Clinton-Washington)

Thurs, June 30 – Sat, July 2, 2016 @ 8 pm
Thurs, July 7 – Sat, July 9, 2016 @ 8 pm


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