Above: Antoinette Nwandu Tuvalu, author of the Saddest Song.
Sundance Institute’s Theatre Lab kicks off today with the announcement of this year’s participating acting company and creative advisors. The Lab, which runs through July 30 at the Sundance Resort in Utah, is supervised by Artistic Director Philip Himberg and Producing Director Christopher Hibma, and is the centerpiece of the Institute’s year-round work with the theatre community. It’s one of 24 residency Labs the Institute hosts each year for independent artists in theatre, film, new media and episodic content.
For the three-week Lab, the Institute provides rehearsal space, dramaturgical support, and an acting company, creating an immersive environment where artists can experiment, see their work take shape and collaborate with creative advisors, dramaturgs and actors. The Theatre Lab supports both emerging and established theatre-makers developing new work for the stage, with a focus on assuring that the playwright’s deepest impulses and visions can be realized, and culminates in a closed presentation of each project for Lab participants, followed by a collaborative feedback session.
More than 85% of Sundance-supported plays and musicals find production. Rebecca Taichman, who won this year’s Tony Award for direction, is a Lab alumna and developed Indecent at Labs with Paula Vogel; other recent projects include 2015’s Tony Award Winner for Best Musical, Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori’s Fun Home, and 2014’s winner, Robert L. Freedman & Steven Lutvak’s A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, as well as titles such as ToasT, Iow@, Appropriate, Circle Mirror Transformation, An Iliad, The Lily’s Revenge, The Good Negro, The Light in the Piazza, Passing Strange, Stuck Elevator, Spring Awakening, The Laramie Project and I Am My Own Wife.
This year’s participants include:
Ala Hlehel, Shelby Jiggetts-Tivony, Janice Paran, Otis Ramsey-Zöe
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Melanie Joseph
Ephie Aardema (The Bridges of Madison County), Maechi Aharanwa (An Octoroon), Pascale Armand (Eclipsed), Jerome Preston Bates (Stick Fly), Marsha Stephanie Blake (Joe Turner’s Come and Gone), Jason Bowen, Alex Brightman (School of Rock), Gabriel Ebert (Matilda), Annie Golden (Orange is the New Black), Zachary Infante, Caitlin Kinnunen (Spring Awakening), April Matthis, Nozipho McLean, Caroline Neff, Neil Tyrone Pritchard, Libya Pugh, Emma Ramos, Nican Robinson, Michael Rosen, Keala Settle (Hands on a Hardbody), Jacob Daniel Smith, Felix Solis, Latia Stokes, Kate Wetherhead (Submissions Only), Jamar Williams, Kara Young
Henry Russell Bergstein
William “Peppy” Biddy
Catherine Bloch, Paula Clarkson, Adil El Filali, Mohamad Hamdan, Veronica Lee, Melanie Lisby
in collaboration with CalArts, Howard University & Spelman College
Kennedy Blanchard, Symone Crews, Juliana Ariel DeVaan, Yang (Betty) Hu, Talisha Danielle Middleton, Ceton Tate, Raiven Wright
As previously announced, the projects selected for the Theatre Lab are:
Black Lady Authority
By Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm
Directed by Lisa Marie Rollins
The year is 2020, and the Race Wars have left America all but decimated. Three women take refuge in a theatre; they take control of their destiny and devise a revolution that puts the black woman in charge.
Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm holds an MFA in Playwriting from the Catholic University of America. He is currently in the Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program at Juilliard and is an upcoming 2050 Fellow at New York Theater Workshop. Upcoming: NNPN Rolling World Premiere of his play Br’er Cotton.
Lisa Marie Rollins is a director and writer. Most recently she co-directed Young Jean Lee’s The Shipment and will be directing the West coast premiere of Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm’s HOODED: Being Black for Dummies in 2018. She is a 2017 Directors Lab West Fellow and a recipient of multiple awards for her playwriting, poetry, and theater production work. She has been a writing fellow with San Francisco Writers Grotto, CALLALOO London, VONA Writing Workshop and Just Theater Play Lab. Regional work includes Crowded Fire Theater, Playwright Foundation, Playground at Berkeley Rep, San Francisco Playhouse and new plays by Lauren Gunderson, Geetha Reddy, Idris Goodwin, Philana Omorotionmwan and comedic artists W. Kamau Bell and Zahra Noorbakash.
I Hate Theatre, I Love Pornography
Conceived and devised by Zoukak Theatre Company
Directed by Omar Abi Azar
Performed by Lamia Abi Azar, Hashem Adnan, Junaid Sarieddine & Maya Zbib
I Hate Theatre I Love Pornography is an investigation on the various forms of corruption plaguing today’s world. It questions how we position ourselves as artists and individuals with regards to this corruption, by creating a parallelism between the performative body, the pornographic body, and the corpse.
Zoukak is a non-hierarchical structure, dedicated to theatre practice as a political and social involvement, with a faith in collectivity as a position against marginalizing systems. Their work was shown in the Middle East, Europe, the United States, Africa and South Asia. Zoukak received the Ibsen Scholarship Award (2012), and the Anna Lindh Foundation’s Euromed Dialogue Award for social resilience and creativity (2014).
One Thousand and One Nights
By Wissam Arbache
Creative Consultant Heidi Schreck (Nurse Jackie, Billions, I Love Dick)
Creative Consultant Mauricio Katz (Nino Santo)
One Thousand and One Nights is a celebration of the infinite possibilities and the power of storytelling, and probably the first version of episodic writing as we know it today. In a series of 10-12 nights, Wissam Arabache’s contemporary adaptation aims at recreating the techniques unfolded in this mythical compilation of Middle Eastern and South-Asian stories and folktales through various forms of theatre. It all starts with Shahrayar, a fierce sultan who has taken killing his brides at the morning of the wedding night, as a ‘hobby’. This is until Shahrazad, the vizier’s daughter convinces her father to offer her as a bride to the sultan, so she can put an end to the murder of countless young women. This is how Shahrazad transformed what was supposed to be the last night of her life, into 1001 nights of stories, all interconnected, preventing the sultan from killing her by keeping him hooked on her words.
Wissam Arbache is a director and an actor living between Paris and Geneva. He has directed, Metamorphoses by Saadallah Wannous which premiered at Damascus Opera House, The First Day presented in Beirut, and an adaptation of Mahmoud Darwhish’s Mural performed in Arabic and French at La Maison de la Poésie; and designing cycles of Arabic poetry and theatre to French audiences (Le Poème terre de la langue Arabe at L’Odéon, L’Atelier at L’Institut du Monde arabe in Paris).
Above:Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm, author of Black Lady Authority
Untitled New Musical
Book & Lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire
Music by Jeanine Tesori
Musical Direction by Chris Fenwick
Directed by Sammi Cannold
David Lindsay-Abaire is a playwright, lyricist, and librettist. He’s the author of Rabbit Hole, Good People, Ripcord, Fuddy Meers, and (with Jeanine Tesori) Shrek the Musical, among others. His awards include the Pulitzer Prize, the NY Drama Critics Circle Award, the Horton Foote Prize, and the Kleban Award for lyrics.
Jeanine Tesori’s projects for Broadway include Fun Home (2015 Tony Award winner); Violet; Caroline, or Change; Shrek the Musical; Thoroughly Modern Millie; Twelfth Night (LCT) and John Guare’s A Free Man of Color. For the Public Theater’s Delacorte Mother Courage (starring Meryl Streep). Her opera work includes A Blizzard on Marblehead Neck (libretto, Tony Kushner; Glimmerglass) and The Lion, the Unicorn and Me (libretto, J.D. McClatchy; Washington National Opera). Her songs will be featured in the upcoming Netflix revival of Gilmore Girls. She is the artistic director/co-founder of A Broader Way, an arts empowerment program for girls from underserved communities; the founding artistic director of Encores! Off-Center; and a lecturer in music at Yale University and Columbia University. Ms. Tesori is a member of the Dramatists Guild.
Chris Fenwick most recently music directed the Broadway revival of Sunday in the Park with George, starring Jake Gyllenhaal. He music directed the Public Theater and Broadway productions of Fun Home (2015 Tony Award, Best Musical) and is music supervisor of the current national tour. Music director, City Center Encores! Off-Center.
There’s Always the Hudson
By Paola Lázaro
Directed by Chay Yew
T and Lola met in a support group and the support group ain’t doing shit for them. So, tonight they have decided to take it upon themselves to right the wrongs that have been done to them. Spend the night with two fucked up people who are going to fuck up the people who fucked them over.
Paola Lázaro is a playwright and actress from Puerto Rico. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and is Atlantic Theater’s 2016/2017 Tow Playwright-in-Residence. She was a member of the Public’s 2015 Emerging Writers Group and was selected as Playwright-in-Residence for the 2016 Sundance Theatre Lab. Her plays include Tell Hector I Miss Him and There’s Always the Hudson. In 2015, she was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play.
Tuvalu or the Saddest Song
By Antoinette Nwandu
Directed by Danya Taymor
Los Angeles, California in the mid-nineties, and Jackie-girl is at a crossroads. Tuvalu or The Saddest Song, a coming of age story with a soundtrack, ask how the girls whose mother’s lives have been tainted by abuse, violence, poverty, and shame ever grow into healthy and empowered women.
Antoinette Nwandu is a New York-based playwright via Los Angeles. Her play Pass Over received a World Premiere production at Steppenwolf in June 2017, and her play Breach will receive a World Premiere at Victory Gardens in February 2018.
Danya Taymor is a director and translator. She was a 2014-2016 Time Warner director fellow at Women’s Project, a 2050 fellow at NYTW, a current artist in residence at TFANA, an associate artist at the flea and a member of EST. Upcoming: Antoinette Nwandu’s Pass Over at Steppenwolf and Martyna Majok’s Queens.
By Michele Lowe
December 1963. The Neve family and their neighbors on the south shore of Long Island are getting ready for more than the new year, they’re feeling the stirrings of great change in America. Murder and violence, homophobia, PTSD, the longing for creative fulfillment, beginnings of feminism, and hints of war in Southeast Asia all suffuse this story, set to the music of Miles Davis, about a community struggling with how to move forward when they can’t see what’s ahead.
Michele Lowe received the Francesca Primus Prize for Inana. She made her Broadway debut with The Smell of the Kill. Other plays: String of Pearls Map of Heaven, and Victoria Musica. Upcoming: The Proxy Marriage with Adam Gwon and a commission for Transport Group with Zoe Sarnak.
The Sundance Institute Theatre Program is supported by an endowment from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, with generous additional support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Time Warner Foundation; Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art; Perry and Martin Granoff; LUMA Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; The Shubert Foundation, Inc.; Wendy vanden Heuvel; John and Marcia Price Family Foundation; and The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust.
Sundance Institute Theatre Program
The Theatre Program has been a core component of Sundance Institute since Robert Redford founded the Institute in 1981. The Theatre Program supports the development of new work for the stage. Under the guidance of Artistic Director Philip Himberg and Producing Director Christopher Hibma, the Theatre Program is one of the leading play development programs in the world supporting projects such as Appropriate, Fun Home, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Circle Mirror Transformation, An Iliad, The Lily’s Revenge, The Good Negro, The Light in the Piazza, Passing Stranger, Spring Awakening, The Laramie Project and I Am My Own Wife. The Theatre Program’s International Activity offers Labs, cross-cultural exchange, mentorship and exposure to artists primarily in the Middle East & North Africa. sundance.org/theatre