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Sundance Theatre Lab Names Projects for 2011

Sundance Theatre Lab Names Projects for 2011

The Sundance Theatre Lab, a three-week retreat for playwrights, composers, directors and librettists, has identified its team of 31 fellows for this year’s program. The lab is the centerpiece of the Sundance Institute’s Theater Program, intended to provide the proper creative environment for artists to develop new projects. The lab will take place from March 27-April 17 at the Branff Centre in Alberta, Canada.

“The artists and plays selected this season are among the most dynamic, diverse and innovative that Sundance Institute has supported in its 30-year history”, said Philip Himberg, producing artistic director of the Institute’s Theatre Program. “These eight works challenge traditional forms and include work written in Kiswahili, Spanish and Mandarin. The Sundance Institute Theatre Lab at The Banff Centre will offer artists an unparalleled opportunity – three weeks of in-depth exploration of their scripts in an extraordinary retreat atmosphere.”

Himberg’s guidance has allowed over 85% of the productions developed at the lab to open professionally across North America and Europe.

Keri Putnam, executive director of the Sundance Institute, said, “The diversity of projects and advisors illustrates the scope of Sundance Institute’s work around the world. We are thrilled to be working with the Banff Centre, an organization of like mind and purpose, and are excited to be hosting some of the greatest artists working in theater today.”

Below is the full slate with synopses, courtesy of the Sundance Institute:

NEW YORK, NY — Sundance Institute today announced the artists and projects selected for its 2011 Theatre Lab to be held at The Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada, from March 27-April 17. The centerpiece of Sundance Institute’s Theatre Program, the Theatre Lab is a three-week developmental retreat designed to provide a private, creative environment for playwrights, directors, composers and librettists to devise and refine new work with the support of creative advisors, full casts and rehearsal space.  This year, Sundance has 31 fellows or generative artists, including playwrights, composers, directors and creative teams. Sundance Institute is grateful for the assistance of the Performing Arts Residency program at The Banff Centre.
The 2011 Sundance Institute Theatre Lab at the Banff Centre:
“Africa Kills Her Sun” (Tanzania/Kenya)
An Adaptation of Africa Kills Her Sun by Ken Saro-Wiwa
Mrisho Mpoto, adapter/performer
Irene Sanga, adapter/performer
Elidady Msangi, composer
Gilbert Lukalia, assistant director/performer
Indhu Rubasingham, director
Ken Saro-Wiwa (1941-1995) was hanged by the Nigerian dictatorship for his activism on behalf of his Nigerian Ogoni people. The original text is a condemned man’s last letter to his loved one. Mpoto and his team are adapting this text and using his poetic style in Kiswahili to combine it with slam poetry and storytelling to talk about corruption and abuse of power in contemporary Africa. Partnering with UK-based director, Rubasingham, the team will develop Sundance Institute’s first all-Kiswahili theatre project. Africa Kills Her Sun was previously workshopped at the 2011 Sundance Institute Theatre Lab on Manda Island, Kenya, as part of the theatre program’s charter lab for east African artists.
“Annie Bosh is Missing” (U.S.A.)
Janine Nabers, playwright
Trip Cullman, director
A family is swept into their own storm of violence and misunderstanding when Annie, a 22-year old recovering drug addict, returns home to Houston in the midst of Hurricane Katrina aftermath. Unable to communicate with her estranged family, Annie ventures out into the turbulent city around her looking for a connection as the rift between Annie and her family worsen. Nabers was a playwright at the 2010 Sundance Institute Playwrights Retreat at Ucross and 2010 member of Ars Nova’s Play Group, and Cullman developed Adam Bock’s A Small Fire at the 2010 Sundance Institute Theatre Lab at MASS MoCA.
Froggy (U.S.A.)Jennifer Haley, playwright
Matt Marrow, director
When Froggy spots her long lost lover in a bootleg video game, she embarks on a quest that takes her from Los Angeles to a ghost town in the Mojave Desert, where she finds herself in a dangerous intrigue with a shady production company and ghosts from her past. Told in voiceover and tableau, this noir thriller was born from the Haley’s fascination with graphic novels. Froggy was written at the Millay Colony for the Arts and previously workshopped at the Page 73 Productions Summer Residency at Yale.
“Light Years to the Delling Shore” (U.S.A.)
Sam Marks, playwright
Director TBA
At an upscale country house in the secluded woods Thomas, a very successful novelist, and his old grad school chum Frank, a struggling writer, have decided to spend a night catching up and have brought along their college-age daughters. The men’s fraught history and competitiveness collides with their daughters’ desire to establish themselves, and avoid replicating their fathers’ damaged relationship. But soon the young women enter  the fray as the bad behavior spins out of control over wine, cheese, and  literary games.
“Like Water For Chocolate” (Mexico & USA)Lila Downs, composer
Paul Cohen, co-composer
Quiara Alegria Hudes, bookwriter
Ted Sperling, co-director
Jonathan Butterell, co-director
Michael Levine, designer
Michael Curry, puppet designer
Like Water for Chocolate is a musical adaptation of the best-selling 1989 novel by Mexican author Laura Esquivel. Making her musical theater debut, Mexican singer-songwriter Downs wrote the songs with her long-time collaborator Cohen, and the script is by Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-nominee Hudes. Like Water for Chocolate incorporates Mexican cooking and the power of food, the magical realism of Mexican folk tales, and both contemporary and ancient theater techniques.
“Stuck Elevator” (U.S.A.)
Aaron Jafferis, writer
Byron Au Yong, composer
Chay Yew, director
Based on the true story of an undocumented immigrant who survived 81 hours in a Bronx elevator, this comic-rap-scrap-metal-music-theatre work follows Guang’s increasingly fantastic attempts to escape a 4′ x 6′ x 8′ metal box. As he climbs into memories, nightmares, and impossible futures, he is cooked into a morsel of Orange Beef and mugged by a bursting bladder. Taking charge, Guang transforms into Takeout Man, battles his prison guard, flies paper airplane menu letters to his family, and leads an army of bicycle deliverymen. Suspended between the upward mobility of the American dream and the downward plunge into an empty abyss, Stuck Elevator travels between refuge/prison, freedom/safety, and voice/silence for our superhero. The text will be in Mandarin and English.
“Untitled Worlds Fair Play” (U.S.A.)
Made by The Debate Society
Hannah Bos, writer
Paul Thureen, writer
Oliver Butler, director
Chicago 1893: The Zoopraxiscope, cracker jacks and neon lights. The Ferris Wheel, hootchy-kootchy… hell they even had the hamburger! On the eve of a glowing new century, something terrible happens in a humble two-story home. And everything ends. Chicago 1933: When The Fair returns 40 years later, so do the unfinished histories of everything that could have been. And so things begin for the hermit upstairs and the mysterious look-a-like below. Play-making company The Debate Society creates a haunted world of forgotten futures, a rotting building and the spirit of invention.
“Wild with Happy” (U.S.A.)
Colman Domingo, playwright
Robert O’Hara, director
Gil plans to toss his mother’s ashes at the place where she was most happy…Disneyworld! In this dark comedy about death, ritual and tradition, Domingo (A Boy and His Soul, Up Jumped Springtime) explores the surreal, bizarre and outrageous comedy that lies in everyone’s search for answers as they try to deal with death and healing. Domingo was previously a member of the 2009 Theatre Lab acting company as well as an actor in Sundance Institute-supported projects Passing Strange and Well on Broadway.

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