Sundance Institute Announces 2018 Theatre Lab Acting Company and Creative Advisors

Advisors Indhu Rubasingham and Hassan Abdulrazzak join Creative Team

Acting Company includes Yassine Ahejjam, Hanane Hajj Ali, Khris Davis, Teresa Lim, Aya Metwalli, Alano Miller, Hala Omran, Sharif Sehnaoui, Micah Stock, Michelle Wilson and others

New York — Sundance Institute’s Theatre Lab kicks off on May 6th, and today announced this year’s participating acting company and creative advisors. The Lab, which runs through May 27 at the Fellah Hotel outside Marrakech, Morocco, 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, alternating locations between Sundance Resort in Utah and a venue in the Middle East/North African region, as part of a multi-year commitment to international work and a means of facilitating cultural exchange between artists writing in English and Arabic.

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. 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 the Tony Award nominee Indecent, Taylor Mac’s A 24 Hour Decade of Popular Music, The Treasurer, Between the World and Me, Where can I find someone like you, Ali?, Skeleton Crew, Sell/Buy/Date, ToasT, Appropriate, Circle Mirror Transformation, An Iliad, The Good Negro, The Light in the Piazza, Passing Strange, Stuck Elevator, Spring Awakening, and I Am My Own Wife.

This year’s participants include:

Dramaturgs
Janice Paran
(Senior Program Associate - Labs), Driss Ksikes, Junaid Sarieddeen, Otis Ramsey-Zoë

Creative Advisors
Hassan Abdulrazzak
, Indhu Rubasingham (Kiln Theatre)

Acting Company
Simona Abdallah
, Yassine Ahejjam, Fatima Akjouj, Malek Akhmis, Hanane Hajj Ali ( Jogging), Khouloud Betioui, Khris Davis ( Sweat, Atlanta), Rosaline Elbay, Imad Fijaj, Amy Hill, Mohamed Salah Khattab, Elise Kibler, Teresa Lim ( Junk), Mahmoud Mahdi, Aya Metwalli, Alano Miller (Underground), Hala Omran, Jeffrey Omura, Mouna R’miki, Rebecca S’Manga Frank, Sharif Sehnaoui, Mirirai Sithole, Austin Smith, Micah Stock ( It’s Only a Play), Michelle Wilson ( Sweat)

Casting Director
Henry Russell Bergstein

Production Manager
Imani Champion

Stage Management
Paula R. Clarkson, Rachel Gross, Helen Irene Muller, Haera Slim, Amine Ait Hammou

Production Assistants
Adil El Filali, Fatima Faris

Special Guests
Alicia Adams
(The Kennedy Center), Spencer Alcorn (Sundance Institute), Bill Bragin (NYU Abu Dhabi), Maria Daif (L’Uzine), Hassan Darsi (La Source du Lyon), Susan Feldman & Erik Wallin (St. Ann’s Warehouse), Lynne Gugenheim (Sundance Institute), Roberta Levitow (Senior Program Associate-International, Theatre Without Borders), Pat Mitchell (President, Sundance Institute Board of Directors), Natasja van't Westende (Dancing on the Edge), Torange Yeghiazarian (Golden Thread Productions)

As previously announced, the projects selected for the Theatre Lab are:

All the Natalie Portmans
by C.A. Johnson
directed by Kate Whoriskey

Keyonna and her older brother Samuel are much more than siblings; they’re best friends. So when they suddenly find themselves on the brink of eviction, this brother/sister pair harness everything, from their fleeting trust in an alcoholic mother to an imagined friendship with a certain Hollywood starlet, in their endless pursuit of happiness at the poverty line.

C.A. Johnson’s plays include Thirst, The Climb, An American Feast, All the Natalie Portmans, Mother Tongue and Elroy Learn His Name. Her work has been developed with The Lark, SPACE on Ryder Farm, the Playwrights Center, the Dramatists Guild and The Civilians. She is the 2018 P73 Playwriting Fellow.

Kate Whoriskey directed Sweat and Ruined, two Pulitzer Prize winning plays written by Lynn Nottage. Her work has been seen at Broadway’s Circle in the Square, The Public, Playwrights Horizons, MTC, The Vineyard, Theatre for a New Audience among others. Internationally, her work has been seen in Paris, São Paulo and Sydney.

America v. 2.1: The Sad Demise & Eventual Extinction of the American Negro
by Stacey Rose
directed by Logan Vaughn

America v. 2.1: The Sad Demise & Eventual Extinction of the American Negro is a day in the life of a troupe of historical re-enactors charged with telling the tragic story of what was once the American Negro, a woeful race once featured prominently in the American landscape, but whose time has been extinguished at his own foolish hand. The troupe find themselves at odds with the state of their own existences while being painfully oblivious to the parallels and intersections their lives draw to that of the very Negroes whose story they are bound to tell. As this oblivion fades and they are faced with their stark reality, this day in the life of actors, becomes a day of reckoning.

Stacey Rose hails from Elizabeth, NJ and Charlotte, NC respectively. She holds an M.F.A in Dramatic Writing from NYU. Her work has been presented at The Fire This Time, The Bushwick Starr and Rattlestick Playwrights Theater. She was a 2015-16 Dramatists Guild Fellow and is a 2017-18 Playwrights’ Center Many Voices Fellow.

Logan Vaughn is a New York based artist and director. In 2008, Logan was awarded the Goodman Theatre’s prestigious Joyce Arts Fellowship in casting and subsequently worked as an Associate in the casting department for five seasons. Logan was Playwrights Horizons’ Director in Residence 2012-2013. In 2012, Logan was also named a Member of the Directors Lab, Lincoln Center. As a Director, she has worked with Geva Theatre, Playwrights Realm, Baltimore Center Stage, Mosaic Theatre, 59E59, National Black Theatre and NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Logan most recently directed the World Premiere of Mat Smart’s The Agitators at Geva Theatre.

Blood in Your Blood
by A. Rey Pamatmat
directed by Lisa Peterson

Star-crossed lovers, fractured time, and a lusty troll are all connected to the violent, buried history of Cora’s family. In her quest to find out how, Cora discovers an enchanted tree that might have the answers tangled up in its roots. But once she digs up the past, what will she do with it?

A. Rey Pamatmat’s plays include Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them (Actors Theatre of Louisville), after all the terrible things I do (Milwaukee Rep), House Rules (Ma-Yi) and Thunder Above, Deeps Below (Second Generation). He co-directs the Ma-Yi Writers Lab and was a PoNY, Hodder and Princess Grace Fellow.

Lisa Peterson has directed world premieres by Donald Margulies, Tony Kushner, Beth Henley, Jose Rivera, Naomi Wallace, Chay Yew, Jane Anderson, Luis Alfaro, and many others at theaters including NYTW, The Public, The Vineyard, Taper, Guthrie, ATL, La Jolla Playhouse, Arena Stage, Seattle Rep, McCarter, and more. She is currently Associate Director at Berkeley Rep.

Casablanca
by Kamal Khalladi
directed by Latefa Ahrrare

Angels don’t fly over Casablanca anymore. Casablanca is not a city of love anymore. It offers its inhabitants only frustration and despair. This play mixes humor and tragedy to tell the story of defeated, broken, and fragile characters, hysterically rushing toward their own ends. Casablanca is a story of sex, money and power, the trinity that destroys people and makes them destroy each other.

Kamal Khalladi is a Moroccan Award-winner playwright. He’s an alumni of PEN World Voices, as well as of the The Royal Court Theatre’s international program. His play Damage was presented in London, Beirut, NYC and Morocco; and his solo pieces, Visa and Salmon Meal, were published in Arabic and English. In 2017, Kamal was a Fellow at the Sundance Institute Playwrights & Composers Retreat at Ucross Foundation.

Latefa Ahrrare is a Moroccan actress and theatre director. She is also the director of Cont’N’Art, a multidisciplinary performance venue. Letfa has received many awards in local and in international festivals for her outstanding career in theatre, TV, and cinema. She is also a cultural activist and a founding member of many NGOs, working on promoting the culture of human rights and freedom in Morocco.

Diary of a Chimera
Written & Performed by Intissar Chaabani
Directed by Racha Baroud

Diary of a Chimera is the story of the impossible mourning of a woman who discovers a family secret forcing her to revisit her life and the shadows in her relationship to the father, men, her own body, and to life. This journey leads to the abolishment of any rational notion of space and time.

Intissar Chaabani taught Arabic and French in Tunisia before moving to Paris, where she studied philosophy and psychology, and worked in socio-professional integration. Since 2008, she’s been working as a real estate agent. Intissar writes lyrics and poems, and has been doing theater since 1979.

Racha Baroud is a Lebanese director, actor, and performer. After her M.A. in Theatre Studies, she directed her first in-site performance Today was my birthday (A Musical Tribute to Tadeusz Kantor); she also performed in several plays and short films, in addition to regular training in voice and body performance with world artists. Her personal work is mainly focuses on memory, sacred, death and sound.

Night (working title)
Conceived & choreographed by Ali Chahrour

Night tackles the poetry, aesthetics, and violence of Love as a concept, and the transformation of its expression from the pre-Islamic age of Jahiliyyah through Islam up through our contemporary societies. Night focuses on stories of transgression of the borders of religion, race, and gender; and it seeks to question the intimacy of this feeling within the context of hatred. In this performance, bodies strive to create new beginnings, only to find themselves unable to reach peaceful endings.

Influenced by contemporary European dance techniques, Ali Chahrour studies the movement in its relation to societies’ memory and local contexts and identities. His work also relies on the Islamic and Shiite religious rituals and practices, especially in his recent trilogy: Fatmeh, Leila’s Death, and May He Rise and Smell the Fragrance. Ali is a graduate of the Theatre Department at The Lebanese University. Ali was a Fellow at the 2017 Sundance Institute | LUMA Foundation Theatre Directors Retreat.

The Rabbits
Written & directed by Hani Sami
Art direction by Sherif Samy

The Rabbits is a psychedelic journey through the unconscious of both Hamdy, its main character, and Cairo, its playground. In it, Hamdy ventures into his utmost fears and faces his personal demons when he finally decides to take action in his life and follow his desire.

Hani Sami is a film and theatre maker based in Cairo. He holds a B.A. in Theatre from the American University in Cairo, and a M.A. in Film Directing from the University of Jean-Jaurès in Toulouse. In his work, Hani is always experimenting with mixing different artistic media to create new hybrid forms of storytelling.

Sherif Samy is a Cairo-based visual artist and creative director. He holds a B.A. in fine arts from Helwan University in Cairo. His works blur the boundaries between traditional painting and digital art. With his passion for storytelling, Sherif started to introduce new flavours to his artworks using different types of visual tools.

Sanctuary City
by Martyna Majok
Directed by Ken Prestininzi

A Cubist play about love(rs) and Dreamers, set in pre-DACA America.

Martyna Majok’s plays include queens (LCT3/Lincoln Center), Cost of Living (Manhattan Theatre Club, Williamstown) and Ironbound (Steppenwolf, WP/Rattlestick). Honors include The Greenfield Prize, Lanford Wilson Prize, Helen Merrill Award, Lilly Award, Helen Hayes Award, Jean Kennedy Smith Prize, NYTW 2050 Fellowship, The Lark’s PoNY Fellowship and The Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University.

Ken Prestininzi is a director/dramaturg of new plays. He directed Peter Sinn Nachtriebs's The Totalitarians, a National New Play Network rolling premiere in New Orleans and San Francisco, the premiere of Nachtrieb’s T.I.C. in San Francisco, and a first workshop production of boom at the Brown/Trinity Playwrights Repertory where he was artistic director. He’s been a lab director for Mia Chung (NYTW/Dartmouth) and a director/dramaturg for Barbara Hammond ( We Are Pussy Riot) and Elana Greenfield ( Wrench). He’s directed new plays by Andy Bragen, Eugenie Chan, Frances Cowhig, Jennifer Haley, Quiara Alegría Hudes, Charlotte Meehan, and Greg Moss and revival productions of plays by Adam Bock, Migdalia Cruz, Pigpen (Deborah Stein), Sarah Ruhl and Paula Vogel. Awards: ACTF, CAC, Christina Crawford, Djerassi, Gerbode, Goethe Institute, NEH and the San Francisco Cultural Equity Office. Ken teaches at Connecticut College and was Associate Chair of Playwriting at the Yale School of Drama.

Untitled Narcissister Project
Written by Narcissister with Branden Jacobs-Jenkins

Performance and visual artist Narcissister develops an evening length spectacle about families, bodies, sex, anonymity and rupture in collaboration with playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. This project is a commission of Soho Rep.

Narcissister is a Brooklyn-based artist and performer. Masked and merkin-ed, she works at the intersection of dance, art and activism in a range of media including film, video art and experimental music. She has presented work worldwide at festivals, nightclubs, museums and galleries. She won “Best Use of a Sex Toy” at The Good Vibrations Erotic Film Festival, a Bessie Award nomination for the theatrical performance of Organ Player, Creative Capital and United States Artists Awards, and interested in troubling the popular entertainment and experimental art divide, she appeared on America’s Got Talent. She is a 2017 Sundance Film Festival alumna.

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ plays include Everybody (Signature Theater), Neighbors (Public Theater), An Octoroon (Soho Rep, OBIE Award for Best New Play), Appropriate (Signature Theater, OBIE Award for Best New Play), and Gloria (Vineyard Theater, Pulitzer Prize finalist). He is a Residency Five playwright-in-residence at the Signature Theatre and the recipient of a 2016 MacArthur fellowship, the Windham-Campbell Prize for Drama, and the inaugural Sundance Institute Tennessee Williams Award. He is a graduate of the Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program at the Juilliard School, holds an MA in Performance Studies from NYU, and is an associate director of the Playwriting MFA program of Hunter College, City University of New York.

Artists-in-Residence

Asiimwe Deborah Kawe is an award winning playwright, producer and performer. Currently, the Kampala International Theatre Festival Artistic Director, and Sundance Institute Theatre Program Associate, Asiimwe worked with Sundance Theatre Program, leading the East Africa Initiative. She received a B.A. in Theatre and an M.F.A in Writing for Performance.

Bashar Murkus is a Palestinian playwright and director and founding ensemble member of the Khashabi Theatre in Haifa. His work has been seen in Palestine, France, Belgium, Tunisia, Ireland, Swiss the US. Murkus studied theatre at the University of Haifa, where he now teaches acting and directing.

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; Perry and Martin Granoff; National Endowment for the Arts; Wendy vanden Heuvel; John and Marcia Price Family Foundation; LUMA Foundation; The Shubert Foundation, Inc.; The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust; Wyncote Foundation.

Sundance Institute
Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and new media to create and thrive. The Institute's signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences to artists in igniting new ideas, discovering original voices, and building a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as Mudbound, Get Out, The Big Sick, Strong Island, Blackfish, Top of the Lake, Winter's Bone, The Wolfpack, Dear White People, Trapped, Brooklyn, Little Miss Sunshine, 20 Feet From Stardom, Beasts of the Southern Wild , Fruitvale Station, Spring Awakening, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

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