Theatre Program


About the Theatre Program

The Sundance Institute Theatre Program provides a unique catalytic process of artistic engagement for independent theatre-makers in the U.S. and globally through a range of artist-driven developmental opportunities that connect, support and sustain artists across their careers.

Led by Artistic Director Philip Himberg and Producing Director Christopher Hibma, the Sundance Institute Theatre Program emphasizes intensive and limited-time interactions with high-level artistic mentors within the context of retreat settings removed from commercial pressures and other demands of contemporary life. The result is Lab experiences that are transformative on both personal-artistic and project-specific levels.

Labs & Retreats

The Sundance Theatre Lab process is not tied to any particular methodology or “how-to” of “one size fits all” new work development. Rather, Labs are artist-focused and artist-led to offer generative artists refreshing opportunities for experimentation and discovery. Labs reflect Sundance founder Robert Redford’s early awareness that beautiful natural surroundings enhance creativity. Artists spend focused time in a range of Lab configurations, all placed in isolated settings of natural beauty, within a nurturing community of fellow participants and mentors.

  • Information about the 2019 Theatre Lab application will be available starting September 25, 2018.
    The deadline for application will be November 15 at 5:00 PM EST.
    The dates for the 2019 Theatre Lab are July 8-28, 2019 and the Lab will be held at the Sundance Resort in Utah.
    US Inquiries:
    MENA Inquiries:

  • Application By Invitation
    Dates December 3-17, 2017
    Size of Lab Up to 3 Projects
    Location MASS MoCA - North Adams, MA
    Eligibility Musicals or Ensemble-Created Projects
    Description In our annual collaboration with MASS MoCA, the Sundance Institute Theatre Lab at MASS MoCA (Massachusetts) supports 2-3 projects annually from the US and MENA region, and focuses on the creation of new musical theatre and on work generated by acting companies or ensembles. Projects at MASS MoCA are cast individually and rehearse daily – affording musical productions the luxury of ongoing time to develop work without interruption and within their unique, shared vocabulary.
  • Application By Invitation
    Dates TBD
    Size of Lab 6 Directors
    Location Arles, France
    Description This 12-day artists retreat in the Roman city of Arles France complements other Theatre Program initiatives by providing resources to stage directors. It addresses an identified need for mid-career, freelance theatre directors and choreographers in the US and globally to exchange ideas, engage challenges and share practice. In partnership with the LUMA Foundation, the Retreat takes place annually and provides a unique opportunity for Sundance Institute-supported directors from the US and MENA region.
  • Application By Invitation
    Dates February 5-23, 2018
    Size of Lab Five playwrights & two composers
    Location Ucross, Wyoming
    Description An 18-day writing colony where five playwrights and two theatre composers from the US and MENA region convene each year to put pen to paper, and where a Sundance Institute dramaturg is on hand to respond to work at an early stage of the creative process. This Retreat at Ucross Foundation includes both emerging and established artists, creating an environment of peer mentorship, professional growth, and unfettered, unpressured creativity.

International Work

Sundance “deepens the resolve of artists by bringing them together in a creative community so that they know they are not alone.” -Robert Redford

Since 1997, the Theatre Program’s international activity has grown from a handful of international observers at the Theatre Lab in Utah to over 14 years of deep peer-to-peer intercultural engagement in six East African countries and, currently, in the Middle East & North Africa. Exposure and exchange foster the pursuit of artistic freedom, a celebration of diversity, a commitment to transparency and openness, and an appreciation of differences.

The Theatre Program serves as “the space between” the conception of a work and its eventual production by providing artists time for reflection, experimentation and mentoring within the context of an intimate peer-level artistic community. In 2016, the Theatre Program expanded this notion to describe not only the complex space between idea and production, but also to open up new spaces of aesthetic, cultural and geographical exploration.


Creative Tensions, a unique live event series where participatory theater meets collective conversation. Devised in collaboration with IDEO, Creative Tensions explores the opposing forces that inform our daily lives and is a collective conversation expressed in movement, wherein participants reveal where they stand on an issue by virtue of where they stand in the room. Guided by a moderator and provoked by speakers (we call them protagonists) who approach the topic from different perspectives, Creative Tensions is an eye-opening, reflective, and inspiring live experience. Click here for the Creative Tensions website and to find out about future events.

On going Project Support

  • Each season, Theatre Program alumni projects receive the benefit of pre-Lab support prior to their participation in any Lab opportunity. This support ensures that dramaturgical and creative team matches are meaningful and productive. Likewise, alumni projects are eligible for additional support after their Lab experience. Post-Lab support can be supplemental dramaturgical input, a 29-hour workshop, translations and a host of other opportunities identified by alumni artists. Post-Lab support funds are made available when requested and approved by theatre program staff. The staff may also involve themselves in advocacy or follow-through for specific projects; however, Sundance does not function as a formal producer of plays.

  • The Theatre Program awards one grant each year in a partnership with Time Warner Foundation. This grant is awarded to a recent alumni of the Theatre Program’s Labs and Retreats.

Support for the Theatre Program

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; the John and Marcia Price Family Foundation; The Shubert Foundation, Inc.; LUMA Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust; Karen Lauder; Joan and George Hornig; The Carrie Louise Hamilton Foundation; The Tony Randall Theatrical Fund, Inc.; and USA for Africa.

Support The Sundance Institute Theatre Program

THEATRE PROGRAM STAFF (R-L): Christopher Hibma, Producing Director, Iyvon Edebiri, Producing Coordinator. Ignacia Delgado, Literary Manager. Ana Verde, Intern. Philip Himberg, Artistic Director. Jumana Al-Yasiri, MENA Manager.

Philip Himberg, Artistic Director
Christopher Hibma, Producing Director
Ignacia Delgado, Literary Manager
Jumana Al-Yasiri, Middle East & North Africa Manager
Ana Verde, Coordinator Office Administration & Theatre Program

Roberta Levitow, Senior Program Associate-International Janice Paran, Senior Program Associate-Labs Kailee Ayyar Alex Barron Mame Hunt Anne Kauffman Asiimwe Deborah Kawe Hadi Tabbal Liesl Tommy

Elliott Breece, Google Music Luis Castro, Producer Maria Cuomo-Cole, HELP USA Jeanne Donovan Fisher, True Love Productions/Sundance Institute Trustee Roshi Givechi, IDEO Joe Machota, Creative Artists Agency Georgiana Pickett, Baryshnikov Arts Center Zeenat Rahman, Aspen Institute Jon Reinish, SKDKnickerbocker Liesl Tommy, Director