Sundance Institute 2011 Playwrights Retreat at Ucross Begins

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UCROSS, WY – The 2011 Sundance Institute Playwrights’ Retreat at Ucross began today and will run through February 25 in Ucross, Wyoming. This unique residency program offers playwrights and theatre composers — both emerging and established artists — peer mentorship, professional growth, and a chance to explore unpressured creativity at an idyllic 20,000 acre cattle ranch in northeastern Wyoming. The Playwrights Retreat, supported by the Sundance Institute Theatre Program, is made possible through the generosity of Ucross Foundation.

Unlike other Labs offered through Sundance Institute’s artist development programs, there are no actors at the Playwrights Retreat. Instead the emphasis is on writing and musical composition. The Light in the Piazza, I Am My Own Wife, Circle Mirror Transformation and The Good Negro all received initial support from the Institute through the Playwrights Retreat at Ucross.

The participating artists were selected and invited by Philip Himberg, Sundance Institute Theatre Program Producing Artistic Director. Roberta Levitow, Sundance Institute Artistic Associate for the Theatre Program’s East Africa initiative, is also in attendance. Mame Hunt, Sundance Institute Artistic Associate, Ucross, serves as Dramaturg for the residents.

The 2011 Sundance Institute Theatre Program Playwrights Retreat at Ucross Fellows are:

Lemon Andersen
Lemon is a critically acclaimed artist who has been a pioneer in the spoken-word and theater scene for the past decade. He has the greatest number of appearances on HBO’s Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry, with eight performanc­es in six seasons. Lemon is an original cast member of Rus­sell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam on Broadway; the show took home the Tony Award for Special Theatrical Event in 2003 and the Drama Desk nomination for Unique Theatrical Ex­perience. He is currently touring County of Kings, his staged memoir, which was produced by Spike Lee and the Culture Project and premiered at the Public Theater. Anderson’s residency made possible, in part, by Seed Funds from Under The Radar Festival.

Eugenie Chan
Eugenie Chan is a fifth generation San Franciscan. Her work includes Kitchen Table; Bone to Pick; Diadem; Daphne Does Dim Sum; Rancho Grande; Emil, A Chinese Play; Novell-aah!; Pilgrim; Consent; Circus, and opera libretto for Snakewoman. Theatres that have produced or developed her plays include, The Public, Playwrights Horizons, Ma-Yi, Centenary Stage, Pan Asian Rep, and Perishable Theatre; on the West Coast: Cutting Ball Theater, Thick Description, Magic Theatre, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Northwest Asian American Theatre, Group Theatre, East West Players, and the Asian American Theater Company. She is a proud Resident Playwright at New Dramatists, the Playwrights Foundation and Cutting Ball Theater. Eugenie has also written political satire for the San Francisco Mime Troupe and screenplays which have been semifinalists for Nicholl and Cinestory Fellowships. She holds a BA in Literature from Yale and an MFA from NYU.

Ken Greller
Ken Greller’s plays include This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things (2010 Carol Weinberg Award for Best New Play, Baltimore Playwrights Festival), Ta-Da! (Colorado State University), Never, Never, Never (developed at the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower) and his own adaptation of Chekhov’s The Seagull (The Park School of Baltimore). His short plays have been seen at the Baltimore Theatre Project, The Kennedy Center Page-to-Stage Festival, Load of Fun Studios, and others. Ken is an alumnus of NTI TheatreMakers, the Kennedy Center Playwriting Intensive and The Park School of Baltimore, where his short film Indian Summer (dir. Blake Pruitt) will premiere this April. Originally from Baltimore by way of Teaneck, New Jersey, Ken lives in New York. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America.

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Branden is a Brooklyn-based playwright, dramaturg, and performer currently living in Berlin. His work has been seen at The Public Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, PS122, Soho Rep, New Dramatists, The Matrix Theatre, Theater Bielefeld in Bielefeld, Germany and the National Theatre in London and he is working on commissions from Lincoln Center Theater/LCT3 and Yale Repertory Theater. He is a former New York Theatre Workshop Playwriting fellow, an alum of the Soho Rep Writers/Directors Lab and Public Theater Emerging Writers Group, and a member of the Ars Nova Playgroup. His honors include a Princess Grace Award, the Dorothy Strelsin Playwriting Fellowship, and a fellowship in playwriting from the New York Foundation for the Arts. He also holds an M.A. in Performance Studies from NYU.

Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
Their current projects include A Christmas Story at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre, the musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach with dance troupe Pilobolus and director Graciela Daniele, and Dogfight, a new musical commissioned by Lincoln Center Theater. Their first show, Edges, has been produced throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, Asia and Europe and is licensed by Music Theatre International. Benj and Justin were 2007 winners of the Jonathan Larson Songwriting Award (the youngest winners in the foundation’s history) and served as series songwriters for Disney Channel’s four-time Emmy nominated series Johnny and the Sprites. They co-wrote If You Give a Pig a Pancake and Duck for President for Theatreworks USA, were listed as part of the “ 50 to Watch” up-and-coming writers by The Dramatist Magazine, and selected as 2007-2008 Dramatist Guild Fellows. The duo has played sold-out concerts at venues including The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., Joe’s Pub in New York City, and Australia’s Adelaide Cabaret Festival. They are proud graduates of The University of Michigan.

Tanya Saracho
Tanya was born in Sinaloa, México and is a resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists and Teatro Vista, a Goodman Theater Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Women and Gender, an Artistic Associate with About Face Theater, the founder of The Ñ Project and Founder and former Artistic Director of Teatro Luna. Her plays include: El Nogalar inspired by The Cherry Orchard opening in the Spring of 2011 at The  Goodman Theater, and commissioned by Teatro Vista;  an adaptation of The House on Mango Street for Steppenwolf Theater SYA (2009);  Our Lady of The Underpass with Teatro Vista (2009); Surface Day with Steppenwolf/CCHF (2008); Jarred (A Hoodoo Comedy) with Teatro Luna (2008); Kita y Fernanda at 16th Street Theatre (2008) and Quita Mitos with Teatro Luna (2006). Saracho is a recipient of an NEA Distinguished New Play Development Project Grant and winner of  the Ofner Prize given by the Goodman Theatre as well as a 3Arts Artists Award.

Roberta Levitow
Levitow is currently the Artistic Associate with the Sundance Institute Theatre Program’s Sundance Institute East Africa initiative. In 2004, she co-founded Theatre Without Borders,

Ucross Foundation
Founded in 1981, Ucross Foundation is an internationally known retreat for visual artists, writers, composers and choreographers working in all creative disciplines.  It provides living accommodations, studio space, uninterrupted time and the experience of the extraordinary High Plains landscape to competitively selected individuals.  Ucross supports individuals whose work reflects innovative thinking, a depth of creative exploration, and the potential for significant future accomplishments.  A number of residents have won recognition such as the Pulitzer Prize, the Tony Award, the National Book Award, the MacArthur Fellowship, the Guggenheim Fellowship and many other honors.  Through its Residency Program, art gallery, and associated activities, Ucross actively seeks to support an appreciation for vibrant human creativity and aims to cast a reflection into the future from the cultural mirror of our lives and times.

Sundance Institute
Founded by Robert Redford in 1981, Sundance Institute is a global nonprofit organization dedicated to the discovery and development of independent artists and audiences. Through its artistic development programs for directors, screenwriters, producers, composers and playwrights, the Institute seeks to discover, support, and inspire independent film and theatre artists from the United States and around the world, and to introduce audiences to their new work. The Institute promotes independent storytelling to inform, inspire, and unite diverse populations around the globe. Internationally recognized for its annual Sundance Film Festival, Sundance Institute has nurtured such projects as Born into Brothels, Trouble the Water, Son of Babylon, Amreeka, An Inconvenient Truth, Spring Awakening, Light in the Piazza and Angels in America.

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