Sundance Institute Begins 2013 Playwrights Retreat at Ucross Foundation

Radha Blank | Joy Harjo | Michael John LaChiusa Justin Levine | Matthew Paul Olmos | Stephen Wadsworth

New York, NY — The Sundance Institute Theatre Program has begun the 2013 Playwrights Retreat at Ucross Foundation. The 13th annual writing colony at the 20,000-acre working cattle ranch outside of Sheridan, Wyo. takes place through February 22 and provides a supportive environment for artists to create new work and receive guidance and reactions to it at an early stage. Under the supervision of Philip Himberg, Artistic Director of the Theatre Program, and Producing Director Christopher Hibma, the Playwrights Retreat is made possible through the generosity of Ucross Foundation.

Notable artists and projects supported through the Playwrights Retreat program include A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder by Steven Lutvak and Robert L. Freedman (Hartford Stage Company and La Jolla Playhouse), Song for the Disappeared by Tanya Saracho (Goodman Theater, Chicago), ToasT by Lemon Anderson (Under The Radar), and Appropriate by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (Humana Festival).

As previously announced, the six artists selected for the 2013 Sundance Institute Playwrights Retreat at Ucross Foundation are:

Radha Blank
Ms. Blank is a writer for stage and screen. Last fall, the World Premiere of her play SEED received eight 2012 Audelco nominations including Best Playwright. Plays include HappyFlowerNail, American Schemes, SEED, nannyland, Casket Sharp and Kenya, her first solo show. Awards and Fellowships include New York Foundation for the Arts Artists Fellowship, Nickelodeon’s Writers Fellowship, The Public Theater’s Emerging Writers Group Fellowship, The National Endowment for the Arts New Play Development Award and the 2011 Helen Merrill Award Emerging Playwright Award. For 2012-13, commissions include 32 To Base, a play about immigrant cabbies in the South Bronx for EPIC Theater Ensemble’s Sunshine Series as well as Rice and Chicken Parts, a play about restaurant workers. Her latest play, Confections, explores how baking masks a mother and daughter’s dark secret in a small North Carolina town and is part of a trilogy based on the United States eugenicists movement. Her solo show, HappyFlowerNail, about a Korean-owned nail salon in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, will be presented in The Public Theater’s 2013 New Works Now Festival.

Joy Harjo
Joy was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and is a member of the Mvskoke Nation. She has won a Native American Music Award (NAMMY) for Best Female Artist of the Year. She performs solo as well as with her band, The Arrow Dynamics. She has appeared on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. Most recently she performed We Were There When Jazz Was Invented at the Chan Centre at UBC in Vancouver, BC and appeared at the San Miguel Writer’s Conference in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Her one-woman show, Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light, which features guitarist Larry Mitchell, premiered in Los Angeles in 2009. Her seven books of poetry include such titles as How We Became Human- New and Selected Poems and She Had Some Horses. Her awards include the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas, and the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. She was recently awarded 2011 Artist of the Year from the Mvskoke Women’s Leadership Initiative and a Rasmuson US Artists Fellowship. She is a founding board member and treasurer of the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation. Soul Talk, Song Language, Conversations with Joy Harjo was recently released from Wesleyan University Press. Crazy Brave, a memoir is her newest publication from W.W. Norton.

Michael John LaChiusa
The Public: See What I Wanna See, The Petrified Prince, First Lady Suite. His other musicals include: Queen of the Mist (2012 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical); Los Otros, (lyrics and book by Ellen Fitzhugh); Bernarda Alba; The Highest Yellow (book by John Strand); Little Fish; The Wild Party (Tony nominations for Best Score, Best Book, with George C. Wolfe); Marie Christine, (Tony nominations for Best Score and Best Book): Chronicle of a Death Foretold (Tony nomination for Best Book, with Graciela Daniele and Jim Lewis); Hello Again; and Break/Agnes/Eulogy for Mister Hamm. His operas include Send (who are you? I love you), Houston Grand Opera, and Lovers and Friends (Chautauqua Variations) Lyric Opera of Chicago. Mr. LaChiusa is an Obie-Award winner and the recipient of the Gilman-Gonzalez-Falla Musical Theatre Award. He is a composer for The Wonder Pets, for which he received two Emmy Awards and has written special material for Neil Patrick Harris and Hugh Jackman for the Tony Awards and Hugh Jackman on Broadway.

Justin Levine
Writing: Bonfire Night (Book, Music & Lyrics), Tell Me Tomorrow (Music & Lyrics), Jump Jim Crow (Music & Lyrics), Naked Radio (Music), Pepper and Sam: Death by Vaudeville (Co-created with Salty Brine). Musical Direction/Orchestration: Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (Broadway/Public), Here Lies Love (Public/Mass MoCA), Murder Ballad (MTC/NYSF), Robber Bridegroom (Roundabout), Love’s Labors Lost (Public/WTF), Mo(or)town (Choreographer: Doug Elkins), Like Water for Chocolate (Sundance Institute Theatre Lab).

Matthew Paul Olmos
Originally from Los Angeles, Matthew is the 2012 Princess Grace Awardee in Playwriting and was named as the inaugural recipient of the La MaMa e.t.c.’s 2012-13 Ellen Stewart Emerging Playwright Award. He is a 2012-13 New York Theatre Workshop Fellow, 2012-13 Primary Stages Dorothy Strelsin New American Writer’s Group playwright, 2011-12 terraNOVA Groundbreaker Playwright, and 2011-12 Brooklyn Arts Exchange Resident Artist. He was previously a Sundance Institute Time Warner Storytelling Fellow for his play i put the fear of méxico in’em, and a two-time Resident Artist at Mabou Mines/Suite and BBC International Playwriting Top Prize of the Americas awardee for his play the nature of captivity. Also a Ensemble Studio Theatre lifetime member, No Passport member, National Endowment for the Arts New Play Development reader, New York Innovative Awards judge, and a core staff member at the Lark Play Development Center. M.F.A. Playwriting, The Actor’s Studio Drama School (now New School for Drama). i put the fear of méxico in’em world-premieres at Teatro Vista in Chicago in November 2012, and is being published by Samuel French and NoPassport Press; and part one of his 3-play cycle so go the ghosts of méxico world premieres at La MaMa e.t.c. in April 2013.

Stephen Wadsworth
Stephen’s translations of three plays by Marivaux brought that playwright to a wide American public in the 1990s. He also translated Goldoni’s Mirandolina and made a landmark translation of Molière’s Don Juan, working from new sources, for which the French government named him a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters. He is currently at work on a new translation of the three Figaro plays of Beaumarchais. He has translated operas by Monteverdi, Handel, Mozart and Udo Zimmermann, written the story for Daron Hagen’s opera Amelia, and co-authored the opera A Quiet Place with Leonard Bernstein. As a director he has addressed the classics—Shakespeare, Goldoni, Shaw, Wilde and Coward, as well as his Molière and Marivaux translations—and contemporary works by Guare, Henley, Anna Deavere Smith and McNally (Master Class recently on Broadway and in the West End). He is one of the world’s leading opera directors, including a famous staging of Wagner’s massive Ring cycle, which plays again in summer 2013. He is a sought-after dramaturg, a script-reader for the Sundance Institute Theatre Lab, a Harman-Eisner Artist in Residence at the Aspen Institute. He is The James S. Marcus Faculty Fellow at The Juilliard School—his post-graduate advanced-training institute for singers there is the only intensive acting program for singers in the world—and Head of Drama for the Met’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.

The Sundance Institute Theatre Program is made possible by generous support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Time Warner Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, Cindy Harrell Horn and Alan Horn, and the LUMA Foundation.

Sundance Institute Theatre Program
The Sundance Institute Theatre Program is one of the nation’s leading nonprofit organizations that champions theatre artists and their plays as a source of vital, challenging and diverse ideas in society. Through the guiding principles of risk-taking, experimentation and freedom of expression, the Theatre Program is the recognized leader in providing developmental laboratories rarely available to contemporary artists. The Theatre Program has been a core component of Sundance Institute since Robert Redford founded the Institute in 1984, and is led by Artistic Director Philip Himberg and Producing Director Christopher Hibma. Titles such as Spring Awakening, An Iliad, I Am My Own Wife, The Good Negro, Circle Mirror Transformation, Passing Strange, Grey Gardens, Crowns and Marie Antoinette have gone from Theatre Program Labs to production from coast to coast and internationally, garnering multiple Pulitzers, Tonys, Obies and other recognition. The Theatre Program’s East Africa initiative is the only professional program of its type on the continent, offering Labs, cross-cultural exchange, mentorship and exposure to artists in six African countries.

Sundance Institute
Founded by Robert Redford in 1981, Sundance Institute is a global, nonprofit cultural organization dedicated to nurturing artistic expression in film and theater, and to supporting intercultural dialogue between artists and audiences. The Institute promotes independent storytelling to unite, inform and inspire, regardless of geo-political, social, religious or cultural differences. Internationally recognized for its annual Sundance Film Festival and its artistic development programs for directors, screenwriters, producers, film composers, playwrights and theatre artists, Sundance Institute has nurtured such projects as Born into Brothels, Trouble the Water, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Amreeka, An Inconvenient Truth, Spring Awakening, Light in the Piazza and Angels in America. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

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.

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