Sundance Institute Announces Projects For Pilot Theatre Labs At MASS MoCA And On Governors Island

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Los Angeles, CA — Sundance Institute announced today the projects chosen to participate in its two new Theatre Labs at MASS MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) and on Governors Island, to be held in March and June of this year, respectively. Under the artistic direction of Philip Himberg, Producing Artistic Director of the Sundance Institute Theatre Program, the Labs will provide these projects with guidance in the development of new work for the stage.

The pilot Labs were created because of a temporary loss of space at the Sundance Resort in Sundance, Utah, due to renovation. The new Labs will serve as many playwrights as in previous years.

“The current season represents a departure from our history and is unquestionably one of Sundance Institute’s most innovative,” said Himberg. “The Lab at MASS MoCA is a fascinating collaboration between Sundance Institute and a major cultural institution that shares our values. The Lab on Governors Island is our first non-residency program, allowing local writers to work in a retreat setting during the day and return to their homes each night. We expect to learn a great deal about how best to support these artists as we take a step away from the familiarity of our fantastic Utah home and collaborate with new partners.”

This program will run March 28 – April 11, 2010 at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Mass.

A Small Fire by Adam Bock; Directed by Trip Cullman
A Small Fire asks us: When life hands you a big change, how do you respond? Do you try to return to the way things were, or do you take a chance and change even more? People love and hate change, because it demands that we be clear about who we are, and who we want to be.

Bwagamoyo by Shailja Patel; Directed by Liesl Tommy
Bwagamoyo charts a voyage from colonial Zanzibar to Kenya’s 2008 post-election violence, by way of the male body. Drawing on the history of the artist’s father, born and raised in Zanzibar, and Patel’s personal involvement with Kenya’s post-election crisis, Bwagamoyo shows how the architecture of Empire is codified on the bodies of men. How the stories of our bodies are intimately mirrored in the larger Body Politic, and our national histories. Bwagamoyo is the second work in Patel’s four-part opus, Migritude.

Out of Orbit by Jennifer Maisel; Directed by Jackson Gay
A mother and her teenage daughter. The Jet Propulsion Lab Scientist and the underachiever. Sara lives on Mars time, spearheading the Mars Rover Expedition, visiting a planet she cannot touch, while her daughter, Lis, on earth time, falls under the spell of the cyber-cypher Edgar2330. Sometimes it takes being worlds apart for an exploring woman and a longing-to-be-explored girl to find each other in our increasingly disconnected universe.

Dramaturgical support at the Sundance Institute Theatre Lab at MASS MoCA will be provided by Shirley Fishman, Director of Play Development, La Jolla Playhouse and Janice Paran, Sundance Institute Artistic Associate.

In addition, the Institute is pleased to announce John Kelly as the 2010 Sundance Institute Time Warner Storytelling Fellow in Residence at MASS MoCA. John will be writing and editing The Escape Artist, a collision of music, video and story. In a studio dubbing recording session for cinematic re-enactments of the paintings of Caravaggio, a singer hired to lay down the tracks channels the characters that populate the paintings, encounters unexpected technical difficulties, and reveals a turbulent personal history of his own.

Governors Island
This program will run June 1 – 12, 2010 on Governors Island in New York City.

Civilization by Jason Grote; Directed by Daniel Aukin
The filming of an ironically racist TV commercial kicks off this fierce burlesque of America’s love/hate obsession with food. A feral pig on a rampage, mass choreography, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson using hip-hop to sell snacks, auto-erotic asphyxiation, chaos theory, and the search for love, meaning and hope during the 2008 presidential election – all braided together to devastating effect. Civilization is a commission of Clubbed Thumb, with support from the NY State Council on the Arts.

Look, We Are Breathing by Laura Jacqmin; Directed by Mark Brokaw
Those who die young are mourned for their lost potential. But what if Mike, a high school hockey player who gets drunk and crashes his car before the play begins, never showed any? His mother Alice just isn’t sad about his death. Neither is Mike’s AP English teacher, Leticia, or Caylee, the girl who’s had a crush on Mike for years. After all, Alice didn’t know her son at all; Leticia hated Mike on sight; and after an uncomfortable hookup, Caylee realized that the boy she loved might have died a long time ago. As the three women try to figure out who Mike was and who he might have grown into, they realize that in order to feel grief, they might have to acknowledge that they could have been wrong about him.

When Last We Flew by Harrison Rivers; Directed by Colette Robert
“Before we were human. We were birds. And. We. Were. Magnificent!” Flying isn’t easy. Especially when you don’t have wings. But Paul, Natalie and Marian are about to discover that with a little faith, a little love, and a whole lot of help from Ellen McLaughlin, flight may not be as impossible as it seems.

Dramaturgical support for the Sundance Institute Theatre Lab on Governors Island will be announced later this spring.

Sundance Institute Theatre Program
The Sundance Institute Theatre Program is a program of the Sundance Institute. Through its developmental activities at the Sundance Institute Playwright’s Retreat at Ucross, the Sundance Institute Theatre Lab at White Oak, Sundance Institute East Africa, and two new pilot theatre programs at Mass MoCA and Governors Island, the Program identifies and assists emerging theatre artists, contributes to the creative growth of established artists, and encourages and supports the development of new work for the stage. Under the guidance of Producing Artistic Director Philip Himberg, more than 85% of the work coming out of the Program’s labs has found professional production at theatres across the United States, Mexico and Europe. Recent productions of Sundance Institute-developed work include: Passing Strange by Stew and Heidi Rodewald, which won the 2008 Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical, Circle Mirror Transformation by Annie Baker and The Lily’s Revenge by Taylor Mac.

Sundance Institute
Founded by Robert Redford in 1981, Sundance Institute is a not-for-profit organization that fosters the development of original storytelling in film and theatre, and presents the annual Sundance Film Festival. Internationally recognized for its artistic development programs for directors, screenwriters, producers, film composers, playwrights and theatre artists, Sundance Institute has nurtured such projects as Angels in America, Spring Awakening, Boys Don’t Cry, Sin Nombre, Born into Brothels and Trouble the Water.

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