Sundance Institute Playwrights Retreat At Ucross Begins Today Hosting Eight Artists

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Ucross, WY – The 2010 Sundance Institute’s Playwrights’ Retreat at Ucross begins today and will run through February 19, 2010. This unique residency program offers six playwrights and two theatre composers — both emerging and established artists — peer mentorship, professional growth, and a chance to explore unpressured creativity at an idyllic working ranch in northeastern Wyoming. The Playwrights Retreat, supported by the Sundance Institute Theatre Program, is made possible through the generosity of The Ucross Foundation.

“The Ucross lab represents early stage support for artists – support that is vital to launching a project. The physical beauty of the bucolic Wyoming landscape is a perfect backdrop to this retreat,“ said Philip Himberg, Producing Artistic Director of the Sundance Institute Theatre Program. “And unlike other labs offered through the Institute’s Theatre Program, there are no actors here: the emphasis is on writing the plays and composing music.  The Light in the Piazza, I Am My Own Life, Circle Mirror Transformation and The Good Negro all received initial support from the Institute through the Playwrights Retreat at Ucross.”

The artists selected for this season’s residency are John Bucchino (composer), Liz Flahive (playwright), Amanda Green (lyricist/composer), Heather McDonald (playwright), Winter Miller (playwright), Janine Nabers (playwright), Sheila Tousey  (playwright) and Doug Wright (playwright). The participating artists were selected and invited by Philip Himberg, Sundance Institute Theatre Program Producing Artistic Director. Mame Hunt, Sundance Artistic Associate, Ucross, will serve as Consulting Dramaturg for the residents.

“Every February since 2000, we have begun our residency year with a wonderful group of playwrights and composers selected by Philip Himberg and his colleagues at the Sundance Institute. We couldn’t think of a better, more inspiring way to begin the year,” said Sharon Dynak, President, Ucross Foundation. “We treasure the many friendships that we’ve made over the years through our collaboration with Sundance.”

The 2010 Sundance Institute Theatre Program Playwrights Retreat at Ucross Foundation Fellows are:

JOHN BUCCHINO (composer)
John Bucchino’s songs have been performed and recorded by renowned pop, theatre, cabaret and classical artists including Liza Minnelli, Barbara Cook, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Judy Collins, Yo Yo Ma, The Boston Pops and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Among his honors are The Johnny Mercer Songwriter Award, The ASCAP Foundation Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award, The Jonathan Larson Award, The Kleban Award and The Los Angeles Ovation Award. He has written scores for the musicals Urban Myths, Lavender Girl, Broadway’s A Catered Affair (winner of the Drama League Award for Best Musical, with a book by Harvey Fierstein), the revue It’s Only Life, and the Dreamworks animated film Joseph, King of Dreams As part of their Julie Andrews Collection, Harper Collins published a children’s book, based on John’s song, called Grateful, A Song of Giving Thanks which was awarded the Parents’ Choice Gold Award. For more information, please visit

LIZ FLAHIVE (playwright)
Liz Flahive’s plays have been produced and developed at Manhattan Theater Club, Ars Nova, Naked Angels, The Keen Company and Williamstown Theater Festival. Her first play, From Up Here, received the John Gassner Playwrighting Award from the Outer Critics Circle.  It was also nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play and a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play.  Liz is a founding member of Ars Nova’s Playgroup. 

AMANDA GREEN (lyricist/composer)
Amanda Green is an award-winning songwriter and performer. She is currently writing the music and lyrics for the new musical Hands On A Hardbody (based on the documentary film by S.R. Bindler) collaborating with Sundance alum and Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Doug Wright (I Am My Own Wife, Grey Gardens). The prestigious La Jolla Playhouse is commissioning the musical. She is also co-writing the lyrics for the musical Bring It On, collaborating with a Tony-Award winning team: composer Tom Kitt (Next To Normal), composer/lyricist Lin Manuel Miranda (In The Heights), bookwriter Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q) and director/choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler (In The Heights). It is being produced by Universal Picture Stage Productions and is slated to premiere in January 2011. Amanda is a graduate of Brown University, Circle In The Square’s Professional Actors Training Program and an alumnus of the BMI Lehman-Engel Musical Theatre Writing Workshop. 

Heather McDonald’s plays include An Almost Holy Picture, When Grace Comes In, Dream of a Common Language, Available Light, The Rivers and Ravines, Faulkner’s Bicycle and Rain and Darkness and have been produced on Broadway and Off and at such regional theatres as Arena Stage, The McCarter Theatre, Center Stage, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Signature Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, The Actors Theatre of Louisville – Humana Festival of New Plays, The La Jolla Playhouse and internationally in Italy, Spain, Portugal, England and Mexico. She has also written the libretto for an opera The End of the Affair, adapted from the novel by Graham Greene and commissioned and premiered at Houston Grand Opera and sold two screenplays: Rocket 88 and Walking After Midnight. Her work has been honored with a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize, three NEA Playwriting Fellowships, The First Prize Kesselring Award and was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. McDonald is Professor of Theater at George Mason University and Co-Artistic Director of Theater of the First Amendment.

WINTER MILLER (playwright)
Winter Miller is a playwright and periodic journalist. Or vice versa. The two collided when she traveled to Darfur with her mentor, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof to write a play. In Darfur premiered at The Public Theater, followed by a standing-room-only performance at their 1800-seat venue in Central Park, a first for a play by a woman. The play won the 2006 Two-Headed Challenge commission from the Guthrie and the Playwrights Center. Winter authored: The Penetration Play, Cake and Ice Cream, and Conspicuous, among others. She is at work on The Arrival, a comedy called Paternity, and the musical Something’s Wrong With Amandine. Her plays have been published and performed in London, Uganda, Canada and regionally. As a journalist, Winter once chased a tornado and spent a week at Graceland, although not simultaneously. She has written for The New York Times, Variety, New York Magazine and The Boston Globe. Winter has an MFA in playwriting from Columbia and graduated cum laude from Smith. She is a member of 13Playwrights. Her first job out of college was an NBC Page. She kept her uniform.

JANINE NABERS (playwright)
Janine Nabers is currently a Dramatist Guild playwriting Fellow (mentor Lynn Nottage) and a Member of the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab and Ars Nova Play Group. Recent honors: The Sam French New School for Drama Emerging Writer Award and The MacDowell Colony Residency (Spring 2010). Her play West of the Willow Tree was a finalist for: the Princess Grace Award, The Victory Gardens Theater Ignition playwriting Award, The Theodore Ward Playwriting Prize, Bay Area playwrights Festival and a winner of the 2009 New Professional Theater Playwriting Award. Her play When the Levee Broke (About the Great Flood of 1927) is currently being developed with the Workshop Theater Company in NYC. She is published by Sam French.


SHIELA TOUSEY (playwright)
Sheila Tousey has acted in films, television, Broadway, Off-Broadway and in regional theaters across the country. Sheila was Artist-in-Residence at the Public Theater in 2006 and 2007. In the fall of 2008 she was a visiting artist at Yale Drama School and the first recipient of the Lloyd Richards Acting Teacher Fellowship. At this year’s retreat at Ucross, Sheila will be working on Bottlehouse, a play (adaptation) based on the short stories and poems of Sam Shepard, in particular, Blinking Eye, a short story from Great Dream of Heaven. This project is in collaboration with Sam Shepard. Tousey has a Master of Fine Arts from the NYU Graduate Acting Program.

DOUG WRIGHT (playwright)
In 2004, playwright Doug Wright was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, a Tony Award for Best Play, the Drama Desk Award, a GLAAD Media Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, a Drama League Award, and a Lucille Lortel Award for his play I am my own Wife. In 2006, he received Tony and Drama Desk nominations for his book for the Broadway musical Grey Gardens.  Most recently he was represented on Broadway by Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Mr. Wright was recently cited with an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Tolerance Prize from the KulturForum Europa.  He is a member of the Writer’s Guild of America, East, the Screen Actor’s Guild, the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, and the PEN American Center, which supports dissident writers all across the globe.

Sundance Institute Theatre Program
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 Sundance Institute Theatre 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-developed work include: Passing Strange by Stew and Heidi Rodewald, which won the 2008 Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical and Grey Gardens by Doug Wright, Scott Frankel and Michael Korie. The Sundance Institute Theatre Program is a Constituent of Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for the American theatre

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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