|Dates||July 6–25, 2020|
|Size of Lab||Up to eight Projects|
|Eligibility||Playwrights, directors, composers, and librettists|
|Description||The Theatre Lab welcomes theatre artists from the United States and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Participants in the 20-day lab are selected through an open application process. For theatre artists applying from Arabic-speaking countries, projects may be submitted in Arabic, English, or French. Up to eight projects will be selected, half from the U.S. and half from the Middle East and North Africa. Projects including plays, musicals, dance theatre, performance art, and solo projects, on any topic, are all eligible. The lab is not a production lab, but rather offers a rare opportunity to focus on unfinished new work needing time and space in which to experiment, rewrite, reconceive, and take artistic risks. Sundance Institute will continue to champion dramaturgy, community, and cultural exchange as we evolve the lab to a digital format. See below for application guidelines and answers to your FAQs.|
2020 Theatre Lab Application Guidelines
July 6–25, 2020 | Hosted digitally
Deadline to Apply: November 1, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. EST
In 2020, the Theatre Lab will support theatre artists from the United States and Arabic-speaking Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries. This 20-day residency will utilize actors in workshop. Participants in the Theatre Lab will be selected through an open application process. Plays about all topics and in any genre are eligible for consideration.
We seek both U.S.-based and artists from Arabic-speaking countries who yearn to reflect on their work and to embrace a community of world artists. The lab is not a place to simply rehearse your text or to polish what you feel is a nearly completed draft. The lab serves as “the space-in-between,” a step after the conception of a new work and before its production, by offering a rare opportunity to experiment, rewrite, reconceive and take artistic risks within the context of an intimate peer-level artistic community.
We will select up to eight projects for the 2020 Theatre Lab, half of which will be from the U.S. and half from Arabic-speaking countries. Sundance Institute will continue to champion dramaturgy, community, and cultural exchange as we evolve the lab to a digital format.
- Playwrights, directors, composers, ensembles, performance artists, or choreographers from the United States and from Arabic-speaking countries based in the Middle East, North Africa, and elsewhere are welcome to apply.
- Theatre-makers creating in English and Arabic are encouraged to apply, but artists from Arabic-speaking countries creating in English or French can be considered too.
- Submitted work cannot have been previously produced, but may have received prior workshops or readings.
- Commissioned work is eligible for submission; however, playwrights must obtain written permission from their commissioning organization prior to applying.
- Playwrights may suggest a director, but Sundance Institute retains the right to make final decisions on personnel. If you do not have a director attached to your project, please note that Sundance Institute will help to match you up with a director if your play is selected.
- Director-generated projects are also welcome.
- Sundance Institute is interested in both established and emerging theatre artists, as well as artists making a transition from areas outside of theatre
NOTE: Artists may only submit one application. Previous applicants may re-apply, but not with previously submitted material.
All submissions – generally between 700 and 900 annually – are read in their entirety and evaluated by qualified readers from around the world. Our staff narrows the field to the top 25-30 submissions, which are then evaluated by a curatorial team. Shortlisted applicants might be invited to an in-person or online interview before the Director & curatorial team make final selections and extend personal invitations to the Lab.
Sundance Institute looks for original, compelling human stories that reflect the independent vision of the theatre artist. We are interested in supporting a diverse and daring group of theatre artists who tell unique stories, present material in a new form, or conceptualize existing material with an innovative vision.
NOTE: All applicants must be available for the entire duration of each Lab.
How to Apply
Complete the online application form and upload your materials electronically. Materials to include:
- Script Draft of your play or musical (unprotected Word or PDF document)
- Please review General Script Formatting Guidelines before submitting your play
- Artistic Statement (If applying as a playwright/director team, Sundance Institute requires a statement from both the playwright and director)
- Describe the status of the project, including prior readings and workshops, and what you hope to accomplish at the Lab. Include comments on the content, style of the piece, and the team's objectives for the workshop.
- Bios for each collaborator
- Letter of permission from a commissioning organization (if applicable)
- $35 non-refundable application processing fee payable by credit card (waived for applicants from the Middle East & North Africa)
NOTE: All applications must be submitted online. Please follow the instructions of the language in which you are applying (English, Arabic, or French).
If you do not have access to the Internet, please call the Theatre Program at +1-646-822-9568 and we will work with you to submit your materials using alternative methods. Please make every effort to utilize the online application as it ensures the safe delivery of your application and supports the Sundance Institute’s environmental stewardship
The application will open on October 1, 2019. The window of submission will be October 1 - November 1, 2019. The deadline for submission is November 1, 2019 at 5:00pm EST. Applicants will be notified in early April.
Common Questions / FAQ
1.What are the dates of the 2020 Theatre Lab?The dates for the 2020 Theatre Lab are July 6-25, 2020.
2. Who can apply?Established and emerging playwrights, directors, composers, ensembles, performance artists, or choreographers from the U.S. and Arabic-speaking Middle East & North Africa countries may apply to the Lab. We also welcome applications from artists making a transition from areas outside of theatre.
3. What type of projects are accepted?Plays, musicals, dance theatre, performances and solo projects are all eligible. Submitted projects must be original works.
4. How are projects selected?All submissions – generally between 700 and 900 annually – are read in their entirety and evaluated by qualified readers from around the world. Our artistic staff narrows the field to the top 25-30 submissions, which are then evaluated by an Advisory Committee comprised of established playwrights, dramaturgs, and directors. The Artistic Director makes the final selections and extends personal invitations to join the Lab.
5. What does Sundance look for?Sundance looks for projects that reflect originality and an independent vision, and for artists who are interested in genuinely exploring their material. We're particularly interested in provocative new work that looks at familiar topics in an unfamiliar way. Once we have established that a project warrants our interest, we look for clues that applicants have strongly identified their objectives in the supporting materials-- both long-term and in the context of the Lab. Some projects aren't suited to a highly collaborative Lab environment, and projects that only need a polish before they're ready for productions are not for us. We aspire to diversity and balance in our selections, and cross-over artists, ensemble work, political plays, and projects that defy categorization have all found a home at Sundance. Theatre-makers are welcomed to apply with any and all topics and in any genre.
6. Do you accept international submissions?In terms of international submissions, our focus is now on applications from Middle East and North Africa artists who are creating new works in Arabic (classical or dialect). Theatre-makers from Arabic-speaking countries who are working in English or French can be considered too, and we welcome international submissions by artists from Arabic-speaking countries, currently residing and working in Europe.
7. What is an artistic statement?Your artistic statement should include a brief description of what you’re writing and why, and should tell us what your goals are for this development process. What specific questions do you have about your play and what do you hope to accomplish by coming to the Lab? We would like to see tangible artistic objectives.
8. Do you accept work in foreign languages?Yes. Artists should write in the language in which they ‘dream’ - in which they feel most comfortable. Traditionally, Sundance’s main working language has been English. If selected, translations of work will be discussed for each project. Projects in Arabic (classical and all dialects) are encouraged, Middle East & North Africa artist working in English and French can be considered too.
9. Do I have to be at the Lab for the entire time? Does my creative team members need to be at the lab the entire time?Yes. If your project is selected, all core creative team members must be available for the Lab for its entirety. However, in our digital format we can be flexible depending on the artist’s needs.
12. Can I receive feedback on my submission?No. Sundance Institute does not provide feedback on submitted projects.
13. I submitted last year, but have done major rewrites and the project is much different. Can I submit again?No. We do not accept projects that have been previously submitted, and we do not make exceptions to this rule.
14. I am a playwright, but I don't have a director attached to my project, can I still submit?Yes. It is not a problem if you do not have a director. If selected, we will work with you to find a director that will best complement your project. Please note, that if a director is already attached to your project, Sundance reserves the right to approve of your choice.
15. What if a playwright or a director is attached to more than one project?Playwrights may only be attached to one project. A director can be attached to more than one project. If we accept more than one project that a director is attached to, the director will have to choose a single project to work on. The director cannot work on more than one project at the Lab.
16. Can I send in a hard copy of my play, instead of submitting it electronically?We require everyone to submit their projects electronically. We understand that some applicants may not have reliable access to the internet. If this is the case, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for an alternative submission process.
17. Do you accept “blind” submissions? (a “blind” submission is a submission where the creator’s name does not appear on the script)No, we do not ask that scripts be blind.
18. My project is a musical, do I have to submit the music tracks electronically?There is a very strong preference that everything be submitted electronically, in accordance with Sundance’s environmental awareness and it makes it much easier for our readers.
19. Can you waive the application fee?Unfortunately we cannot waive the application fee for US applicants. The fee is waived for applicants from the Middle East & North Africa.
20. Must I have the rights to the song, the book or other materials that my play or musical is based on?Yes. If you are including any materials for which you are not the writer/creator, you must obtain the rights prior to submitting. If you do not have the rights, we cannot accept your project.
21. What if my play is commissioned by another theatre?We do accept plays that are commissioned by other organizations; however, you must obtain written permission from the commissioning organization stating that they support your application.
22. Can I bring my own dramaturg?In most cases, no. Sundance provides dramaturgical support that is customized to each individual project, and once a project is accepted into the Lab, there will be an opportunity to discuss what model is best for your play. In some cases Sundance would consider a dramaturg who “comes with” a project, particularly if that dramaturg is one of the generative artists. We tend to discourage the practice of including dramaturgs employed by institutions that have commissioned or committed to a future production of a play.
Sundance is a time for the generative artists to explore their impulses as independently as they can, and not in tandem with the needs of a future production. In the case of work that is commissioned or committed to production, we have done well with a process whereby the Lab dramaturg "passes the baton" to the dramaturg at the producing institution.
23. Can I bring my own actors?Sundance will work with each selected project on identifying the best actors for your project. If you have been working with specific actors during the development of your project, and you feel they are integral to the creation of the piece (if the piece was written for a specific performer, for instance, or devised with its actors), please indicate this in the Other Collaborators section of your application.
24. What if my submitted project has already been produced?We can only accept projects that have NOT been produced. A produced project is defined as a project that has been reviewed by critics. We do accept plays that have had a previous workshop, or other developmental opportunities.
25. Can I submit a play that is not completed?Yes. We accept plays in various stages of development. We do recommend that you submit more than just an outline of the project. An actual draft—even it it’s incomplete-- is most helpful in evaluating your project. If you are submitting a partial draft, we encourage you to also include an outline of how you think the play will end.
26. Does Sundance produce my project after the Lab?No. Sundance only provides developmental support. Sundance is not a producer and it not committed to producing your project at any point after the Lab. Sundance will, however, have a conversation with each alumni project about the continuing life of your project.
30. Who do I contact with additional questions?