A new play by Pulitzer Prize-winner Beth Henley and a new work by Moisés Kaufman and the Tectonic Theatre Company punctuate the 2004 Sundance Institute Theatre Laboratory in Utah this summer.
In addition to Crimes of the Heart writer Henley's Ridiculous Fraud, directed by Lisa Peterson, and Tectonic's Variations on a Theme (Beethoven as refracted through the creators of The Laramie Project), the three-week 2004 Sundance workshop will include international theatre artists — a Polish work and a British work — for the first time.
The 2004 Sundance Institute Theatre Lab runs July 5-25, in Sundance, Utah. "The annual Lab is a three-week workshop which offers a diverse group of theatre artists the time, space, and support to develop new theatre work or to explore new approaches to existing scripts, without the pressure of production," according to the announcement.
The seven projects selected for the 2004 Sundance Institute Theatre Lab are:
After the War, written by Philip Kan Gotanda and directed by Carey Perloff, "chronicles the story of a couple struggling to keep their marriage alive in an America changed by World War II. Chet Okamura, a former jazz musician, and his wife, Lillian, return home from the Japanese internment camps to find a lively African-American music scene amidst their San Francisco Japantown neighborhood. It is in this tumult of changing social boundaries and newfound musical expressions, that Chet and Lillian learn the fragile nature of human compassion."
Dreambody (working title) written and directed by Krzysztof Warlikowski, "a new piece adapted from the writings of Arnold Mindell to be directed by Warsaw-based theatre artist, Krzysztof Warlikowski. Utilizing case studies and other text from Dr. Mindell's work, Warlikowski and his actors will create a play that addresses the body's role in revealing the unconscious. Drawing from Grimm's fairy tales, as well as other sources, Warlikowski explores the field of mind/body connection."
Macbeth Quintet (working title) directed by Travis Preston, and music by Vinny Golia, "is a solo performance of Shakespeare's text conceived by actor Stephen Dillane (who will be at the Lab) and director Travis Preston. The piece will be accompanied by a quartet of musicians. In embodying the entirety of Macbeth, Dillane becomes a vessel for the myriad characters of Shakespeare's tragic masterpiece and the text becomes a 'score' which is played by the performer — his body and voice possessed by constantly shifting manifestations of Macbeth's consciousness."
Ridiculous Fraud, written by Beth Henley and directed by Lisa Peterson, "is a comedy set in New Orleans. The play deals with the bonds and rivalries between three grown brothers and their survival strategies in the shadow of their father who has been convicted of fraud and is serving time in the state penitentiary. The play inquires as to the nature of fraud and honor, and celebrates the passion, fragility, and ridiculousness of human nature."
Travelogues: Passing Strange, by composer and poet Stew, "began as an evening of music and spoken work" in Joe's Pub at The Public Theater in New York. "It is the story of a young man whose search for belonging takes him from the African-American middle class culture in various bohemias. The piece incorporates a live band, dance, video, slides and song to explore the notions of black authenticity, the double outsider status of black bohemians, and the definition of home."
Variations on a Theme (working title), by Moisés Kaufman and the Tectonic Theatre Project, "explores the circumstances and creative process of Ludwig von Beethoven's 'Diabelli Variations.' In 1819 Vienna, a music publisher circulated a waltz of his own making to several composers asking each of them to compose a variation on his theme. Although almost completely deaf and initially uninterested in the piece, Beethoven became obsessed with the theme and finally composed thirty-three variations on it — his largest work for solo piano. The play is an exploration of this composition and the ideas that shaped it."
World Thrown Tizzy, written by Joe Hortua and directed by Les Waters, "deals with 'authorship' and its relationship to aging, death and loneliness. Three actors play nine different characters. The play opens with three retired immigrants on a beach, obsessing over the memory of a famous soccer game. In the second scene, three Hollywood players discuss a book they wish to adapt — a story which appears to be about the men in the first scene. The final act represents the final filmed version of the book." "The 2004 Sundance Theatre Laboratory Fellows represent both emerging and established writers for the stage, and this year our fellows include celebrated international theatre artists for the first time," said Philip Himberg, producing artistic director, Sundance Institute Theatre Program. "We're looking forward to the collaboration between the Lab's international and American fellows, and anticipate that the unique diversity of theatrical styles will make this years's Lab particularly dynamic."
"These seven projects join a distinguished group of plays supported by the Theatre Program, many of which have gone on to garner critical and popular acclaim," Lab artistic director Robert Blacker said in a statement. "This year's award season was highlighted by the success of I Am My Own Wife, developed at the 2000 Theatre Lab, which was honored with the Pulitzer Prize and two Tony Awards, including Best Play. Seven other artists received Obie Awards for their Lab supported projects."
At the Lab, Fellows will focus on issues and challenges specific to their works-in-progress while working with a team of creative advisors and dramaturges. The creative advisors for this year's Lab include: Zelda Fichandler, Chair of the Graduate Acting Program at NYU/Tisch School of the Arts; playwright Marsha Norman ('night, Mother; The Secret Garden); Oskar Eustis, artistic director of Providence's Trinity Repertory Company and dramaturgs Janice Paran, Eric Rosen and Mame Hunt. Meg Simon is the casting advisor for the 2004 Lab.