Sundance's 2008 Theatre Lab Picks Treem, Thomas, Greenidge, Kron, Baker, LeFranc, Picoult

News   Sundance's 2008 Theatre Lab Picks Treem, Thomas, Greenidge, Kron, Baker, LeFranc, Picoult The seven playwrights chosen to participate in the 2008 Sundance Institute Theatre Lab, a place to quietly develop new projects, have been announced.

Expected at the Sundance Resort in Utah July 7-27 are Annie Baker, Kirsten Greenidge, Lisa Kron, Dan LeFranc, Darci Picoult, Cori Thomas and Sarah Treem. They will be under the stewardship of Sundance artistic director Philip Himberg, and will work on their scripts with directors and dramaturgs.

According to the not-for-profit, "The Sundance Institute Theatre Lab offers writers and directors three full weeks in a creative environment in which to develop new work in a rehearsal setting with actors and support from a staff of dramaturgs. Fellows receive creative advisement, in addition to their transportation, lodging and meals. Part of the Institute's continuum of support includes pre-lab and post-lab consultations, at the playwrights' request."

The summer fellowship is the centerpiece of the Theatre Program's developmental programming and "represents Sundance's commitment to supporting emerging theatre artists and the creative growth of established artists by offering them an environment to explore new work without the constraints of the commercial marketplace," stated Himberg, Sundance Institute Theatre Program producing artistic director. "The genres of writing range from psychologically based naturalism, to mystery, to a comic romance involving an East Indian transgender and an exploration of the graphic novel onstage. It's an impressive array of originality and exciting new work surely headed to production."

The writers and directors will work with a respected staff of dramaturgs and creative advisors. Dramaturgs include Mame Hunt, Sundance Theatre associate artist; Morgan Jenness, dramaturg; and Janice Paran, Sundance Theatre associate artist. Creative advisors will be James Bundy, artistic director of Yale Repertory Theatre and Dean of Yale School of Drama; Moisés Kaufman, playwright and director (33 Variations, The Laramie Project); and Lynn Nottage, playwright (Intimate Apparel, Fabulation).

One additional dramaturg will be added. Meg Simon and Findley Davidson are the casting directors for the 2008 Theatre Lab. 2008 Sundance Institute Theatre Laboratory Fellows and Projects are:

  • Circle Mirror Transformation by Annie Baker, directed by Sam Gold, "follows five adults in an amateur acting class in a small Vermont town. The play is constructed as a series of scenes that combine actual acting exercises and interactions among the students and teacher." Baker's play Body Awareness debuts at the Atlantic Theatre Company in New York this May.
  • Bossa Nova by Kirsten Greenidge, director TBD, "tells the story of Dee Paradis, the daughter of a Black bourgeois family, whose sense of self begins to erode at the predominantly white girls college she attends. Raised to be an achiever, she unwittingly begins an affair with an eccentric white professor who wants to get closer to 'authentic' black experience. The play presents a poignant and fractured universe from the viewpoint of Dee's spiraling mind." Greenidge was a 2002 Sundance Institute Ucross Fellow. Bossa Nova is a commission of South Coast Repertory Theatre.
  • Untitled New Play by Lisa Kron, directed by Leigh Silverman, "takes a critical look at the sometimes presumptuous behaviors of liberal Americans, and the collective blind spots that define a culture. The characters include a couple, Danny and Ellen, Danny's lesbian sister, and her partner (a gay Republican), Judy, Ellen's friend who works in Africa and Amy, a woman Ellen meets and falls in love with." Kron came to the 2003 Sundance Institute Theatre Lab with Well, a play subsequently produced on Broadway and at several regional theatres.
  • Origin Story by Dan LeFranc, directed by Hal Brooks, "attempts to theatricalize the 'graphic novel.' The play begins in the town of Nowheresille, where an older couple has been brutally murdered, and where a comic book is the major motivation for the crime. Three teenagers try to piece together a series of events leading to the crime. The mysterious narrator is a character named 'Pronoun' — part supernatural, and part abused child." Director Hal Brooks staged Thom Paine Off-Broadway.
  • Lil's 90th by Darci Picoult, directed by Jo Bonney, in which "Lil is fulfilling a life-long dream of doing a solo cabaret show in honor of her 90th birthday. Her husband, Charlie, who may be suffering from signs of senile dementia, is caught in a scam — handing over all of the couple's life savings to a fake lottery, and neither his wife, nor their daughter, can stop him." Picoult was a 2005 Sundance Institute Screenwriting Fellow and currently teaches acting at NYU's Tisch School. She is best known for her one-woman show My Virginia.
  • Orphan Island by Sarah Treem, director TBD, "centers on three people who live in a lighthouse on a small Island off the coast of Maine: a disabled veteran, his oddly impaired female companion and his mysterious ex-girlfriend who shows up claiming amnesia. All three become ensnared in issues of environmental pollution, the mythologies of their lobster-centric community and their deceptions of each other." Treem had her major New York debut last season at Playwrights Horizons with A Feminine Ending. Orphan Island is a commission from South Coast Repertory Theatre.
  • When January Becomes Summer by Cori Thomas, directed by Chuck Patterson, "is a contemporary, urban comedy about love and acceptance. Jeron and Devaun, competitive homeboys and best friends, get caught up in two missions: combating global warming and protecting their neighborhood from an alleged homosexual predator. Jeron is the brains of the operation, constantly correcting Devaun's malapropisms and redesigning his call-to-action posters. Meanwhile, Nirmala who runs a convenience store, is dealing with her own personal issue: her transgendered (transitioning) brother Irfan is encouraging her to take up with Joe, a neighborhood sanitation worker." Thomas is a member in acting and playwriting at Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York City. *

    As part of the Theatre Program's ongoing commitment to international collaboration, the Lab is hosting two East African theatre artists — Eric Wainaina of Kenya, and Odile Gakire of Rwanda — who will observe the workings of the Lab.

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