The Sundance Theatre Laboratory begins its summer 2000 session July 5, offering nine plays the chance to bud and blossom in Sundance, UT, far from the madding, and often maddening, crowd.
The three-week lab, to July 23, offers directors, playwrights, choreographers, composers, librettists and composers the time and support to develop new theatre texts or to explore new approaches to existing scripts and adaptations, without the pressure of production.
Sundance Theatre Program, a division of the arts organization founded by actor-director Robert Redford, provides a "resource team" of creative advisors and an ensemble of professional actors to prepare the project for future production.
An ensemble of professional actors is also on hand. According to the Sundance web site, "the process is tailored to the project’s individual needs and stage of development, including text analysis, readings, blocking and movement rehearsals, music rehearsals, and private presentations to the assembled artistic community."
The works this year are: • Carson McCullers, a "fictive" account of the life of novelist McCullers, by novelist and non-fiction writer Sarah Schulman, directed by Craig Lucas (known for his own works, Prelude to a Kiss and The Dying Gaul).
• Hambone, South Carolina playwright Javon Johnson's character study of an African-American family in crisis, set in a South Carolina restaurant.
• Haunted Traveler, short story writer Barry Yourgrau's adaptation of his own book, refigured for the solo performance genre, about a man destined to wander to exotic locales.
• I Am My Own Wife, playwright Doug Wright's new work, about real-life German transvestite Charlotte Von Mahlsdorf, who, as a gay young man, escaped the death camps by passing as a woman and subsequently ran East Germany's only surviving Weimar cabaret.
• Kafka Songs, a new musical with libretto by Christopher Drobny, using Kafka short stories to explore his relationship with his family. Diane Paulus (The Donkey Show) directs the mostly sung through piece.
• Philoktetes, the Sophocles tale of the sick Greek hero abandoned by friends, adapted by John Jesurun (Chang in a Void Moon) and directed by Mexico City-based director Martin Acosta. The workshop will lead to a Spanish-language production in Mexico and an English-language production in New York City.
• Spring Awakening, a musical adaptation of Franz Wedekind's symbolist masterpiece about sexual desire and loss of innocence, with book and lyrics by Steven Sater (Carbondale Dreams) and music by Grammy-nominated rock composer Duncan Sheik ("Barely Breathing"). Michael Mayer (Uncle Vanya, Side Man) directs.
• 36 Views, a new work by Naomi Iizuka War of the Worlds), set in the world of New York dealers, asking, "What is real in love and art?" It weaves Kabuki theatre techniques and western acting styles. British director Mark Wing-Davey helms.
• Conjunto, a play being written in-residence by playwright Oliver Mayer (Blade to the Heat). The work explores the period in California history when Chicano farmers temporarily took control of the land owned by Japanese-Americans, when they were forced into internment camps.
Among works that began at Sundance and went on to full production are Moises Kaufman's The Laramie Project, Regina Taylor's Oo-Bla Dee, Nilo Cruz's Two Sisters and a Piano, Emily Mann's Meshuga, and Mabou Mines' Animal Magnetism.
About 80 percent of lab-supported work goes on to production, according to Sundance Theatre Program artistic director Philip Himberg.
There is an open submission policy for scripts and Sundance also actively seeks scripts. For more information about Sundance, visit the web site at www.sundance.org.
-- By Kenneth Jones