Eight works by emerging or established writers will boast a world of characters "from cultures as disparate as Southeast Asia, Harlem, Colorado Springs and the Italian Renaissance," according to the not-for-profit nurturer of work under the umbrella of the Sundance Institute Theatre Program.
In addition to the plays that will rehearse daily with a company of actors, the Lab will host writer and performer Danny Hoch as this year's playwright-in-residence. These artist-fellows will be joined by two international observers from East Africa.
The eight new works were selected from an open submission pool of nearly 700 plays.
The eight projects selected for the 2007 Sundance Institute Theatre Laboratory include: The Good Negro by Tracey Scott Wilson, directed by Liesl Tommy. "Tracey Scott Wilson has placed a very human face on the 1960s American civil rights movement through personal and intimate stories that emerged from the political upheavals of the era. In a constantly shifting landscape — a trio of emerging black leaders must conquer their individual demons, the local KKK fights for its old way of life and everyday, black men and women must overcome their fears, all under the all watchful eye of the FBI."Ghostwritten by Naomi Iizuka, directed by Lisa Portes. "An American woman goes to Southeast Asia and strikes a bargain with a mysterious stranger. Twenty years later, she's become an acclaimed chef specializing in Asian cuisine with an adopted Vietnamese-born daughter and a life that is successful beyond her wildest dreams. Into her life the stranger from her past reappears collecting on an old debt. A retelling of the fable of Rumpelstiltskin, Ghostwritten explores the relationship between America and Southeast Asia, between the foreign and the familiar, between faraway and close to home, and what it means to come face to face with the ghosts from your past."Have You Seen Steve Steven? by Ann Marie Healey, directed by Anne Kaufman. "This new comic drama, set in the world of a Midwestern suburban housing development, teases our sense of reality as it explores issues of social alienation and denial. Kathleen, the young teen protagonist, must negotiate the demands of an adult world with her feelings of dread about growing up in an unstable and at times, absurd world. What begins as a fairy tale about the passage into adulthood careens into a twilight zone type nightmare — at once both funny and terrifying — that erodes the core set of beliefs that make up contemporary American society."Local Time 11 AM-1 PM by Noah Haidle, directed by Mark Brokaw. "Local Time takes its cue from the TV show '24,' albeit onstage without Kiefer Sutherland or terrorists. The entire project consists of 12 two-hour real-time plays that take place over 24 hours in the life of a town. Minor characters in one play become major ones in another. Local Time opens with two stories performed on opposite sides of the stage that do not appear to have much to do with one another. On one side a painter is going blind in real time as she paints her last painting; on the other, two fetuses, waiting to emerge from the womb, debate the consequences of being born."This Beautiful City by The Civilians, written and directed by Steve Cosson, music composed by Michael Friedman. "The Civilians' new project [which is under a working title] is a play with music, created from real interviews, which explores the Evangelical Christian movement and its unofficial U.S. capital. The project looks at Colorado Springs — home of Ted Haggard's influential New Life "Mega-church" as well as numerous and diverse other congregations — as a microcosm of issues facing the country as a whole and the shifting line between church and state, changing ideas about the nature of Christianity, and how different beliefs can either co-exist or conflict within a community."Untitled Lucrezia Borgia Project by Bradford Louryk and Rob Grace, directed by Alex Timbers. "Celebrated, reviled, and willfully misunderstood, the life of the bastard daughter of Pope Alexander VI has been fodder for historians and artists for five hundred years. This multimedia monodrama (devised and performed by Drama Desk Award-winner Bradford Louryk, written by Rob Grace) builds from a collection of letters written by Lucrezia Borgia herself to first deconstruct and then reconstruct the myth of one of history's most maligned women, and illuminates the multiplicity of our own complex identities."Wig Out by Tarell Alvin McCraney, directed by Michael Mayer. "The infamous drag house 'Diabolique' has issued a challenge: with nothing more than a day's notice all the drag houses in the Land must be ready and willing to defend the right to 'fabulousness' at the Cinderella ball, otherwise 'Diabolique' will crown itself queen of the Drag Ball Scene. But the 'House of Light' has other thoughts on its mind, and takes up the challenge. Mr. McCraney, a third-year Yale Drama School playwright, uses language to challenge the concepts of fidelity and loyalty – to one's heart and one's family."
Danny Hoch (Playwright in Residence) will be working on the text for his new play, A Word Is Born, a musical that traces the cultural and social history in 1970's New York City that led to the emergence of Hip-Hop. The piece is billed as "a musical prelude to rap culture, its generation and its word." *
As part of the Theatre Program's ongoing commitment to international collaboration, the Lab is hosting two East African theatre artists – Mumbi Kaigwa of Nairobi, Kenya, and Kenneth Kimuli of Kampala, Uganda – who will observe the workings of the Lab.
The Lab is under the artistic supervision of Philip Himberg. Creative advisers for this year's Lab include Dominic Cooke (artistic director, Royal Court Theatre-London), Gordon Davidson, (founding artistic director of the Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum), Emily Mann (artistic director, McCarter Theatre – Princeton, New Jersey) and Charlayne Woodard (playwright/performer).
The dramaturgy team, lead by Mame Hunt, will include Jocelyn Clark, Janice Paran and Otis Ramsey-Zöe. Meg Simon and Henry Russell are the casting directors for the 2007 Theatre Lab.