Sundance Theatre Lab Acting Company Includes Ari Graynor, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Uzo Aduba and More

By Adam Hetrick
July 9, 2013

Ari Graynor, Kendra Kassebaum, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Uzo Aduba and Tom Nelis are among the actors selected to participate in the Sundance Institute Theatre Lab, which began July 8 in Utah.



Supervised by Sundance artistic director Philip Himberg and producing director Christopher Hibma, the lab runs through July 28 at the Sundance Resort. The residency supports the work of new and established theatre writers who shape their developing works in a supportive environment with the aid of a professional director and cast.

In addition to Graynor (The Little Dog Laughed, "For a Good Time Call"), Kassebaum (Leap of Faith, Secondhand Lions), Keenan-Bolger (The Glass Menagerie, Peter and the Starcatcher), Aduba (Venice, Godspell) and Nelis (Passion Road Show), the acting company includes Maechi Aharanwa (Classical Theatre of Harlem), Tala Ashe, Brendan Averett, Jordan Baker (Suddenly Last Summer, Three Tall Women), David Cale (The History of Kisses, Palomino), Jackie Chung, Holley Fain (Harvey, Present Laughter), Andy Grotelueschen, William Jackson Harper, Charlie Hofheimer ("Mad Men"), Joaquina Kalukango (Hurt Village), Jenny O'Hara (Promises Promises, "Mystic River"), Kalani Queypo, Steven Rattazzi, Jeanine Serralles (Maple and Vine, Stunning), Maduka Steady (Amy's View) and Hadi Tabbal (The Hour of Feeling, Circumstance).

Seven East African theatre makers, who were part of the 2012 Theatre Stage Directors Workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, join the Lab community as well.

Here's a look at the works being developed this summer:

The Colby Sisters of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
By Adam Bock
Directed by Trip Cullman
"Meet the Colby sisters of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Five sisters, 'It girls' slightly past their time, living in New York City, trying to figure out how to put up with each other. Family. What are you going to do?"

The Fre
By Taylor Mac
Directed by Lisa Peterson
"This project is part of Mac's Kothornos Festival (four plays that will premiere separately but ultimately be performed in an all-day festival mirrored after the Greek Dionysia). It is an all-ages play written in the form of Old Comedy. It is the story of an intellectual aesthete, who is trapped inside a mud pit in the middle of a swamp, and his desperate attempt at escaping the swamp's fatuous inhabitants who call themselves, the Fre."

Really Really Really Really Really
By Jackie Sibblies Drury
Directed by Dan Rothenberg
"Sibblies Drury's play centers on two women (the Mother and the Girlfriend of a conceptual artist who has vanished) leaving them to sort through his overwhelming body of work. It is a piece about artists, legacy and photography that asks about what we try to leave behind, what we actually leave behind, and how we deal with being left."

Sojourners
By Mfoniso Udufia
"Abasiama Ekpeyoung came to America with high hopes for her arranged marriage and her future, intent on earning a degree and returning to Nigeria. But when her husband is seduced by America, she is forced to choose between the Nigerian or the American dream."

The Vagrant
By Mona Mansour
Directed by Mark Wing-Davey
"England/London 1982. Part three of a trilogy. As Arab émigré, Adham faces his last hurdle to secure a coveted permanent position at university, a wave of 'domestic terrorism' hits his chosen city, while at the same time, the family he's left behind in the Middle East faces their own escalating horrors. The life Adham has created threatens to unravel, destroying the political and personal equilibrium he's spent 15 years perfecting."

The Vengeance Project
By Paula Vogel
Directed by Rachel Taichman
"Vogel's latest play follows the circuitous path of Scholem Asch's play God of Vengeance from 1905 Warsaw to 1951 Stamford Connecticut. It chronicles a contentious work written by a young man during the Yiddish Renaissance: from the fights in the salon after its first reading in Warsaw to its triumph on Second Avenue New York—and onward to 1923 Broadway. What should be the pinnacle of the Yiddish theatre crossing over to the Great White Way becomes a spectacle of scandal: prosecution for obscenity, struggles over anti-Semitism, and oh yes, the first kiss between two women on the American stage. When does one fight to produce a manuscript? When does prudence dictate a manuscript stays in the drawer? And when should an author burn his/her own script?"

War is F**king Awesome
By Qui Nguyen
Directed by Liesl Tommy
"A politically incorrect action-comedy following the life of Unity Spencer, a young colonial girl imbued with immortality but cursed to fight in every American conflict from the American Revolution to present day and beyond."

The African artists working at the 2013 Sundance Lab include Habiba Issa, Aida Mbowa, Rogers Otieno, Wesley Ruzibiza, Freddy Sabimbona, Azeb Worku Sibane and Surafel Wondimu.

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