A Look at the Sundance Playwrights Retreat

PlayBlog   A Look at the Sundance Playwrights Retreat
Annually the Sundance Institute invites theatre writers to escape the pressures of city life and participate in their 18-day Wyoming retreat at Ucross. The 2011 lab, where writers are currently developing and testing new material in a supportive environment, will wrap up Feb. 25.

Among the theatre artists crafting their latest projects are playwrights Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (Neighbors), Theresa Rebeck (Mauritius), and the songwriting team of Justin Paul and Benj Pasek (Edges, A Christmas Story). Also in attendance are County of Kings playwright and performer Lemon Anderson; Kitchen Table and Bone to Pick playwright Eugenie Chan; and playwright Tanya Saracho, whose works include El Nogalar, which will premiere at the Goodman Theatre in 2011.

Sundance Theatre Institute artistic director Philip Himberg shared some photos of the retreat with Playbill.com in an exclusive look at the Sundance experience. Playbill.com is also able to share with you a few words from Paul and Pasek, who are at work on their new musical Dogfight, which will receive a workshop at Lincoln Center Theater in May.

"Well we're now a little over a week into our stay at the fabulous Ucross Ranch in Clearmont, WY, as part of the Sundance Playwrights Retreat at Ucross, in Wyoming. And what a stay it has been," the songwriting duo wrote. "We came to Ucross excited about having the chance to work on our upcoming musical Dogfight, as we prepare for a workshop at Lincoln Center in May. But we were also excited about the opportunity to meet fellow artists who also wanted the chance to leave 'normal life' for a few weeks and retreat to this peaceful 20,000-acre ranch in the wilds of Wyoming. Our residency here has afforded us time and space to concentrate on our work--we are the happy occupants of a gorgeous grand piano studio with views of roaming cattle, prancing deer, and a gorgeous sun setting over the nearby foothills. We couldn't imagine a more conducive environment in which to develop our work. No car horns or sirens, no meetings or appointments. And no distractions – the 'nearest towns' are 20-30 minutes away! What a privilege to have a workspace, set in nature, to just create with no rules or boundaries.

"Perhaps even more inspirational than this picture-perfect Wyoming backdrop is the thought-provoking dialogue we get to engage in each night with the extremely talented playwrights sharing in this rich experience. Sundance has assembled a group of artists from all over the country, each with unique talents and gifts. Our diverse backgrounds and lives lead our conversations from the state of East African theater to race relations in Poland to, yes, Justin Bieber. And that's before dinner even starts.

"We feel so grateful to Philip Himberg, Christopher Hibma, and the
Sundance Institute for partnering with the fabulous Ucross Foundation
to provide this amazing opportunity to theatre artists."

[caption id="attachment_13802" align="aligncenter" width="460" caption="Lemon Andeson and Tanya Saracho"]Lemon Andeson and Tanya Saracho[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_13803" align="aligncenter" width="460" caption="Lemon Andeson"]Lemon Andeson[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_13804" align="aligncenter" width="460" caption="Tanya Saracho"]Tanya Saracho[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_13805" align="aligncenter" width="460" caption="Back: Brandon Jacob-Jenkins, Justin Paul, Lemon Anderson and Benj Pasek; Middle: Tanya Saracho and Eugenie Chan; Front: Ken Greller"](Back) Brandon Jacob-Jenkins, Justin Paul, Lemon Anderson and Benj Pasek (Middle) Tanya Saracho and Eugenie Chan (Front) Ken Greller[/caption]

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