Gibson, Belber, Grimm and Musical Kind Hearts and Coronets Will Be Heard in 2006 Sundance Lab

News   Gibson, Belber, Grimm and Musical Kind Hearts and Coronets Will Be Heard in 2006 Sundance Lab
Eight projects from emerging and established playwrights have been selected to participate in the Sundance Institute Theatre Laboratory, to be held July 10-30, at the Sundance Resort in Utah.

In addition to the eight projects, playwright Tanya Barfield has been selected as this year's Playwright-in-Residence and Russian director/producer Eduard Boyakov is participating in the Lab as an international observer.

"We have selected a wonderful range of projects from renowned playwrights as well as from new and emerging theatre artists," said Philip Himberg, producing artistic director, Sundance Institute Theatre Program. "These selected works reflect the vitality and variety of storytelling inherent in American theatre. From the racial integration policies of the 1960s to the modern political and cultural impact of the war in Iraq, this group of work exemplifies the importance of American theatre in today's cultural landscape."

At Sundance, writers will work with directors and actors to refine and develop their projects in a safe atmosphere free of producing pressures. Presentations to an audience of the Sundance Theatre Lab community which include staffers, guests and fellow Lab participants are made at the discretion of the participants.

The eight plays selected for the 2006 Sundance Institute Theatre Laboratory include:

  • Asymetrical Battlefield by Stephen Belber, directed by Lucie Tiberghien. The play by the author of Tape and Broadway's Match "weaves the story of an American reservist just back from Iraq and a Saudi-American citizen investigating a mysterious death. Overlapping in bars, living rooms and the periphery of imagination, both men unknowingly seek solace in a world with other agendas."
  • Citizen Josh by Josh Kornbluth, directed by David Dower. "Combining personal and collective autobiography, this piece by monologist Kornbluth (Ben Franklin Unplugged and Love and Taxes) will try to rescue 'democracy' from the sloganeers and make it feel immediate and visceral again."
  • Current Nobody by Melissa James Gibson, directed by Daniel Aukin. "Gibson, the author of [sic] and Brooklyn Bridge has invented a loose adaptation of Homer's 'Odyssey,' where it is the wife, Penelope, who has been away for 20 years as a war photojournalist and the husband, Odysseus, who has been left at home. It is their teenage daughter, Tel, who is left to grapple with the human cost of epic ambition."
  • The Evildoers by David Adjmi, directed by Rebecca Taichman. "When Martin's marriage falls apart, his best friends agree to take him in, but things take an unexpected turn when he is exposed to some rather unorthodox views on Christian Ethics. This new play is a raw, savage critique of fundamentalism couched in domestic comedy." Adjmi's other plays include Stunning and Strange Atrractors; and he is the recipient of a 2006 Jerome Fellowship.
  • …And Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi by Marcus Gardley, directed by Matt August. "This new play is a poetic retelling of the Demeter myth set during the Civil War. Narrated by Miss Ssippi River, it tells of a world where trees preach, rivers dance and Christ moonwalks." Gardley (Dance of the Holy Ghosts) is a poet-playwright who teaches Creative Writing at Columbia University.
  • Kind Hearts and Coronets, book by Robert Freedman, music by Steven Lutvak, lyrics by Robert Freedman & Steven Lutvak, directed by Nicholas Martin. "Set in 1902 England and based on the 1949 film classic, which starred Alec Guinness, this new musical is a black comedy centering on Louis D'Ascoyne Mazzini, who has been callously disinherited by the wealthy and titled D'Ascoyne Family and denied his one true love. Louis seeks revenge by murdering the eight relatives (all played by the same actor) who stand in his way of becoming Duke of Chalfont." Lutvak and Freedman have collaborated on another musical, Campaign of the Century, and are the recipients of the 2006 Kleban Award. Freedman wrote the television bio-pic "Me and My Shadows" which starred Judy Davis as Judy Garland.

  • Steve and Idi by David Grimm, directed by Eleanor Holdridge. "Steve's life is spinning out of control. His work is going no where, his lover dumps him, his friendships are strained and, as if that's not enough, the ghost of General Idi Amin, the Ugandan dictator, bursts through his window with a very strange demand." Grimm's Measure for Pleasure, workshopped at the 2005 Sundance Theater Lab and recently premiered at the New York Shakespeare Festival Public Theater.

  • The Tallest Girl in the Class by Hilly Hicks (director TBA). "Mr. Hicks' play concerns the shifting legacy of a black woman who was the first student to integrate the high school that her daughter now attends." Hicks (The Home Life of Polar Bears, A Hole in the Dark) is a graduate of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and the Columbia University Graduate School of the Arts. Tanya Barfield (Playwright in Residence) will continue her work on Equal Measure, which "juxtaposes the storylines of President Woodrow Wilson and Jade Kingston, an African-American civil servant working in the White House. As Wilson entered World War I in order to make the world safe for democracy, the President also began the reorganization of civil service, systematically removing black federal employees."

    Barfield's play, along with the plays of Hilly Hicks, David Adjmi, Steven Lutvak and Robert Freedman, represent a quartet of new work that have benefited from participation in the Sundance Institute Playwrights Retreat at Ucross in Wyoming.

    Boyakov has recently begun the first Russian national theatre festival supporting emerging Russian playwrights. Boyakov is artistic director of Praktika, a new ensemble dedicated to the development and production of new Russian theatre, and is poised to represent the best emerging Russian dramatists.

    Boyakov's residency is the current installment of a series of international theatre initiatives sponsored by the Sundance Theatre Theatre Program, which includes a presentation of the Sundance-developed I Am My Own Wife in Krakow, Poland starring Tony Award winner Jefferson Mays, last season.


    The Lab is under the artistic supervision of Philip Himberg. Creative advisers for this year's Lab include Gordon Davidson, (founding artistic director of the Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum), Molly Smith (artistic director, Arena Stage), Doug Wright (playwright). The dramaturgy team, lead by Mame Hunt, will include Elissa Adams, Jocelyn Clarke and Sydne Mahone. Meg Simon and Henry Russell are the casting directors for the 2006 Lab.


    The Sundance Theatre Program is a program of the Sundance Institute. Through its developmental activities at the Sundance Theatre Laboratory, The Sundance Playwright's Retreat at Ucross and the Sundance Theatre Lab at White Oak, the Program "identifies and assists emerging theatre artists, contributes to the creative growth of established artists, and encourages and supports the development of new work for the stage."

    Under the guidance of Producing Artistic Director Philip Himberg, over 60 Sundance Theatre projects have gone on to productions at theatres across the United States, Mexico and Europe in the last seven years.

    Founded by Robert Redford in 1981, Sundance Institute is dedicated "to the development of artists of independent vision and the exhibition of their new work." Since its inception, the Institute has grown into an internationally recognized resource for filmmakers and other artists. Sundance Institute conducts national and international labs for filmmakers, screenwriters, composers, writers and theatre artists.

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