The Sundance Institute announced Chicago Roundtable, a pilot project that uses the Sundance Theatre Lab Feedback Process "as a model for smaller theatres and strengthens Sundance's connection with the Chicago theatre community."
The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation will host the Sundance Institute Theatre Program for a public meeting and reception in Chicago on Sept. 14, and play readings and feedback sessions on Sept. 15.
The public meeting and reception — open to Chicago's theatre and cultural community — will take place at the Steppenwolf Garage on Sept. 14 from 5:30-7 PM. This reception is an opportunity to meet the Sundance artistic staff, "who hope to further support Sundance's connection with Chicago-based theatre artists and audiences and become more familiar with the new and diverse theatre happening in the city."
On Sept. 15, the Sundance Institute will conduct two abbreviated workshops, giving a hint of what happens in the summer theatre lab. The reading portion of these workshops is open for the theatre community to attend and will be led by Philip Himberg, Mame Hunt (dramaturg/associate artist), Tanya Barfield (playwright/creative advisor) and Christopher Hibma (associate director).
Two Chicago-based playwrights have been selected for the inaugural workshop: Bryn Magnus with A Right to Your Feelings and Sean Graney with En Mortem. The first reading (A Right to Your Feelings) will be held at The Lookingglass Theater and the second play reading (En Mortem) will take place at the Chicago Cultural Center. The reception and roundtable "should help increase an understanding of the work of the 26-year-old Sundance Institute Theatre Program, including the Sundance Institute's Theatre Lab, a highly selective three-week workshop held each July at the Sundance Resort in Utah's Wasatch Mountains," according to Sundance.
The summer workshop offers playwrights, directors, choreographers, composers, solo performers and ensembles the time, space and support to develop new plays and musicals or to explore new approaches to existing scripts.
Philip Himberg, producing artistic director of Sundance Institute Theatre Program, stated, "The Chicago Roundtable is an expansion of the Sundance Institute Theatre Program Labs, and represents our dedication to continuing our support to the Sundance family of artists beyond our three formal workshop programs. It reflects a deepening of our commitment to new work across America. We are instituting a broader range of ways to generate and support new theatre and this Chicago Lab is a pilot project to introduce the Sundance Lab process to one of our country's most extraordinary and vibrant theatre communities."
Sundance Institute Theatre Lab-supported projects that were subsequently produced in Chicago include Crowns (Goodman Theatre), Hambone (Victory Gardens), Hollywood Arms (Goodman Theatre), I Am My Own Wife (About Face, Goodman Theatre), The Light in the Piazza (Auditorium Theatre; Goodman Theatre), Mabou Mines Dollhouse (Court Theatre, Museum of Contemporary Art), Offspring of the Cold War (Walkabout Theatre), and Oo-Bla-Dee (Goodman Theatre).
The Sundance Institute Theatre Program is part of the Sundance Institute. Through its developmental activities at the Sundance Institute Theatre Lab, the Sundance Institute Playwrights Retreat at Ucross in Wyoming and the Sundance Theatre Lab at White Oak in Florida, 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."
More than 85 percent of the work coming out of the program's labs has found professional production at theatres across the United States, Mexico and Europe.