Sundance Institute has chosen eight genre-crossing works to receive developmental opportunities through its annual Theatre Lab program. In the wake of theatre companies and new play initiatives going digital, the initiative will take place remotely through Sundance's Collab platform.
The Lab offers artists from the U.S. and/or the Arab region to advance their work with dramaturgs and advisors through intimate group exchanges.
Participants were selected by Interim Director Hibma, along with the program's staff and a committee consisting of Jesse Cameron Alick, Lisa Peterson, Hana Sharif, Junaid Sarieddeen, and Meiyin Wang. Hibma will collaborate with Guest Artistic Director Leigh Silverman; the creative team also includes dramaturgs Jesse Cameron Alick, Abdullah Al-Kafri, Janice Paran, and Leyla Rabih
The selected projects for 2020 follow.
Cairo Critical Cabaret (Egypt)
Conceived by Adham Hafez
Project by HaRaKa Platform (Mona Gamil, Lamia Gouda, and Adam Kucharski)
Cairo Critical Cabaret uses performance, song, and choreography to stage political chronicles, collective conviviality, and politics of intimacy during crisis by looking at the history of Egyptian cabaret at the turn of the 20th century and its connections to Berlin, Paris, and New York cabaret scenes.
Evidence of Things Not Seen (Lebanon)
By Stephanie Kayal
Music by Abed Kobeissy
Phantom Limb Syndrome is a condition in which a person experiences sensations, whether painful or otherwise, in a limb that does not exist; a false consolation that an amputated limb is still attached. Evidence of Things Not Seen is a dance performance about home, and the sensation of its presence, and its loss.
The Gift (U.S.)
Co-created by Janani Balasubramanian and Dr. Natalie Gosnell
Produced by Andrew Kircher
Composed by Tina-Hanaé Miller
Illustrated by Amy Myers
The Gift is an immersive media experience that merges reading and listening with shared moments of generosity. The accessible theatrical installation animates the research of observational astrophysicist Dr. Natalie Gosnell and re-inscribes outer space as feminist space.
By Ife Olujobi
Directed by Whitney White
In a workplace where appearance is everything, a long-suffering receptionist finds herself in personal, professional, and psychic jeopardy when her ruthless boss hires a hip new employee in order to improve the company’s image and “culture.” Suddenly, the two young, black, ambitious social climbers are forced together and torn apart by their race, racism, and otherworldly circumstance.
By Aziza Barnes
Directed by Machel Ross
NANA is a play based on Barnes' paternal lineage and their self-mythologies. Set in the Bronx in the late fifties, NANA explores colorism within a family unit, dysfunctional logics of attempts at loving one's blackness before it was a trend, the ease of whiteness, and substance abuse as self-medication.
By Hassan Abdulrazzak
Directed by Kate Whoriskey
Samir, a Muslim Arab and a failed inventor, is contemplating suicide. His Korean-American friend Sophie is egging him on to kill himself. But Ivan, a Cuban-American, is not so sure. Ivan is writing a musical about suicide and thinks there is value in Samir staying alive, at the very least as a source for inspiration. Over the course of the evening, Sophie and Ivan help Samir to decide whether he should stay alive or end his life.
The Storyteller (U.S.)
By K’naan Warsame
The Storyteller is a musical about a young storyteller in Somalia, who tells other people’s stories until his own becomes too large to ignore.
By Tamara Saade
Directed by Myriam El Hajj
Thurayya follows an 18-year-old woman in Lebanon who gets pregnant with her communist lover of the same age. She decides to undergo an abortion. The play is narrated in a reparative attempt to salvage lost memory fragments related to the abortion and its aftermath.
Sundance has also named seven artists-in-virtual-residence: Mariam Bazeed (Egypt/U.S.), Waleed Elgadi (Sudan/U.K.), Franky Gonzalez (U.S.), Daniel Alexander Jones (U.S.), Mwendie Mbugua (Kenya), José Rivera (U.S.), and Mfoniso Udofia (U.S.).