Plays by David Adjmi, Youness Atbane, David Cale and Kamilah Forbes
Reflect the Impact of Art and Its Possibilities
Los Angeles, CA — Four projects representing diverse world voices, each with bold and independent visions of how art can elevate the human experience, comprise this year’s selected projects for the two-week Sundance Institute Theatre Lab at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), convening December 3-17, 2017, with a public performance of another project slated for December 9. The Theatre Labs process is rigorous and generative. Dedicated to the creation and development of forward-thinking theater; projects are cast individually, rehearsed daily and benefit from concentrated, uninterrupted time and resources.
The projects and their makers convening represent a range of cultural backgrounds; inspirations and influences range broadly from National Book Award-winning books (Between the World and Me) and the romance of analog recording technology (Stereophonic) to shattering acts of violence (We’re Only Alive for A Short Amount of Time) and modern Arab experiences in Western artistic contexts (Untitled Contemporary Arab Art Work in an Occidental Platform).
Philip Himberg, Director of Sundance Institute’s Theatre Program, said “Our Labs convene storytellers in inspiring environments: at MASS MoCA, that encompasses a world-class collection of contemporary art. This affords our extraordinary theatre-makers an opportunity to respond and interact with the highest level of current visual expression, as they explore and refine their own storytelling in rehearsals. Our eclectic roster of projects this year includes: performance art, oratorio, a play with songs and a solo piece, all of which excavate deeply personal struggles with what it is to become an artist and citizen of the world.”
Works supported at the Theatre Lab at MASS MoCA can be a springboard to a global stage: 36 Abbas Street, Haifa, developed at the Lab last year, premiered in Beirut this fall and last season’s Club Diamond premiered at the 2017 Under the Radar Festival in New York.
The projects selected for the Theatre Lab at MASS MoCA are:
Between the World and Me
Adapted from the book by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Developed and Directed by Kamilah Forbes
Dramaturgical Adaptation by Talvin Wilks and Lauren Whitehead
Original Score by Jason Moran
In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, offers a powerful framework for understanding our nation’s history, the idea of race, and current crisis. Co-commissioned by Apollo Theater and John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts World. Premiere at Apollo Theater in April 2018.
Kamila Forbes is a director/producer and the historic Apollo Theater’s executive producer. She was associate director of Raisin in the Sun (2014) among other Broadway shows, and is the recipient of an NAACP Image Award and a Tony. Forbes is a co-founder of the urban arts non-profit Hi-Arts.
Talvin Wilks is a playwright, director and dramaturg based in New York City and Minneapolis. He has served as co-writer/co-director/
Lauren Whitehead is a writer, performer and MFA recipient in Dramaturgy (Columbia University). She has had a number of play readings and her writings have been published in Apogee, Winter Tangerine and selected anthologies. Most recently, Lauren originated the role of “Un/Sung” in the opera “We Shall Not Be Moved” (Wilma Theater, The Apollo, Dir. Bill T. Jones). She teaches playwriting and dramaturgy at The New School.
Jason Moran is a pianist, composer and educator. He has produced ten albums and six film soundtracks, including scores for Ava DuVernay’s Selma and 13th. In 2007, Moran was commissioned to created IN MY MIND: Monk at Town Hall, 1959. Recent releases include The Armory Concert (2016), Thanksgiving at the Vanguard (2017), BANGS (2017), MASS (Howl, eon) under his own label Yes Records. In 2010 Moran was awarded a MacArthur fellowship and is the Artistic Director for Jazz at The Kennedy Center.
By David Adjmi
Directed by Daniel Aukin
Music by Will Butler
Creative Consultants: Justin Craig, Ryan Rumery & David Zinn
It’s 1975, and Reg and Holly are in the middle of an ugly, painful breakup, though they won’t go their separate ways. They’ll see each other every day in the sound room – along with the other members of the band, who are about to record the album of their lives. Set in the heyday of analog recording, Stereophonic looks at the sacrifices human beings make to achieve greatness. Commissioned by Center Theatre Group.
David Adjmi’s plays, which include Marie Antoinette, Elective Affinities, 3C, Stunningand The Evildoers, have been produced at such theatres at Steppenwolf, Lincoln Center, the Royal Court, the R.S.C and Soho Rep. He was awarded a Mellon Fellowship, the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Whiting Award, and the Steinberg Playwright Award (the “Mimi”) among others. David’s new play collection will be published by TCG in the fall of 2017, and his untitled memoir is forthcoming from Harper Collins.
Daniel Aukin’s recent work includes Abe Koogler’s Fulfillment Center (MTC), the acclaimed Broadway revival of Sam Shepard’s Fool for Love (MTC), Dan LeFranc’s Rancho Viejo (Playwrights’ Horizons), Melissa James Gibson’s Placebo (Playwrights’ Horizons), The Fortress of Solitude (Dallas Theater Center & The Public Theatre), Joshua Harmon’s Bad Jews (Roundabout), Melissa James Gibson’s What Rhymes with America (The Atlantic), Sam Shepard’s Heartless (Signature), Amy Herzog’s 4000 Miles (Lincoln Center Theatre), Marius von Mayenburg’s The Ugly One (Soho Rep), Itamar Moses’ Back Back Back (MTC), Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge(Arena Stage) and Elmer Rice’s The Adding Machine (La Jolla Playhouse).
We’re Only Alive for A Short Amount of Time
Written and Performed by David Cale
Songs by David Cale
Arrangements and Underscoring Composed by Matthew Dean Marsh
Directed by Tony Speciale
Growing up in an ugly English industrial town, writer and performer David Cale escaped the volatility of his parents’ marriage by singing Petula Clark songs and tending to the tropical birds in the Bird and Animal Hospital he built in a garden shed – until a violent act changed everything. Weaving together original songs, family members portraits and narrative storytelling, Cale embodies a vivid tale of learning to live when death is suddenly everywhere. We’re Only Alive for A Short Amount of Time was developed, in part, at SPACE on Ryder Farm and at a retreat at the Weston Playhouse, Weston, Vermont.
David Cale is the writer and performer of solo works including the Obie Award winning Lillian (Playwrights Horizons), Deep in a Dream of You (The Public Theater, Bessie Award). He wrote the book, lyrics, co-composed the music for, and starred in the musical Floyd and Clea Under the Western Sky (Playwrights Horizons, Goodman Theater, Outer Critics Circle Nomination). His new solo work Harry Clarke starring Billy Crudup premieres this fall at the Vineyard Theatre.
Tony Speciale is the Artistic Director of Abingdon Theatre Company, an off-Broadway theatre company dedicated to developing and producing new American work. NYC: Unnatural Acts (CSC – Drama Desk Award nominee, GLAAD Media Award nominee); The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey (Dixon Place/Westside Theatre); A Midsummer Night’s Dream featuring Bebe Neuwirth, Christina Ricci and Taylor Mac (CSC); and Matthew Leed Erlbach’s Handbook for an American Revolutionary (The Gym at Judson). Regional: The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey (Kirk Douglas Theatre, Old Globe, Bay Street Theater, Hartford Stage); Barry Manilow’s Harmony (Alliance Theatre/Ahmanson Theatre); and Romeo and Juliet (Actors Theatre of Louisville).
Matthew Dean Marsh is a Brooklyn-based composer, writer and performer. His compositions have been heard at Madison Square Garden, Lincoln Center, the Michigan Opera House, BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music), The Goodman (Chicago), TriBeCa Film Festival, McKittrick Hotel (Sleep No More) and the White House in Washington, D.C. Accompanying credits include Joseph Keckler (at Centre Pompidou in Paris), Ato Blankson-Wood, Todd Almond, Jo Lampert, Salty Brine, David Cale, Max Jenkins, Tom Hennes, Erin Markey, Shaina Taub and Sherie Rene Scott. His song and music video “Lost Boys” was a finalist at the Los Angeles 2016 Music Video Awards, a semi-finalist in the 2017 International MV Awards in Paris. He is a Johnny Mercer Songwriter’s Fellowship alumni.
Untitled Contemporary Arab Art Work in an Occidental Platform
By Youness Atbane
With the collaboration of Aziz Nadif
Currently in its exploratory phase, this new work excavates the connections between contemporary art and contemporary Arabic identity, as well as the links between ‘art’ and the ‘art market’ in the context of crisis. In an era where the crisis in the Arab identity, and public perception of what is it to be “Arab”, is oftentimes misconstrued and misinterpreted by the art Arabs create — or are expected to create. This project utilizes text, singing, movement and visual art through the lens of political events, past and present, beginning with the Arab Andalusian history in Spain in the middle ages to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the Arab Spring and onward to a fictional future.
Youness Atbane is an artist who works in a variety of media. After a range of studies across graphic art and design, performance and visual art in France, Morocco, Belgium and Spain, he is a graduate of “EX E.R.CE08,” an M.A. program in Montpellier’s Centre Chorégraphique National and the Master in Arts and Museology program of the Université of Nice Sofia Antipolis. His installations and performances have been at museums worldwide, including Madrid’s Casa Encendidia, Rome’s Museum of Contemporary Art, Paris’ Institut du Monde Arabe, London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, Rabat’s Museum of Contemporary Art Mohammed VI and San Francisco’s Headland Center for the Arts.
Aziz Nadif is a Moroccan singer and dancer. A graduate of Casablanca’s Conservatoire, he joined the world of contemporary dance through collaboration with choreographer Khalid Benghrib. Later on, he worked with international choreographers such as Loren Palmer, Younes Atbane, and Roshaus Aust. Aziz’s work focuses on crossing voice and movement, something that he continued to develop when he joined the company 2KFAR, and through his regular participation in international artistic projects.
Dramaturgs: Janice Paran (Senior Program Associate) and Lisa Timmel
Creative Advisors: Ayad Akhtar (Junk, Disgraced) and Lynn Nottage (Sweat, Ruined)
Casting Directors: Jack Doulin + Sharky Casting
Stage Management: Catherine Bloch, Helen Irene Muller, Carol Simon and Hannah Woodward
Acting Company at time of publication: Noel Joseph Allain (Bushwick Starr Theater), Colin Bates (Sneaky Pete), Gideon Glick (Significant Other), Lola Kirke, John Kroft, Colby Minifie (Six Degrees of Separation), G. Alvarez Reid, Nick Selting, Michelle Wilson (Sweat)
The Sundance Institute Theatre Program is supported by an endowment from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, with generous additional support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Time Warner Foundation; Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art; Perry and Martin Granoff; National Endowment for the Arts; John and Marcia Price Family Foundation; LUMA Foundation; The Shubert Foundation, Inc.; and The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust.
Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and new media to create and thrive. The Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences to artists in igniting new ideas, discovering original voices, and building a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as Boyhood, Swiss Army Man, Manchester By the Sea, Brooklyn, Little Miss Sunshine, Life, Animated, Sonita, 20 Feet From Stardom, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Sin Nombre, Spring Awakening, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.