Sundance Announces New Initiative to Support Theatre-makers from the MENA

This news really belongs on an e-magazine or “blog” fully dedicated to Arab and Arabic theatre in translation, but in the current absence of one:

sundanceLast week, the Utah-based Sundance Institute announced an “expansion of its international cultural exchange programs for independent artists with a new, multi-year initiative to support theatre-makers from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). With the goal of creating new opportunities for cross-cultural connectedness and in-depth mutual artistic reflection and exploration, the Institute will expand its existing international Labs to include a pilot Theatre Lab in MENA, to take place in May 2016.”

Theatre artists in the US and the MENA can submit work for consideration for the lab as well as a new residency to take place in Utah in the summer and fall of 2016.

Applications are available at in Arabic, English, and French.

In a news release, Sundance founder Robert Redford said that there would be “a spirit of experimentation and exchange at the core” of this new exchange program.

The Theatre Lab in MENA will replace the annual Theatre Lab in Utah in 2016. Up to eight projects by theatre-makers — with a promise of equal representation from the US and Arabic-majority countries — will be selected to participate in the Lab, which is set to take place at the Fellah Hotel, in collaboration with the Marrakesh-based Dar al-Ma’mûn.

In the release, Sundance Institute’s Theatre Program Artistic Director Philip Himberg:

“We hope this new initiative will challenge the American theatre community to embrace a broader definition of identity and creativity. In the same way, we’re looking to support the voices of MENA artists creating innovative and risk-taking work and connect them to their artistic peers in the U.S.”

And Middle East/North Africa Manager Jumana Al-Yasiri:

“It is our goal to build a program across the MENA region and for its artists wherever they might currently be based that lays the groundwork for deepened cross-cultural connectedness, knowing that our relationships with each other can allow for further artistic innovation and mutual inspiration among theatre-makers from different parts of the world.”

More on the Sundance blog.