In This Section


“It is a good thing to place different civilizations in contact with each other;
that whatever its own particular genius may be,
a civilization that withdraws into itself atrophies;
that for civilizations, exchange is oxygen.”

-Aimé Césaire, African poet and political theorist

Through its International initiatives, the Sundance Institute Theatre Program develops the work of independent artists from countries and regions of the world undergoing social change. Forged by their experiences, these artists use theatre and performance to tell urgent stories in innovative and compelling ways.

Since 1997, the Theatre Program’s international activity has grown from a handful of international observers at the Theatre Lab in Utah to over 13 years of deep peer-to-peer intercultural engagement in six East African countries and, currently, in the Middle East & North Africa.

Under this unprecedented program, Sundance alumni including Liesl Tommy, Lisa Peterson, Rachel Hauck, Charlayne Woodard, Stew, Lynn Nottage, Noah Haidle, Rebecca Taichman and Indhu Rubasingham have traveled to Labs in Africa as Creative Advisors. Reciprocally, East African artists have attended Labs in the as Artists-in-Residence and Fellows, bringing projects and collaborators to the rigorous Theatre Lab experience. Exposure and exchange foster the pursuit of artistic excellence, a celebration of diversity, a commitment to transparency and openness, and an appreciation of differences in artistic practice, content, and identity.

Why do we work internationally?

  • Enrich Creative Dialogue: Support a wide range of stories and methods of storytelling, as well as enrich the creative dialogue within the Sundance community by including international artists.
  • Provide artist support and an international platform for artists from emerging regions: Identify and support regions that are producing the most exciting art, and introduce their work to audiences in the US and around the world.
  • Build Infrastructure: Drive new systems of support for artists in regions where financial and creative infrastructure for artists is underdeveloped.
  • Advocacy & Public Engagement: Support stories of awareness and understanding around current, urgent social issues. Support underrepresented voices in regions where artistic expression is challenged.
  • Expand Our Presence: Increase awareness of the Institute’s work to new regions.

A History of SITP International Activity
From 1997-2003, the Center for International Theatre Development (CITD) under the leadership of Philip Arnoult organized visits to the Theatre Lab by artists from Hungary, Romania, Russia & Poland. The Eastern/Central European initiative culminated in the support of Krystof Warlikowski’s Krum (which later debuted at the BAM), reciprocated by the Krakow, Poland, production of I Am My Own Wife with its original Broadway star (Jefferson Mays), directed by Moisés Kaufman. In 2010, we traveled to Russia with CITD’s “New American Plays for Russia” initiative in collaboration with translator John Freedman. Theatre Program staff continually visit theatre festivals around the globe as well.

Sundance Institute East Africa (SIEA)
Together we build our Ubuntu, our Humanness.
Expanding upon initial exchange in 2002 with a handful of CITD-identified artists from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, SIEA has grown to 13 years of meaningful engagement with over 50 leading artists based in 6 East African countries: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi & Ethiopia. Under the leadership of Ugandan playwright and SIEA Specialist Deborah Asiimwe, with Programs Associates Roberta Levitow and Liesl Tommy, SIEA has held a series of new-work development Labs on the African continent and projects by East African artists were also selected for development at the US Theatre Labs. Through November 2014, SIEA will transition as Specialist Asiimwe partners with the Bayimba Foundation in Kampala, Uganda. Successful SIEA projects in performance include: Ngwino Ubeho ou La Pluie et Les Larmes (Compagnie Kossiwa, Nantes, France); Silent Voices (The National Theatre of Uganda); He is Here He Says I Say (The A’at Festival, Amman, Jordan). More information about SIEA is available here.

Sundance Institute Middle East North Africa (SIMENA)
In 2012 the Theatre Program began to expand its outreach to the countries that comprise the Middle East and North Africa. To begin the research phase in 2012, we traveled to Amman, Jordan and in 2013, visits were made to theatre festivals in Cairo, Egypt, Marseilles, France and Istanbul, Turkey. More information about SIMENA is available here.

Sundance Institute Europe (SIE)
Two additional initiatives are bringing the Theatre Program to Europe: Sundance London (UK) and Sundance Arles (France). In 2013, the Sundance London activities included – amongst a festival of film, music and other activities - a performance at The Tricycle Theatre of Paper Dolls written by Philip Himberg. In August 2013, Sundance Institute began a Directors Lab in Arles, France – providing six theatre directors a rare artistic retreat setting focused solely on them.

For general information about the Theatre Program’s work internationally, please email contact Producing Director, Christopher Hibma