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2018 Theatre Lab FAQ

1. What are the dates of the 2018 Theater Lab?

The dates for the 2018 Theatre Lab are May 6-27, 2018. If you are traveling internationally, there may be an additional day(s) of travel. 

2. Who can apply?

Any professional theatre-makers are encouraged to apply: playwrights, directors, ensembles, etc.

3. What type of projects are accepted? 

Sundance looks for original, compelling human stories that reflect the independent vision of the theatre artist. We are interested in supporting a diverse and daring group of theatre artists who tell unique stories, present material in a new form, or conceptualize existing material with an innovative vision. We look for writers and collaborators who are interested in genuinely exploring their material. Plays, musicals, dance theatre, performances and solo projects are all eligible. Submitted projects must be original works. We are most interested in stories that you feel need to be told by you at this moment in time. 

4. How are projects selected?

All submissions – generally between 700 and 900 annually – are read in their entirety and evaluated by qualified play readers from around the world. Our artistic staff narrows the field to the top 25-30 submissions, which are then evaluated by an Advisory Committee comprised of established playwrights, dramaturgs, and directors. The Artistic Director makes the final selections and extends personal invitations to join the Lab.

5. What does Sundance look for?

First and foremost, we look for projects that reflect an originality and “independent spirit.” We're particularly interested in provocative new work from lesser heard voices and work that looks at familiar topics in an unfamiliar way. Once we have established that a project warrants our interest, we look for clues that applicants have strongly identified their objectives in the supporting materials-- both long-term and in the context of the Lab. Some projects aren't suited to a highly collaborative Lab environment, and projects that only need a polish before they're ready for productions are not for us. We aspire to diversity and balance in our selections, and crossover artists, ensemble work, political plays, and projects that defy categorization have all found a home at Sundance. Please Note: we do NOT favor projects about geopolitics or the region. Playwrights are welcomed to apply with any and all topics and in any genre.

6. Do you accept international submissions?

In terms of international submissions, we only accept applications at this time from artists from the Middle East and North Africa who are creating new works in Arabic (classical or dialect). MENA theatre-makers working in English or French can be considered too, and we welcome international submissions by diaspora artists from the Middle East and North Africa, currently residing in the EU or elsewhere.

7. What is an artistic statement?

Your artistic statement should tell us what you’re writing about and why, and should include your goals for your time at the Lab. What do you hope to accomplish? (i.e., specific questions with which you are engaged or frustrated: about story, character, style or anything else that can be explored in a collaborative Lab environment where trying out new ideas is encouraged.)

8. Do you accept work in foreign languages? 

Yes. Artists should write in the language in which they ‘dream’ - in which they feel most comfortable. Traditionally, Sundance’s main working language has been English. If selected, translations of work will be discussed for each project. Projects in Arabic (all dialects) are encouraged.

9. Do I have to be at the Lab for the entire time?

Yes. If your project is selected, you must be available to be at the Lab for its entirety. If you have a scheduling conflict, we suggest that you do not submit this year, and submit in a future season.

10. Does Sundance pay for my travel to the Lab?

Yes. Sundance provides economy round trip plane tickets. Travel for the Theatre Lab will be to/from Marrakech, Morocco. We will also provide lodging and meals for you and the rest of the creative team attached to your project.

11. Will I receive a fee/stipend for my participation in the Lab?

Yes. Sundance does provide a stipend for all full-time Fellows. For the 2018 Theatre Lab, Fellows will receive $1500 USD at the end of the Lab.

12. Can I receive feedback on my submission?

No. Sundance Institute does not provide feedback on submitted projects.

13. I submitted last year, but have done major rewrites and the project is much different. Can I submit again?

No. We do not accept projects that have been previously submitted, and we do not make exceptions to this rule.

14. I am a playwright, but I don't have a director attached to my project, can I still submit?

Yes. It is not a problem if you do not have a director. If selected, we will work with you to find a director that will best complement your project.

15. What if a playwright or a director is attached to more than one project?

Playwrights may only be attached to one project. A director can be attached to more than one project. If both projects are accepted into the Lab, the director will have to select only one project to work on. The director cannot work on more than one project at the Lab.

16. Do you prefer if I send in a hard copy of my play, instead of submitting it electronically?

We require everyone to submit their projects electronically. We understand that some applicants may not have reliable access to the internet. If this is the case, contact us for an alternative submission process. 

17. Do you accept “blind” submissions? (a “blind” submission is a submission where the creator’s name does not appear on the script)

No, we do not ask that scripts be blind. 

18. My project is a musical, do I have to submit the music tracks electronically? 

There is a very strong preference that everything is submitted electronically, in accordance with Sundance’s environmental awareness and it makes it much easier for our readers. 

19. Can you waive the application fee?

Unfortunately, we cannot waive the application fee for US applicants. The fee is waived for MENA applicants. 

20. Must I have the rights to the song, the book or other materials that my play or musical is based on?

Yes. If you are including any materials for which you are not the writer/creator, you must obtain the rights prior to submitting. If you do not have the rights, we cannot accept your project. 

21. What if my play is commissioned?

We do accept plays that are commissioned by other organizations; however, you must obtain written permission from the commissioning organization stating that they support your application.

22. Can I bring my own dramaturg?

In most cases, no. Sundance provides dramaturgical support that is customized to each individual project, and once a project is accepted into the Lab, there will be an opportunity to discuss what model is best for your play. In some cases, Sundance would consider a dramaturg who “comes with” a project, particularly if that dramaturg is one of the generative artists. We tend to discourage the practice of including dramaturgs employed by institutions that have commissioned or committed to a future production of a play. 

Sundance is a time for the generative artists to explore their impulses as independently as they can, and not in tandem with the needs of a future production. In the case of work that is commissioned or committed to production, we have done well with a process whereby the Lab dramaturg "passes the baton" to the dramaturg at the producing institution.

23. Can I bring my own actors?

Sundance will work with each selected project on identifying the best actors for your project. If you have been working with specific actors during the development of your project, and you feel they are integral to the creation of the piece (if the piece was written for a specific performer, for instance, or devised with its actors), please indicate this in the Other Collaborators section of your application. 

24. What if my submitted project has already been produced?

We can only accept projects that have NOT been produced. A produced project is defined as a project that has been reviewed by critics. We do accept plays that have had a previous workshop, or developmental opportunities.

25. Can I submit a play that is not completed?

Yes. We accept plays in various stages of development. We recommend that you submit more than an outline of the project. An actual draft—even if it’s incomplete-- is most helpful in evaluating your project. We are only interested in plays that you feel need work and experimentation.

26. Does Sundance produce my project after the Lab?

No. Sundance only provides developmental support. Sundance is not a producer and is not committed to producing your project at any point after the Lab. Sundance will, however, have a conversation with each alumni project about the continuing life of your project. 

27. Can I bring my children to the Lab?

While Sundance Institute strives to provide a family-friendly environment, it is our experience that the responsibilities of parenting can be counterproductive to the work that this unique opportunity offers. We strongly encourage families with children to make other childcare arrangements at home during the Lab. Please contact the Theatre Program if you have questions about families or guests. 

28. Can I bring my dog to the Lab?

No animals are permitted at the Lab.

29. I am an actor not attached to any submitted project. Can I be considered for the acting company during the Lab? 

All actors are selected by our casting director(s) for the Lab. To be considered, please email your headshot and resume to If you are an Arabic-speaking actor, please send your headshot and resume to

30. Who do I contact with additional questions?

US Inquiries:

Middle East/North Africa Inquiries: