Theatre Lab Guidelines | Sundance Institute

2015 Theatre Lab | July 6-26, 2015

Guidelines and application for the 2015 Theatre Lab are available below. The deadline for application is November 15, 2014 at 11:59pm EST.


The Theatre Lab welcomes applications for projects at any stage of development. Submitted work cannot have been previously produced, but may have received prior workshops or readings. In addition, projects scheduled to start rehearsals for a professional production before October 26, 2015 are not eligible due to our agreement with Actors' Equity Association. Commissioned work is eligible for submission; however, playwrights must obtain written permission from their commissioning organization prior to applying.

Playwrights, directors, composers, ensembles, performance artists, or choreographers may submit applications. Playwright/director teams are permitted and encouraged to apply together; however, if you do not have a director attached to your project, please note that Sundance Institute will help to match you up with a director if your play is selected for inclusion in the Theatre Lab. Director-driven projects are also welcome to apply.

Sundance Institute is interested in both established and emerging theatre artists, as well as artists making a transition from areas outside of theatre. We welcome solo performers and projects for young audiences.

NOTE: Artists may only submit one application. Previous applicants may re-apply, but not with previously submitted material.

Project Selection

Through open submissions, we consider an estimated 800+ projects. Sundance Institute 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. The Theatre Lab is more than a place to "rehearse"; it is an environment that encourages and supports risk-taking, experimentation, and rigorous re-writing and re-imagining. In order for Sundance Institute to fully evaluate your submission, we require a 1-2 page artistic statement as part of the application (see below for additional information).

What Sundance Institute Provides

The Sundance Institute Theatre Program provides professional actors, dramaturgs, rehearsal space, and stage management for the collaborative team working on each project. Projects rehearse on alternating days, giving writers the opportunity to rewrite or regroup when they're not in rehearsal. At the end of the Theatre Lab, projects will culminate in an informal presentation for the Lab community only, followed by an artist-led conversation with Sundance Institute artistic staff and/or guest Creative Advisors.

Each full-time Fellow (playwright, director, or other creative collaborator) receives a $1500 honorarium and a company of actors (if applicable), selected by Sundance Institute in collaboration with the Fellows, to support their project. Actors are selected for their professionalism, versatility, and suitability for the development process. Actors operate on a Special Agreement with Actors' Equity Association during the Theatre Lab.

Dramaturgy at Sundance is tailored individually to the needs of the play. Once a project is accepted to the Lab, the generative artists have an opportunity to discuss what kind of dramaturgical support (and how much) best suits them. Sundance dramaturgs, who have wide experience in the realm of new play development, are uniquely qualified to provide engaged, considered, and empowering guidance to the projects during the Theatre Labs, to offer fresh perspectives on the work at hand, and to ensure the privacy of the participating artist's independent vision. The Theatre Lab sees itself as a complement to, not a replacement of, any pre-existing developmental relationships participating artists may have on a given project, and is sensitive to the process of "passing the baton" at the conclusion of the Theatre Lab.

We strongly encourage that each rehearsal room is open to members of the Lab community for quiet observation. If you do not feel comfortable allowing colleagues to observe your rehearsal process, the Sundance Institute Theatre Program may not be the most appropriate place for you.

Giving Back to Sundance Institute

Sundance Institute was founded by Robert Redford as a way to give back, to support other film and theatre artists by providing them with an opportunity to develop their projects and skills. Sundance Institute does not accept royalties on projects supported by the Theatre Program. Artists own their work fully, but are required to publish Sundance Institute's logo, bio, staff listing, and credit:

"[Title of Project] was developed, in part, at the 
2015 Sundance Institute Theatre Lab"

This credit is required on the title page of all printed materials of future readings, workshops, productions, recordings, and publications of their projects. This and other requirements are detailed in a Memo of Understanding that Sundance Institute enters into with the generators of each project. Please call the Theatre Program at (646) 822-9564 with any questions.

How to Apply

Complete the online application form and upload your materials electronically. After submitting your materials online, you will receive an email confirmation. Materials to include :

  • Script Draft of your play or musical (unprotected Word or PDF document).
  • Artistic Statement (If applying as a playwri
    ght/director team, we require a statement from both the playwright and director).
  • IMPORTANT: Describe the status of the project, including prior readings and workshops, and what you hope to accomplish at the Lab. Include comments on the content, style of the piece, and the team's objectives for the workshop.
  • Resumes/Bios for each member of the creative team.
  • Cast breakdown. Please make sure to include ages, ethnicities and any other information that would be pertinent to the casting process.
  • Letter of acknowledgement from a commissioning organization (if applicable).
  • Uploadable .mp3 files of music (if applicable).
  • $35 non-refundable application processing fee payable by credit card on the online application.

NOTE: If you do not have access to the Internet, please call the Theatre Program at 646-822-9564 and we will work with you to submit your materials using alternative methods. Please make every effort to utilize the online application as it ensures the safe delivery of your application and supports the Greening Initiative of Sundance Institute.



The deadline for submission is November 15, 2014 at 11:59pm EST. Applicants are generally notified by late April. Please do not call or email us to inquire about the status of your project.


Applicants can find answers to many questions on the FAQ page. If you have additional questions, please email