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Reflecting on a profound experience – Sundance Institute Writers’ Lab in Salt Lake City.


This year I came back home a night shy of the tragic fire that engulfed our Airport after almost a month of interacting with creatives at the Sundance Resort in Salt Lake City.There was no time to miss America or even encourage the jet lag since my production projects badly required my attention.Now four months after the dust has settled,I begin to nostalgically and critically compare the Sundance Institute experience to our own East African productions.The muse decided it should be in form of a letter of appreciation to the organizers.

Dear Sundance Institute East Africa team ….

This email had long been written in my heart and my mind but I came back home into production duties of our TV show. I want to really thank you for the opportunity granted to me as one of the East African directors who were able to meet together for a second time and also network with other practitioners outside Africa as we observed and participated in creation of magical work. I’m glad that you are still supporting this kind of work.

I have a long list of experiences that were beneficial to my artistic knowledge.The ones that stood out were observing the relationship between the playwright and director in developing a story.I realized how helpful it was to the writers to “hear” themselves. The talented directors had a unique opportunity (directors rarely work with writers in East Africa ) to dive deep into the playwright’s artistic pool and even re – discover what the playwright “meant” but was not able to articulate.These incidents were magical and eye-watering.

I’m still impressed by the extremely high level of organization that was maintained through out the workshops. From the time a wonderful and kind volunteer assistant came to pick me up at the airport , to the running of the rehearsals and even making sure we retired comfortably in our designated rooms. I’m still amazed at how the leadership was able to manage the crew so efficiently and still be able to make everybody feel cared for and significant in the success of the project.

After (and due to) The workshop at Utah:

I have made friendly and professional contacts with some of the artistes from the workshop.First , the East African directors, who are now a family.We try our best to keep in touch and encourage each other in our individual projects , and with other great participants that I met at the mountain. I guess I just wanted to say thank you from the bottom of my heart 🙂


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Philip replied:

Thank you so much for sharing what you learned at Sundance and for your gratitude. As I’ve said before, it works both ways. All of us at Sundance are grateful for your participation, for getting to know you as an artist and person, and also for your lovely warmth and generosity. This bond between the people of our Institute and the other artists you have met will only continue and grow. Sending much love to you,

Philip

Philip Himberg, Artistic Director, Sundance Institute Theatre Program

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Roberta also replied:

Dear Rogers, Thank you very much for taking the time to write down these valuable thoughts. I’m glad to hear that the connections you made at Sundance are continuing to develop. We’re all looking forward to hearing your updates!
It’s a joy to have you as part of the Sundance family. Your contributions continue to enrich our program and the experiences of everyone involved. Thank you! Roberta

Roberta Levitow

Co-founder and co-director, Theatre Without Borders

About Aroji Otieno

Observing - LIVING - Feeling

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