East Africa Sundance Institute Theatre Lab | Zanzibar

563050_10151659964608515_644199448_nUnder the supervision of Artistic Director Philip Himberg and Producing Director Christopher Hibma, the two-week exchange and development program (November 10-24) is part of the Sundance Institute East Africa initiative, now in its eleventh year, a professional program that creates peer to peer mentorship and exposure opportunities between theatre artists in East Africa and the U.S.  In the spirit of this exchange, Sundance Institute East Africa engages with East African artists in Africa as well as East African artists sharing their work in the U.S. Deborah Asiimwe, Specialist-East Africa, and Roberta Levitow, Senior Program Associate-International and Co-Founder, Theatre Without Borders, co-led this initiative.

While advancing the growth of individual artistic voices, they provide mentorship and professional development opportunities-recognizing and honoring the specific cultural, social, political, and artistic realities of East African life (unique to each country as well as to the continent) within both the design and the implementation of the Program. Sundance Institute East Africa is not a training program.

The primary goals of this exchange are to foster:

  • The growth of the American theatre artist and field through interactions in East Africa and with East African artists
  • The growth of the East African theatre artist and field through international exposure and exchange



Sundance Institute have announced the artists and projects selected for its first Theatre Lab on Zanzibar, which have now concluded. Deborah Asiimwe, Specialist-East Africa, and Roberta Levitow, Senior Program Associate-International and Co-Founder, Theatre Without Borders, co-led this initiative.

Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute, said,

Our East Africa initiative is rooted in the understanding that exchange opportunities for independent artists, though rare, promote the inclusiveness and diversity of story that ultimately serves to advance the field of theatre.

Himberg said,

This is our third residency in the region. Two previous Labs were hosted on Manda Island, Kenya. Hosting our first Theatre Lab on Zanzibar, Tanzania, as part of our longstanding East Africa initiative allowed us to extend our unique and renowned model of creative support to artists in the region. We are grateful to our artists, both in East Africa and from the U.S., for contributing to an international conversation that enables us to better understand the role of the artist in our respective cultures.

The creative teams and projects participating in the Theatre Lab on Zanzibar were:

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Jonah: A Story of Legend, Friendship and Survival by Kibwe Tavares




Jonah is a short by Kibwe Tavares. It is set in Zanzibar and looks at the effects tourism can have on a country from an economic and environmental perspective. By utilising a narrative of  friendship between Mbwana and his best friend Juma, these themes are explored. Mbwana and Juma are men with big dreams. Dreams that become a reality when they photograph “the world’s biggest jumping fish” leaping out of the sea.

Their tiny town soon blossoms into a tourist hot-spot as a result. But for Mbwana, the reality isn’t what he dreamed – when he meets the fish again, both of them forgotten, ruined and old, he decides only one of them can survive.

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Sundance 2013: ‘God Loves Uganda’

god loves uganda


In God Loves Uganda documentarian Roger Ross Williams casts a critical eye on the presence and growing influence of evangelical Christianity on the African continent. The film focuses on Uganda in particular, where local religious leaders fueled by Kansas’s International House of Prayer tirelessly work towards promoting legislation that could threaten the lives of LGBT Ugandans.

Via Shadow and Act