Piven Theatre Workshop

 
Dates: 1975-1999
Size: 1 linear foot
Repository: Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center, Special Collections, 400 S. State St., Chicago, IL 60605
Collection Number: SPE: Archives_CTC_PTW
Provenance: The Piven Theatre Workshop began depositing archival materials in the Chicago Public Library’s Chicago Theater Collection in 1992. Subsequent transfers of materials have included expanded information on Piven Theatre Workshop productions and promotional material on classes and workshops.
Access: Researchers, please request this material 24 hours in advance of use.
Citation: When quoting material from this collection the preferred citation is: Piven Theatre Workshop [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections, Chicago Public Library.

Historical Note

Byrne and Joyce Piven founded the Piven Theatre Workshop in 1974, in Evanston, Ill. The Pivens, along with Mike Nichols, Elaine May and Paul Sills, were founding members of the Playwright’s Theatre, the group that spawned The Second City. While Playwright’s Theatre can take credit for engendering Chicago’s reputation for theatrical innovation, it eventually disbanded in the early 1960s. The Pivens spent the next 13 years acting and taking drama classes in New York City with the renowned teachers of the Stanislavsky method, Uta Hagen and Mira Rostova.

Upon their return to the Chicago area, Byrne and Joyce Piven joined the Second City Repertory Company. They also began to teach children’s theater classes. Based on Viola Spolin’s theater games, and using Story Theatre, a directorial technique developed by Spolin’s son Paul Sills during his Playwright’s Theatre days, the Pivens’ philosophy was that theatrical performances can be explored in the same way as other art forms, such as music, painting or writing.

In Story Theatre, the notion is that that actor is telling the story to the audience in much the same way that fiction is read aloud. Joyce Piven explains it this way: “When you open a book with a child, you do so with great respect. ‘I’m not the Queen, I’m the player and I’m going to share this story with you.’ You must earn the right for the child’s involvement. How much you can actually become the Queen is something you must play by ear. You get to the heart of the story by mutual agreement.”

The Pivens’ first Young People’s Company included Ann and Joan Cusack. John Cusack and Aidan Quinn, who have gone on to successful careers in motion pictures, are also alumni of the Piven Theatre Workshop, as are Lili Taylor and Lecy Goranson, who have found success in television. The Pivens’ children have also followed in their parents’ footsteps and have successful careers in the performing arts. Jeremy is a well-known television actor. Shira Piven is a successful stage director, composer and actor, who also teaches at the workshop when she is in Chicago.

Individual folders in this finding guide are not numbered. Please ask the reference librarian on duty for assistance when requesting materials from this collection.

Container List

BOX 1: 1975/1976-1990/1991

PRODUCTIONS

Mixed-Up Tales . The Children’s Company, March 1976. Directed by Joyce Piven, music by Shira Piven.

Clippings

Mixed-Up Tales . The First Children’s Company, April 19-May 29, 1976. Directed by Joyce Piven.

Clippings and promotional material
Script material: Arachne
Script material: Guifa
Script material: The Mixed-Up Feet
SEE: Oversize folder 1 for production poster

Chekhov: Some Family Portraits . The Theatre Workshop, October 28-December 3, 1977. Conceived and directed by Byrne Piven, set design by Michael Merritt, lighting by Robert Shook, graphics by Yuri Rasovsky.

Programs
Promotional material
Reviews and clippings

Aesop’s Greatest Hits , book by Jack Badolfsky, music by Dick Reynolds. Young People’s Company, May 1978. Directed by Byrne and Joyce Piven.

Clippings
SEE: Oversize folder 1 for production poster

Aesop’s Greatest Hits , book by Jack Badolfsky, music by Dick Reynolds. Young People’s Company, December 26-30, 1978. Directed by Byrne and Joyce Piven.

Program (supplementary), promotional material

Something Is There , stories by Anton Chekhov, William Faulkner, James Joyce and Isaac Bashevis Singer. March 9-April 18, 1982. Conceived and directed by Byrne Piven, set design by Lynn [Franklin] Hirsch, costume design by Trina Ciuffo Bruce, lighting by Tom Hagglund; with Byrne and Joyce Piven, Bernard Beck and Aidan Quinn.

Program, promotional material
Reviews and clippings
SEE: AV/Box 1 for production photograph
SEE: Oversize folder 1 for production poster

Singer and His Demons , an evening of stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer. The Performance Company, May 13-June 26, 1983. Original music by Hans Wurman, sets designed by Lynn Hirsch, costumes by Elizabeth Passman, lighting design by Dan Rowley; with Bernard Beck, Joyce Piven and John Cusack.

Programs
Promotional material
SEE: Oversize folder 1 for production poster

A Gaggle of Geese and Then Some . The Junior Company in the 3rd Annual Spring Story Theatre Festival, [1983]. Directed by Susan Applebaum.

Promotional material
Script material: The Clever Thief

A Plum for Everyone . The Young People’s Company in the 3rd Annual Spring Story Theatre Festival, [1983]. Directed by Joyce and Shira Piven.

Promotional material

The Stuff of Dreams (Young People’s Company) and Wishes in the Wings (Junior Company) in the 4th Annual Spring Story Theatre Festival, [1984]. The Stuff of Dreams directed by Joyce and Shira Piven, with John Cusack; Wishes in the Wings directed by Susan Applebaum.

Promotional material

Birds of a Feather . The Junior Company in the [5th] Spring Story Theatre Festival, [1985]. Directed by Susan Applebaum.

Promotional material

Mamet : City Sketches , The Sanctity of Marriage and Duck Variations . November 7-December 29, 1985. Directed by Byrne Piven, sets and lights by John Aldridge, costumes by Tom Donaghy, sound by Robert Milburn; with Bernard Beck, Byrne Piven, Shira Piven and Dick Cusack.

Programs
Promotional material
Reviews and clippings

Violence: The Misadventures of Spike Spangle, Farmer , by Tim Robbins and Adam Simon, based on the Mousecamp Adventures of J. Cusack and T. Robbins. November 11-December 28, 1986. Directed by Byrne Piven, musical direction by Shira Piven, sets by John Aldridge, lights by Mary Guca and John Aldridge, costume by Lisa Taylor; with Tim Hopper, Shira Piven, Jeremy Piven and Paul Quinn.

Program, promotional material, reviews and clippings

Some Medicine for Melancholy . The Young People’s Company, 7th Annual Spring Story Theatre Festival, May 1-23, 1987. Joyce Piven, Susan Applebaum and Shira Piven, directors.

Promotional material
Script material: Arachne

American Wives , an Evening of Story Theatre. March 18-26, 1988. Directed by Joyce Piven, lighting designed by Mary Guca, music by Steve Powell, costumes by Claudia Boddy, sets by Bruce Branson-Meyer.

Program

Angels and Wizards . The Young People’s Company in the 8th Annual Spring Story Theatre Festival, May 6-21, 1988. Directed by Susan Applebaum.

Clippings
SEE: Oversize folder 1 for production poster

Macbeth by William Shakespeare. Directed by Byrne Piven. Set design by David Tennenbaum (with Michael Merritt as consultant), lights by Lee Watson, costumes designed by Claudia Boddy, sound design by Jeff Bek, video composer, Miroslaw Rogala; with Byrne, Joyce and Jeremy Piven and Harry Lennix.

Benefit, September 17, 1988
Curriculum guide
Programs
Promotional material

The Outsider . The Young People’s Company in the [9th] Annual Spring Story Theatre Festival, May 5-20, 1989.

Promotional material

American Voices , great short stories on stage by James Baldwin, Eudora Welty, Carson McCullers and John Bell Clayton. April 20-June 3, 1990. Directed by Byrne and Joyce Piven and Paul Quinn. Lighting design by Andrew Meyers, sound design by Nathan Sturm, sets by Lynn Hirsch.

Contact sheet
Press releases, promotional material
Production budget
Programs
Reviews
Teacher’s guide
Script material: Lily Daw and the Three Ladies , by Eudora Welty
Script material: Sonny’s Blues , by James Baldwin
Script material: Sucker , by Carson McCullers
SEE: Oversize folder 1 for production poster

Mothers and Daughters , a cross cultural collage. February 19-March 2, 1991. Directed by Joyce and Shira Piven; with Ann Cusack.

Programs
Promotional material
Reviews and clippings
Prompt script: Beloved
Script material: Beloved , by Toni Morrison

BOX 2: 1991/1992 - with undated production material

PRODUCTIONS

1991/1992

General season

Promotional material

Women in Shakespeare . November 1991. Directed by Shira Piven.
Curriculum guide

Reviews
SEE: Oversize folder 1 for production poster

Coming of Age . The Young People’s Company in the 20th (?) Annual Spring Story Theatre Festival.

Script material: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter , by Carson McCullers

Mud , by Maria Irene Fornes. November 22-December 20, 1992, at the Victory Gardens Theater. Directed by Joyce Piven, sets designed by Bill Cusack, lighting by R. Lee Kennedy, costumes by Allison Reeds, music by Shira Piven; with Lili Taylor and Paul Quinn.

Cast list and casting
Contracts, Actors’ Equity correpondence
Correspondence
Press releases, promotional material
Production budget and notes
Programs
Prop moves, production calendar and miscellaneous production information
Research
Reviews and clippings
Script, marked with lines changes and notes
Script (published)
Theatre Building lease (sample)

The Shoemakers , based on a story by Isaac Bashevis Singer. April 25-June 18, 1995, at the Famous Door Theatre. Directed by Shira Piven, sets by Danila Korogodsky; with Byrne Piven.

Promotional material
Script, marked with notes and line changes
Promotional material and contact sheet for staged reading (December 6, n.y.).

Sadie in Love , based on Love Knots by Rochelle Distelheim. June 9-July 1, 1995. Directed by Joyce Piven, sets by Lynn Hirsch and costumes by Elizabeth Passeman; with Bernard Beck.

Benefit, June 4, 1995
Contact sheets
Contract
Press release, promotional material
Production expenses
Reviews and clippings
Script, marked with line changes and notes
Script material (published excerpt)

Top Girls , by Caryl Churchill. June 6-July 6, 1997. Directed by Joyce Piven, sets designed by Bob Smith, costumes by Cesi Rubalcava.

Promotional material, press release
Reviews
Scene breakdown

Undated production materials

Cat’s Eye , by Margaret Atwood.

Script material

Chekhov: Toward the Cycle: Litko by David Mamet and The Man in 605 by Alan Gross. Litko with William H. Macy, and The Man in 605 with Aidan Quinn, Dick Cusack, Byrne Piven and Mark Miller.

Program
SEE: AV/Box 1 for production photographs of The Man in 605

Children of War (War’s Children) .

Script material

A Circle of People: Four by Anton Chekhov. Adapted and directed by Shira Piven.

Promotional material

The Conversion of Leo Novotny , by Alan Gross. December 18-[?]. Directed by Chuck Smith, with Byrne Piven and Cedric Young.

Promotional material

In Spite of Everything , by Sigfrid Siwertz.

Script material

A Temple of the Holy Ghost.

Script, marked “Final Draft 1/11/88”

Young People’s Company

General

Press release
Poster: Bits and Pieces (SEE: Oversize folder 1)
Script material: The Brocaded Slipper
Script material: The Elephant’s Child
Script material: The Glass Cupboard
Script material: Greek myths
Script material: The Lampstand Princess
Poster: Old Tales by the Young (SEE: Oversize folder 1)
Script material: The Soul-Taker
Script material: The Wisdom of Solomon

Ready or Not , NBC-TV Channel 5. March 14, [?].

Promotional material

BOX 3: Workshop

General

Story Theatre

Promotional material

Young People’s Company

General promotional material and clippings

Founders

Byrne and Joyce Piven: Clippings
SEE: AV/Box 1 for photographs of the Piven family

Byrne Piven: Clippings
Byrne Piven: Clippings for The Man in 605 , by Alan Gross (1980-1981) SEE: AV/Box 1 for photographs of Byrne Piven

Joyce Piven
SEE: AV/Box 1 for photographs of Joyce Piven

Alumni

John Cusack: Clippings

Lecy Goranson: Clippings

New Crimes Productions: Production information for Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas , by Hunter Thompson (December 19-January 4, 1992)
SEE: Oversize folder 1 for a production poster
New Crimes Productions: Production information for Methusalem, by Ivan Goll
(September 13-October 8, 1989)

Jeremy Piven: Clippings

Aidan Quinn: Clippings
SEE: AV/Box 1 for photographs of Aidan Quinn

Lili Taylor: Clippings

[1974-1975]

Promotional material

1978-1979

Clippings
Promotional material

1980-1981

Promotional material

1982-1983

Clippings

1983-1984

Promotional material

1984-1985

Promotional material

1985-1986

Promotional material

1986-1987

Promotional material

1987-1988

Clippings
Promotional material

1988-1989

Promotional material

1989-1990

Clippings

1990-1991

Clippings
Promotional material

1991-1992

Promotional material

1992-1993

Promotional material

1993-1994

Promotional material

1994-1995

Promotional material

1995-1996

Promotional material

1996-1997

Promotional material

1997-1998

Promotional material

1998-1999

Promotional material

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