A Letter from Artistic Director Jennifer Green
Dear Piven Community,
As we look forward to marking our 45th Anniversary, we are expanding our work to include a full year of artistic programming celebrating our community and their diverse contributions to the wider artistic community.
Overwhelmingly, in a time when important voices are under-represented, we look forward to celebrating this anniversary by highlighting the work of women in our community and curating a year-long conversation of art, community dialogue, and new works: The Women’s Voice’s Project.
This season features stellar weeks of youth driven adaptations, a month of improvisation and story, a professional premiere of a new work written by a local female playwright, and an expanded Lab series of devised new works. Throughout the season, all of our endeavors feature women in leadership and visionary roles. As master teachers, directors, adapters, writers, and devisors, women are at the forefront of these creative conversations and and through our work we honor the history and legacy of our founder Joyce Piven.
Our season begins with our acclaimed youth companies bringing two festivals of devised new works to the stage. This season, these adaptations meditate on the personal journeys of girls and the profound transformations of youth. Directed and adapted by eight women artists, these two ambitious productions serve as yearly examples of the Workshop’s dedication to challenging young artists and exploring new archetypes that embrace the changing world around us.
As part of this 45th year, we are increasing our commitment to provide more opportunity, space, and time for our community of artists to extend their creative reach. This year we expand our annual month-long improvisation series to include storytelling nights where novice and experienced practitioners can explore solo performance and personal story on the Piven stage. It is a month of multi-generation performance bringing all wings of our community together to tell a new tale, speak the truth, and embrace the audience around us.
These kinds of multi-generational conversations are especially resonant and relevant this season. The centerpiece of our work in the upcoming year is the
professional premiere of a new work by female Chicago playwright MT Cozzola, Dance for Beginners. Dance for Beginners is an intimate look at the beginnings of a relationship in the third act of life, and celebrates a strong female voice. With oceans separating them, they turn to dance to bring them closer together. Dance for Beginners was developed at Chicago Dramatists and was read at Piven as part of the summer of 2016 Lab season, and exemplifies the way the Lab cultivates relationships with new artists and new works.
As we look forward to marking our 45th Anniversary, we are expanding our Lab to include a full year of programming celebrating our alumni and their diverse contributions to the wider artistic community. Through the Lab, we are working to provide a home and voice to our students, teachers, visiting artists, and alums to collaborate, create, and share the many ways that Piven has influenced their work. Using the cornerstone of story, we invite our community back home to tell new tales while honoring the legacy that inspired it.
Overwhelmingly, women answered the call and over the course of the year, we are developing new works devised to explore the contributions of women.
As we continue to bring art to the center of community conversation, Piven is curating public events, panel discussions, and highlighting the work of women in community. Our last public program brought over 25,000 people into discussion surrounding justice based themes, with the Women’s Voices Project, we look forward to highlighting Evanston based organizations like the YWCA Evanston/Northshore, Story Studio Chicago, Girl Meets Voice, She is Code, Bookends & Beginnings, Gilo Kwesi Logan, Evanston Public Library, and Colleen Griffen Chappelle.
Since its founding, Piven Theatre Workshop has used improvisational play to encourage connection, creativity, and community engagement. Whether it is scripted or improvised, story or scene, performed by student or mentor, novice or artist, whether you are a speaker or listener, there is a place for you next season.