Joyce Piven — Actress, Director, and Master Teacher. Co-founder with her husband Byrne Piven and Artistic Director Emeritus of The Piven Theatre Workshop, Joyce Piven was one of the founding members and leading actresses at Playwrights Theatre Club, the group led by Paul Sills that spawned Compass Players and Second City. With Playwrights Theatre, Joyce played leading roles in Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Seagull, Round Dance, and Caucasian Chalk Circle. Joyce met her husband, Byrne Piven, while at Playwrights Theatre where he directed her in the critically acclaimed play The Dybbuk. In New York, they both studied with Uta Hagen and Mira Rostova while acting professionally and teaching extensively. Returning to Chicago, she and Byrne helped Paul Sills form the Second City Repertory Company (with Bernie Sahlins and Joyce Sloane) and Sills’ Story Theater Company. Highlights of her acting career include playing Lady MacBeth opposite her husband, Byrne, in a futuristic MacBeth, Bessie in Wisdom Bridge’s production of Awake and Sing, and Lillian Hellman in The Julia Project directed by Shira Piven at New York’s Greenwich Theatre. Most recently, she starred in an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations at Piven Theatre and performed in the Lookinglass Theatre’s Hard Times.
Joyce and Byrne Piven founded the Piven Theatre Workshop in the early seventies and served as co-artistic directors for thirty years until Byrne’s death in 2002. Joyce was the founding director of the Workshop’s famed Young People’s Company. Today, Joyce spends most of her time directing and teaching in Evanston and Los Angeles. She has directed Lili Taylor in the revival of Maria Irene Fornes’ Mud at Victory Gardens and the remounting of Sarah Ruhl’s Orlando at the Actor’s Gang in Los Angeles. At Piven Theatre, her directing highlights include: Rochelle Distelheim’s Sadie in Love, Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls, Sarah Ruhl’s adaptation of Orlando, Brilliant Traces by Cindy Lou Johnson, Speed-the-Plow by David Mamet, Collected Stories by Donald Margulies, Sarah Ruhl’s translation of Chekhov’s The Three Sisters as well as an early production of Ruhl’s Eurydice, and most recently Two by Pinter. Her literary story theatre productions include: Chekhov: The Stories, The Emerging Woman, What Dreams May Come, and American Visions Through Jewish Eyes. In L.A., she recently directed Suffragette Koan by Linda Carson. With Emmy Award winning son Jeremy and director/filmmaker daughter Shira, Joyce is dedicated to keeping the story theatre method and the Piven Theatre Workshop legacy alive and thriving.
Susan Applebaum, PHD — Adjunct Professor of Theatre at Loyola University Chicago and former adapter/director/teacher at the Piven Theatre Workshop Susan currently teaches dramatic literature and play analysis for the theatre division of the Department of Fine and Performing Arts at Loyola University Chicago. She has been on the faculty there in both full-time and adjunct capacities since 1975. Susan also has a longtime association with the Piven Theatre Workshop. Starting in the mid-seventies, Susan studied with Joyce Piven, taught classes for children and adults, and directed stories for the Young People’s Company. From 1983 to 1985, Susan served as Director of the Junior Company where she developed the story theatre productions Gaggle of Geese and then some…, Wishes in the Wings, and Birds of a Feather. In 1987, Joyce Piven went on sabbatical and Susan assumed her responsibilities for the Young People’s Company, where she directed the story theatre production Angels and Wizards.
Shortly after that period, Susan left the Workshop to pursue doctoral studies in Northwestern University’s interdisciplinary PhD program in theatre and drama. Her research on the theatrical representation of mentor mothers and female adolescent protagonists has been published in Theatre History Studies, the Youth Theatre Journal, and Encyclopedia of Girlhood. She has taught courses and seminars at Northwestern University, the University of Missouri-Kansas City, the University of Pittsburgh, and Loyola University Chicago. Earlier in her career, Susan was a founding member and choreographer for Synthesis Theatre in Fleetwood, Pennsylvania, where she acted in Michael Weller’s Moonchildren and Jean Giraudoux’s Amphitryon 38 and did choreography for The Canterbury Tales. Most recently, Susan understudied and stepped in as Anfisa in The Three Sisters at Piven Theatre.