Reviews

“Who would have guessed that behind the darkest and most compelling acting there is a single driving force: play? Not only did Joyce and Byrne Piven figure out that play is the most honest action man can partake in, they systematized it so it can be taught and all aspiring and working actors can expand their range and truthfulness.”

 -Adam McKay, Director/Writer/Producer (Anchorman, Step Brothers, Talladega Nights)

“Joyce Piven’s teachings are revelatory. There are many lucky souls
who have studied with her and gone on to do great things; if you don’t
have the great good fortune of living in Chicago and studying with her
in person, you can now put into practice her insights with this book,
which is a treasure trove of material for teachers and students alike.
Joyce Piven has taught a generation of actors how to transform, and in
doing so, she has transformed our theater practice. I am grateful to
have her wisdom in print.”

-Sarah Ruhl, Award-Winning Playwright

“A great new book from Joyce Piven who I’ve known all my life. She’s a great voice.”

-John Cusack, Actor

“There are many training grounds for actors, but the Piven Theatre Workshop, founded by Joyce and Byrne Piven in the early seventies, and headquartered in Evanston, Illinois, is unique. Using adaptations of theatre games, improvisational techniques, and story theatre pioneered and developed by Viola Spolin and Paul Sills, the workshop does more than turn out actors, it produces creative artists with a superb understanding of, and feeling for community and text.

In Joyce Piven and Susan Applebaum’s new book, In the Studio with Joyce Piven: Theatre Games, Story Theatre, and Text Work for Actors (Methuen Drama), readers are presented with the philosophy and methods that achieve such profound results, as well as the tools to put them into practice. Divided into two parts, the book first explains the “Principles of game work, the encounter, and story theatre,” then draws readers into the workshop itself through meticulous descriptions of classes with its master teacher, Joyce Piven.  

At all times, the writing is both clear and engaging, presenting valuable insights for those involved in theatrical work. But, In the Studio with Joyce Piven has even broader applications, particularly for educators who are seeking inventive ways to teach children to work in consort with each other, or who want to convey the magic of storytelling.  What better way to do this than to make the student part of the story?

The authors of In the Studio with Joyce Piven have packed a wealth of wisdom and information into their book, and presented it in a thoughtful, instructive, and entertaining manner. It is a book for anyone who wants to learn, or teach, or simply look at the creative process in a new way.”


-Barbara Froman, author of Shadows and Ghosts

“University theatre programs and teachers of acting and directing everywhere will welcome this compelling new work.  Most everyone knows of the disproportionate amount of talent that has emerged from the Piven Theatre Workshop, but now the principles, practices, and ethos of the studio come fully to life in this lucid, behind-the-scenes, beautifully written articulation.  Richly influenced by threads of Uta Hagen, Viola Spolin, Sanford Meisner, Anne Bogart, Constanin Stanislavski and more, the Pivens have woven together a fabric that is uniquely their own — fresh and original.  Particularly helpful was the identification of the central “encounter” — a concept that leads inevitably to the truthful, soulful work that is a hallmark of the Piven Theatre Workshop.  Also invaluable is the explanation of sequencing and “payoff” moments from the workshops, told by voices of authority and experience.  An indispensable resource?  I suspect dog-eared copies will soon be hanging from the bags of outstanding teachers and directors, everywhere.”

-Rives B. Collins, Associate Professor of Theatre, Northwestern University and Immediate Past President, American Alliance for Theatre and Education (AATE)

“I have based much of my teaching on the work of Viola Spolin, Paul Sills, and Joe Chaikin.  This wonderful new book, In the Studio with Joyce Piven by Joyce Piven and Susan Applebaum, refreshes and reinvigorates the principles that we learned from those master teachers, while providing us with a generous and beautifully structured blueprint for using this work in our own teaching, directing and text-exploration.”

– Evamarii Johnson, Theatre Faculty California State Summer School for the Arts, (CSSA)  Voice & Text Director Centerstage Baltimore 

 
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