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Current Season

current season theatre productionsOur 2018/2019 Season: IDENTITY

Piven Theatre Workshop proudly announces its 2018-2019 season on IDENTITY – a full year’s meditation on themes encompassing the struggle, challenges, and successes in defining oneself as in individual and as part of a community.
“For the past four years, Piven has created a thematic framework to guide and connect the wings of our institution,” said Piven’s Artistic Director Jennifer Green.
“By framing the organization as an artistic ecosystem, our training center and off-site theatre residencies, performance lab and main stage productions, community partnerships and audience development initiatives have all participated in exploring the overarching season theme,” Green continued, “and in doing so, Piven has found new ways that theatre can act as a hub for relevant, multigenerational, community-wide art making and conversation.”

From its micro-productions in the Lab at Piven, to its U.S. premiere of award-winning artist Kate Tempest’s Hopelessly Devoted, Piven Theatre Workshop’s IDENTITY Season kicks off in October and runs through summer of 2019.

PIVEN’S 2018/2019 SEASON

The Telling Project, October 10-21. With much the same courage demonstrated during their service to our country, local military personnel and family members share their authentic experiences with the goal to strengthen a sense of community and facilitating meaningful contact between civilians and those who have served. The Telling Project is a collaborative effort between The Naomi Ruth Cohen Institute for Mental Health Education at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, The Telling Project based out of Austin, Texas, and Piven Theatre Workshop.

Big Entrance – A Forte Chicago Show, November 2-4, 2018. Forte, Chicago’s leading company which intersects improvisation, opera, and sketch comedy is back on stage at Piven, and will feature Forte’s signature operatic comedic sketch work, composition and arrangements by Heidi Joosten, design by Sarah Bendix, and direction by Susan Payne O’Brien.

Santuario|Sanctuary, November 16-18, 2018. Proyecto Migración is a documentary theatre project exploring the parallel and divergent migrations of monarch butterflies and youth across the USA-Mexico border. Based on over 30 recent interviews with (im)migrants, nuns, volunteers, scientists, and law enforcement in the USA and Mexico, Proyecto Migración aims to highlight the multifaceted complexity of the border, where international law protects small insects yet abandon human beings to their deaths. Developed by Teresa Veramendi.

Piven Theatre Workshop’s Young People’s Company, December 12- 16, 2018. Piven’s renowned advanced youth ensemble comprises sophomore, junior, and senior-aged students who have studied at Piven Theatre Workshop and have advanced to the highest level within the youth programs. Performers work together as an ensemble to adapt new and historic literary works in the tradition of story theatre.

Lived Through This, January 14-15, 2019. Lived Through This, adapted from Anne K. Ream’s memoir of a multi-country journey spent listening to the stories of sexual violence survivors, is a play about hope. Part narrative about the lives lived after #MeToo, and part exploration of the ways survivors learn from one another and rebuild their lives in the wake of violence, Lived Through This is a celebration of a simple belief: that those who have survived rape or abuse are greater than what has been done to them. Developed by Marilyn Campbell-Lowe and Maya Friedler of the Women’s Media Group Chicago and Anne K. Ream of the Voices and Faces Project.

Piven Theatre Workshop’s Performance Project, February 11, 12 & 14-16, 2019. Piven’s advanced 7th-9th grade students comprise the ensemble of Performance Project. Working with fairy tales and myth, students work for months to adapt stories for the stage. This year’s stories will focus on the theme of Identity, through tales of gender, coming of age, and family.

ABCD/Mad Like Us, March 11-12, 2019. Two nights of two productions – ABCD directed by Iris Sowlat, and Mad Like Us written and directed by Gillian Hemme.

ABCD, an acronym for “American-Born Confused Desi”, is playwright/performer Rukmini Girish’s exploration of her identity as an Indian immigrant to the United States, the effect this has had on her perception of herself, her queer identity, her professional life, relationships with family, and her place within the Chicago arts community.

Mad Like Us invites us into the thin places. According to Celtic tradition, heaven and earth are only three feet apart, but in these thin places, that distance is even shorter. The very edge of a cliff on the wild west coast of County Kerry. A sandstone slot canyon in northern Arizona. Montrose Harbor at sunrise.When three sisters are separated and sent far from their hometown in Ireland, they seek out thin places in order to find one another again. And again.This modern Celtic myth is written and performed by Gillian Hemme.

Piven Theatre Workshop’s Capstone Production

The season will culminate with The Workshop’s capstone performance of the premiere of Kate Tempest’s Hopelessly Devoted, April 6-May 5, with preview performances on April 4 & 5, and directed by Abby Pierce.

Hopelessly Devoted tells the powerful story of Chess, a woman in prison facing a lengthy sentence, the pain of separation from her daughter, the loss of her cell mate, Serena, when she is given parole, and the feeling of total isolation. When prison authorities suggest she work with Silver, a music producer, Chess begins to find her voice, her strength, and her ability to face the most difficult thing of all – her past. Featuring award-winning poet and musician Kate Tempest’s trademark lyrical fireworks and live music, Hopelessly Devoted is a story of love and redemption.

Throughout the run of Hopelessly Devoted, Piven will offer talk backs and community conversations related to thematic elements of the production.

“In keeping with our continued commitment to community engagement,” said Jennifer Green, “Piven will connect with local nonprofits, small business sectors, and individuals as community partners to elevate the conversation to the wider community.”

“Last season,” she continued, “our partnerships with Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre and its Artistic Director Tim Rhoze, Dear Evanston and its founder Nina Kavin, along with several community organizations such as Open Communities and Family Promise, led to record-breaking attendance at our capstone production, and outstanding conversations throughout the year. We look forward to another such exceptional season starting in the fall.”

Dear Evanston Interview with Executive Director, Jen Green


Piven Theatre Workshop’s new season starts next month. Last season, Piven examined the concept of “Home.” From September to next May they’ll address the many aspects of “Identity.”

DE talked to Jennifer Green, Piven Theatre Workshop’s artistic director, about what to expect …

DE: How did you come up with your “Identity” theme for the coming Sept-May season?

JG: We always look to themes that are rich and diverse in subject. Our “Identity” season will explore how the struggle for who we are–as individuals, as families, as sexual and political beings–defines us.

So it will look at who we are. Who we want to be. What we reveal. What we hide. What binds us to others. What drives us apart. What promotes community. What fosters division. What holds us back or sets us free.

As artists in our community brought ideas throughout the year to the table, we saw “Identity” as a common theme that would provide ample opportunity for artistic inspiration for our youth performance companies, our season of lab performances, and our capstone production. More importantly, the theme is both a personal and universal meditation to bring to our wider population.

DE: How do you come up with your themes in general?

JG: All of our work strives to engage all participants in meaningful and relevant artistic conversations.

But, for the past several seasons, Piven has created a thematic framework to guide and connect the wings of our institution: the training center and off-site theatre residencies, the performance lab and main stage productions, the community partnerships and audience development initiatives.

As we’ve explored this thematic model, we’ve found new ways that theatre can act as a hub for relevant, multigenerational, community-wide art making and conversation.

We aim to make our themes broad and open to a variety of interpretations. To date, our themes have included: “Mercy,” “Women’s Voices,” “Home,” and now, “Identity.” And our 2019/2020 season will meditate on “Justice.”

Since we began these thematic explorations, we’ve seen a boost in audience engagement, student satisfaction, and overall community participation.

And in connecting local nonprofits, small business sectors, and individuals, with seeing, making, and talking about theatre, our community is also finding new ways to participate in the fabric of the broader Evanston community.

DE: “identity” follows your season about Home. Is there any connection?

JG: As many constituents in our community and nation grapple with an unprecedented political climate and the polarization of ideas, we want to incubate new spaces for community engagement and transformational dialogue.

Pathways for underrepresented voices to tell their stories are vital. In this way, the Home Season and Identity Project share a goal. Some of the pieces chosen for the Identity Project were originally submitted for the Home season, but were a better fit for this season.

DE: How many different plays in total can people look forward to? You usually have one main play. Will you be doing that this season?

JG: Our season incorporates new and emerging works through our Lab@Piven, with a larger capstone production that is the benchmark of the season. This coming season, we have eight Lab@Piven shows and one Capstone. Every show incorporates the theme of Identity in some way.