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David Ives (born July 11, 1950 in Chicago) is a contemporary American playwright. His plays have appeared both Off-Broadway and on Broadway. He has written for the New York City Center Encores! staged concert series for many years.
A native of South Chicago, Ives attended Northwestern University, majoring in English. After graduation he wrote plays and worked at a bookstore in Hollywood. He then worked for three years as a junior editor at Foreign Affairs magazine in New York City. He attended the Yale School of Drama in 1981, where he received an MFA in playwriting.
In the mid-1990s, after having been a contributor to Spy Magazine, Ives wrote occasional humor pieces for the New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, and other publications. In that same period, New York magazine named him one of the "100 Smartest New Yorkers".
Ives' first play in New York was Canvas, staged at the Circle Repertory Company in 1972, followed at the same theatre by Saint Freud in 1975. In 1987 his short play Words, Words, Words was presented at the Manhattan Punch Line Theatre, followed by Sure Thing, Variations on the Death of Trotsky, Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread (1990), and The Universal Language. A two-act play, ''Ancient History was produced Off-Broadway in 1989 by Primary Stages.
Ives All in the Timing originated as a presentation of six of his one-act plays that premiered at Primary Stages in 1993, moved to the larger John Houseman Theatre, and ran for 606 performances. He won the Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award for Playwriting. A New York Times writer described Ives' work: "In the world of the playwright David Ives, situations float at the far edge of the social map and quickly drift off into uncharted territory." Primary Stages presented a revival of All in the Timing in January 2013 to April 2013, writing "When this evening of six one-act comedies premiered in 1993, Vincent Canby of 'The New York Times' said 'Ives is wizardly...magical and funny...a master of language." Canby also told audiences 'Drop-everything-and-go!'--and audiences did, for more than 600 performances. This new production, directed by John Rando, includes plays like "Sure Thing" and "The Universal Language" which have become contemporary classics..."
English Made Simple premiered at the Seattle Repertory Theatre in April 1994, directed by Bill Irwin with Liz McCarthy as Jill and R. Hamilton Wright as Jack, and John Aylward as the Loudspeaker Vioce.
Most of his short plays can be found in the anthologies All in the Timing. and Time Flies. His full-length plays up to 2005 are collected in Polish Joke And Other Plays. The title play, Polish Joke, provides a glimpse into Ives's Polish-American background.
In 2006 he wrote a new translation of Georges Feydeau's farce, A Flea in Her Ear, which premiered in Chicago. It won a Joseph Jefferson ("Jeff") Award for adaptation. Is He Dead?, ran on Broadway from December 2007 to March 2008, and is adapted from an "unproduced 1898 comedy" by Mark Twain. New Jerusalem, concerning the excommunication of Baruch Spinoza, opened Off-Broadway in January 2008 (previews from December 2007) in a Classic Stage Company production. New Jerusalem' won a Hull-Warriner Award.
In 2010, he adapted Pierre Corneille's comedy The Liar for The Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C. It won the Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play at the Helen Hayes Awards in Washington the following year. In 2011 his version of Molière's The Misanthrope premiered Off-Broadway at Classic Stage Company under the title, The School For Lies. Also in 2011 his adaptation of Jean-Francois Regnard's Le Legataire universel premiered at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C. under the title, The Heir Apparent. The Heir Apparent opens Off-Broadway in March 2014 (previews) at the Classic Stage Company.
Venus in Fur opened Off-Broadway at the Classic Stage Company in January 2010 with Nina Arianda and Wes Bentley. Venus in Fur premiered on Broadway in October 2011 (previews) at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club. Nina Arianda returned to the role she created Off-Broadway and Hugh Dancy played the role originated by Bentley. Walter Bobbie once again directed. The play transferred to the Lyceum Theatre in February 2012 for an extended run with Arianda and Dancy reprising their performances.
In the early 1990s Ives started working in musical theatre, writing the libretto for an opera based on Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden (music by Greg Pliska). It premiered in Philadelphia in 1991 at the Pennsylvania Opera Theater.
He then became a regular adapter for the New York City Center Encores! series of American musicals in concert, starting with Out Of This World in 1995, Du Barry Was A Lady in 1996, and working on two or three a year until 2012. As of 2013, Ives ended his writing for Encores!, saying "I've very happily done 33 adaptations for Encores! But there comes a time when it's time for someone else to have that pleasure, especially given how full my platter is these days." His Encores! adaptation of Wonderful Town moved to Broadway's Al Hirschfeld Theatre in 2003, directed by Kathleen Marshall.
He adapted David Copperfield's magic show, Dreams and Nightmares, which premiered on Broadway at the Martin Beck Theatre in December 1996. He also adapted Cole Porter's Jubilee (1998) and Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific (with Reba McEntire) for concert performances at Carnegie Hall, as well as My Fair Lady for a staged concert at Avery Fisher Hall in New York in 2007.
He helped to rework the book for the Broadway version of the musical Dance of the Vampires, with book, music and lyrics by Jim Steinman and original German book and lyrics by Michael Kunze. The musical opened on Broadway in October 2002 in previews, but closed in January 2003 after 56 performances. He co-wrote the book for Irving Berlin's White Christmas, which premiered in San Francisco in 2004 and then went on to tour across the United States and had a limited engagement on Broadway in November 2008 to January 2009, and again in November 2009 to January 2010.
He is collaborating with Stephen Sondheim on a new musical.
Ives wrote a children's book, Monsieur Eek, which was released in 2001. The book is set in 1609, and is a "fairy tale–like story full of absurd characters who make bizarre interpretations..." His next book was Scrib (2005), set in the American West in 1863, which follows the adventures of the teen-aged "Scrib", who writes letters and delivers mail. His latest book is Voss, which was released in 2008.
Ives lives in New York City with his wife, Martha.
- David Ives, 2011 Goodreads Inc
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- Kempler,, Adam. "Rolling Along: Sondheim Discloses He’s Working on a New Show". ArtsBeat. New York Times. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
- "Review. 'Monsieur Eek' " publishersweekly.com, May 28, 2001
- "review. 'SCRIB' " publishersweekly.com, March 28, 2005
- "Book Reviews. 'Scrib'" kirkusreviews.com, February 15, 2005
- "Review. Voss: How I Come to America and Am Hero, Mostly" publishersweekly.com, October 20, 2008