Joyce Piven

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Joyce Hiller Piven (born February 21, 1930) is an American director, teacher, and actress. She and her late husband, Byrne Piven, were actors in the Compass Players. Later they founded the Piven Theatre Workshop in Evanston, Illinois and became teachers to a generation of stars such as John Cusack, Joan Cusack, Aidan Quinn, Adam McKay, and their son Jeremy Piven and daughter Shira Piven.

She still teaches and directs at the Workshop and serves as the Artistic Director Emeritus.[1]


Piven was born Joyce Goldstein.[2] In 1954, she met Byrne Piven at the University of Chicago. They wed a short time later. They had their first child, Shira Piven, in 1961, and later had their second child, Jeremy Piven, in 1965. After the death of her husband, Byrne Piven, in 2002, she continued to reside and teach in Evanston, and eventually moved to Los Angeles in 2017 to be with her children and grandchildren.


In the 1950s, the Pivens were two of the founding members of the Playwrights Theatre Club, along with Paul Sills and David Shepard.

Playwrights featured such budding stars as Mike Nichols, Elaine May, Ed Asner and Barbara Harris. They later formed the Compass Players, a forerunner to The Second City.[3]

In 1970, Joyce and Byrne Piven founded the Piven Theater Workshop. Based in Evanston Illinois, the Workshop was founded with the goal of teaching acting through theater and improvisation games. The technique was relatively new at the time, with Joyce and Byrne having been mentored by Theater Game Theorist Viola Spolin, and continuing the practice in their individual work as well as through the workshop.

Joyce continued to direct and teach within the workshop until 2017, when she moved to Los Angeles to be with her children and grandchildren. She now teaches local theater intensives and courses, and privately coaches actors.

Published work[edit]

  • Piven, Joyce; Applebaum, Susan. In the studio with Joyce Piven : theatre games, story theatre, and text work for actors. Methuen Drama. ISBN 9781408173879.


  1. ^ "Piven Theatre Workshop - Acting Classes for Youths and Adults – Evanston/Chicago, IL". Retrieved 2017-08-10.
  2. ^ "Piven, Byrne". Retrieved 2017-08-10.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-11-15. Retrieved 2007-04-18.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)