Piven Theatre Presents NUMBER OF PEOPLE 3/6-4/11

Piven Theatre Workshop continues its 2009-10 season with the world premiere of Number of People, written and directed by Emilie Beck. The production will run March 6 - April 11, 2010 at Piven Theatre Workshop, 927 Noyes Street. The press opening will be Monday, March 8, 2010 at 7:30 p.m.

Meet Leo Gold, an aging statistician and Holocaust survivor, who in this one-man show recounts his legacy and fading memories of the past. Number of People illuminates the nobility of one who struggles to hold onto his love, compassion, memory and identity out of one of the most horrible catastrophes in history. This moving one-man show is written and directed by Emilie Beck, who returns to Piven after her 2008 award-winning production, Because They Have No Words. The piece was written specifically for the playwright's father, Piven Ensemble Member Bernard Beck.

"Emilie Beck's Number of People speaks beautifully to the challenges of aging and the intangible nature of memory. The world premiere production will bring together generations of the Piven community, poignantly illustrating the cycles of creativity so integral to our mission," says Artistic Director Jennifer Green. "Number of People showcases the work of two acclaimed artists who have long been part of the Piven Theatre Workshop family: writer and director Emilie Beck, and veteran actor and Piven Resident Ensemble Member Bernard Beck. That the play was written for Bernard by his daughter and will also be directed by her is a highlight in Piven's 11th season.

The cast of Number of People features Piven Ensemble Member Bernard Beck.

The designers are Sibyl Wickersheimer (scenic design), Jack Arky (sound design), John Horan (lighting design), and Bill Morey (costume design). John Kearns* is the stage manager and Jodi Gottberg is the production manager. Aaron Menninga is the technical director.

Emilie Beck (playwright, director) In 2008 Emilie directed the Jeff Award winning, Because They Have No Words by Tim Maddock and Lotti Louise Pharriss at the Piven Theatre in Chicago. She developed the script with the playwrights, and directed the world premiere at the Lounge Theatre in Los Angeles. The production won a Jeff Award for Best Sound Design and was nominated for: a Jeff Award for Best Ensemble; Ovation Awards for Best Ensemble and Best World Premiere Play; LA Weekly Award for Best Ensemble; and Garland Awards for Best Director and Best Ensemble. As a playwright Emilie's script, Number of People, was presented at the Hartford Stage's Brand: NEW Festival (2007), with Edward Asner in the role of Leo Gold. The play was previously developed as part of Pasadena Playhouse's Hothouse Series (2006) and Piven Theatre's New Works Festival (2006), and has been given staged readings for benefits at the Peninsula Jewish Community Center, University Synagogue in Irvine (both performed by Mr. Asner), and the HartFord Foundation Conference on Aging. In 2003 Emilie wrote and directed And Let the Skies Fall at the El Portal Circle Theatre in an acclaimed Los Angeles premiere (Critic's Pick in BackStage West; Nominated for six Garland Awards, including Best Playwriting and Best Director). Emilie directed a workshop of Diane Rodriguez' Under Her Wings at Calarts, with Liz Torres in the leading role, and a workshop production of Samantha Bennett's Kiss the Monster. In the fall of 2008 Emilie co-directed and produced the Ovation Awards ceremony. She will direct Block Nine by Tom Stanczyk at the Elephant Theatre in LA in the summer of 2009. She currently lives in Los Angeles and is at work on her new play: Invasion of a Sovereign Body.

Bernard Beck* (Leo Gold) is a Resident Ensemble Member at Piven Theatre Workshop and also attended classes himself. He appeared in the first Piven production, Chekhov: Some Family Portraits, and over 30 years later in What Dreams May Come. He began his Chicago acting life in Paul Sills' pioneering Story Theater and has been seen on stage at Piven (in countless shows including Three Sisters, King Lear, Mad Forest, The Mad Dancers, Piven alum Sarah Ruhl's Eurydice, and many story theatre presentations of the works of Chekhov, I.B. Singer, Malamud, and Faulkner), the Organic (Bleacher Bums, Jonathan Wild and ER: Emergency Room), Victory Gardens, Wisdom Bridge (Awake and Sing! and Only Kidding!), St. Nicholas (James Lapine's Table Settings under the direction of the playwright), Practical, Drury Lane South (The Odd Couple), Northwestern University Theatre (Lydie Breeze), and in Jewish-themed works at National Jewish Theatre (The Dybbuk, I Can Get It For You Wholesale, Bitter Friends, among others) and Chicago Jewish Theatre (Today I Am a Fountain Pen). Beck has appeared in more of Piven alum Alan Gross's plays than any other actor, including The Phone Room, The Man in 605 and La Brea Tarpits. Last season he was featured at the Silk Road Theatre Project in Motti Lerner's controversial prize-winning Israeli play Pangs of the Messiah. He is known to generations of Chicago Jewish children as Hershel in the Yiddish Theatre Ensemble's classic production of Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins. Beck, and his wife, Sherry were on the victorious Jonah team in the first Chicago Improv Olympics competition. Beck also appeared as Al Capone's lawyer in the TV series The Untouchables. His children, Emilie and Raphe, were Piven Theatre Workshop students who went on to great achievements in theater; last year, Emilie returned to the Piven Theatre to direct Because They Have No Words.For over 35 years, the Piven Theatre Workshop has remained a nationally respected acting school and professional Equity theatre. Within recent history, Piven Theatre has received a Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Sound Design, and an After Dark Award for Outstanding Ensemble. The theatre has also received several Joseph Jefferson Recommendations, a Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Adaptation, and Jeff nominations for Best Original Score, and Best Ensemble. Co-Founders Byrne & Joyce Piven have trained countless theatre artists such as John and Joan Cusack, Kate Walsh, Aidan Quinn, Lili Taylor and Jeremy Piven, to name only a few. Stagebill honored the Pivens with the designation "Chicago's first family of acting." The Pivens have been awarded the Evanston Mayors Award for the Arts, Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Chicago Improv Festival, and the University of Chicago's Glorious Gargoyle Award for lifetime contribution to the theatre. They were named 1996 Artists of the Year by the Chicago Tribune and were recipients of the Chicago Drama League's 1998 Crystal Award. In 2000, they were awarded a Joseph Jefferson Lifetime Achievement Award. For more information, please visit www.piventheatre.org.

Synopsis: Meet Leo Gold, an aging statistician and Holocaust survivor, who in this one-man show recounts his legacy and fading memories of the past. Number of People illuminates the nobility of one who struggles to hold onto his love, compassion, memory and identity out of one of the most horrible catastrophes in history. This moving one-man show is written and directed by Emilie Beck, who returns to Piven after her 2008 award-winning production, Because They Have No Words. The piece was written specifically for the playwright's father, Piven Ensemble Member Bernard Beck.

Previews are March 6 & March 7, 2010. The opening press performance is on Monday, March 8, 2010, at 7:30 p.m. Curtain times are 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; and 2:30 p.m. on Sundays.

Ticket prices are $15 for preview performances and $25 for regular run performances. Tickets are available at the Box Office, 927 Noyes Street, Evanston; (847) 866-8049 or online at www.piventheatre.org. Student and group rates are available by calling the box office at 847-866-8049 or visiting the website at www.piventheatre.org.

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