STORYBOX UNSCRIPTED THEATRE: Home Page
"This show weaves improv's history with new, innovative techniques. It has elements of a Grecian Chorus, Commedia, and Spolin, using ensemble narrative, theatrical agreements, and complete support. It blends storytelling with movement and modern long-form transitions. This work is rare and uniquely seamless." - Jet Eveleth, CIF's Co-Artistic Director, 2010
Update: March 15, 2010
With only five hours of rehearsal, 8 improvisers (3 from Atlanta, 3 from Chicago, 1 from Athens, and 1 from Austin), several of whom first met each other at the Saturday afternoon rehearsal/workshop, banded together to do two performances of Storybox Atlanta at the 2nd annual Spontaneous Combustion Atlanta festival produced by Becky Brett and JStar.
Both performances, were very well received by audiences and improvisers alike. The SCA staff who saw both shows were blown away by the form and the shows. Performing in the Storybox Atlanta ensemble were George Ackers, Chris Bogue, F Tyler Brunet, Keith Habersberger, Topping Haggerty, Jim Karwisch, Shannon Noll, and Pat Young. The rehearsal was taught and directed by Storybox's creator Jonathan Pitts, who also performed in both shows.
SCA producer Becky Brett described the Storybox Atlanta performances as "mesmerizing". Pitts said this about the weekend at SCA, "Without the acceptance and help from the SCA, the process which was shared by improvisers from 4 cities, as well as the audiences who watched, would never have happened, so my big, big thanks to Becky, JStar, and SCA!"
Update: February 17, 2010
Storybox has been invited to perform in three regional improv festivals. The first is Atlanta's Spontaneous Combustion, March 10-14. The second is Champaign's Champaign Improv Fest, May 7-9 in downstate Illinois. The third is Minneapolis' Twin City Improv Festival, June 24-27, 2010.
Update: January 15, 2010
In the morning of December 14, 2009, Storybox For Kids did two shows at a Chicago area suburban area grammar school. Between both shows, the cast played to over 500 people. The cast included Marla Cacares, Matt Klingler, Jenn SavaRyan, Jeremy Schaefer and Alex Young.
Update: July 31, 2009
Over 30 international and North American theatre directors who attended this year's Directors Lab Chicago watched a performance of Storybox at the Piven Theatre. The international directors were from Canada, England, and Spain. Storybox was the only improvised show the directors saw during their week long activities. After the performance, there was a 30 minute Q&A for the directors with the Storybox cast and crew. The post-show discussion was moderated by Directors Lab Chicago assistant producer Jenny Montgomery.
Update: July 26, 2009
Jerry Schulman took several photos during Storybox's Saturday night performance at the Piven Theatre on July 25, 2009.
To see these photos, please click: Schulman's Storybox Photos
Update: July 14, 2009
Storybox was recommended in reviews from New City magazine and ChicagoCritic.com after they attended Storybox's opening weekend at the Piven Theatre.
To read the New City review, please click: New City
Update: July 10, 2009
To read the article, please click: Chicago Sun-Times
Update: July 9, 2009
To read the article, written in Norwegian, please click: OA
Update: July 3, 2009
To read the article, please click: Evanston Review
Update: May 29, 2009
PIVEN THEATRE AND CHICAGO IMPROV FESTIVAL PRODUCTIONS PRESENT STORYBOX, JULY 10 - AUG 2
Storybox: Within Every Story, There's Another Story
(EVANSTON, ILLINOIS - May 2009) Piven Theatre is collaborating with the Chicago Improv Festival Productions to present Storybox, created and developed by Chicago Improv Festival co-founder, Jonathan Pitts and directed by Nick Johne. Storybox will run July 10 - August 2 at the Piven Theater (927 Noyes Street, Evanston). Shows are every Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 and they are available by calling Piven Theatre's box office at 847.866.8049.
Storybox is an improvised play that draws upon the theatrical techniques of Story Theatre, Noh Theatre, Viewpoints, Grotowski and long-form narrative improvisation. With every show, the cast creates a unique journey of characters, style and tone. Sometimes dramatic, sometimes comedic, most times a vibrant mixture of both, Storybox brings the audience a compelling and powerful production of unscripted theatre.
"Storybox is improvised, but it is not improv," explains director Nick Johne. "It's a new form of theatre. In our show, the most important characters are the storytellers and the story itself. As the director, what I want to bring is a constant transformational process for the actors and the audience."
"In improv comedy, improvisers aim for a group mind, but in Storybox we aim for a group heart. We have to feel the changes that occur as we follow our characters' life passages. As such, the sense of play is not between the players, but between the storytellers and the story" adds Storybox creator, Jonathan Pitts
The summer run of Storybox includes, Jen Green, Piven Theatre's artistic director as assistant director and Jonathan Wagner as musical director. The cast of eight features several Storybox vets including Matt Klingler, Jonathan Pitts, Jenn SavaRyan, Jeremy Schaefer, Jonathan Wagner, Kelly Williams, Joe Yau and guest actress Tale Berntsen, from Oslo, Norway. Tawny Newsome will be the company understudy.
Jen Green says, "I've been looking for years to find a way to take what we do here at the Piven with Story Theatre and have it become long-form. Through Storybox I feel we've found it and it is a very interesting fusion of ideas and techniques that we're proud to present. It's exciting because every show is so different. One weekend of Storybox is someone else's theatre season."
In the last five years, Storybox has performed in Chicago, Gjovik, Norway, Montreal, San Francisco and Toronto. The acclaimed production returns to the Piven for its second run and is co-produced by Piven and CIF Productions. Through the Piven, Storybox is Chicago's only improvised theatre production included by an Equity theatre as part of their regular 2008/2009 season. Each performance will run 80 to 90 minutes in length without an intermission.
Besides featuring an international cast and crew, all four Sunday matinee shows will be webcast live via Skype from the Piven Theatre in Evanston to Gjovik, Norway and Oslo, Norway.
About Piven Theatre:
For over 35 years, the Piven Theatre Workshop has remained a nationally respected acting school and professional Equity theatre. Within recent years, Piven Theatre has received Jeff Awards for Sound Design and Best New Adaptation, an After Dark Award for Outstanding Ensemble, and Jeff nominations for Best Ensemble and Best Original Score. Co-Founders Byrne & Joyce Piven have trained countless theatre artists such as John Cusack, 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 received numerous awards including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Chicago Improv Festival, the University of Chicago's Glorious Gargoyle Award for lifetime contribution to the theatre, the Chicago Drama League's Crystal Award, and the Joseph Jefferson Lifetime Achievement Award.
Update: March 20, 2009
Storybox Founder Receives Norway Article
Norway improv ensemble Norsk Sceneskrekk has invited CIF Executive Director and Storybox creator Jonathan Pitts to teach a Master Class for their improv festival taking place in March. They've also asked him to teach Storybox workshops to their ensemble before and after their festival.
Norsk Sceneskrekk's founder and CIF Artistic Associate Marianne Steinsrud said, "We love Storybox. We watched three Storybox dvds and made up our minds we wanted Jonathan to come teach here at our festival and work with our ensemble".
Says Pitts, "I'm really excited to go another country to teach Storybox and also to have the opportunity to improvise with international improvisers. I've heard great things about Norway, so I'm looking forward to visiting there. I'm already a big fan of both Marianne and Norsk Sceneskrekk so I know this will be a fun week." He will be in Norway from March 17-24.
For more info about Norsk Sceneskrekk, please click: Norway
Storybox alumni Nick Johne was tapped by CIF Executive Director and Storybox creator Jonathan Pitts to direct the upcoming summer run of Storybox at the Piven Theatre. The show, which is part of Piven Theatre's regular season, runs Fridays-Sundays, July 10-August 2, and is a co-production between CIF Productions and Piven Theatre.
Nick Johne just finished directing Holiday Storybox , an all-ages show which also ran at the Piven in December of 2008. Nick Johne performed for three years as a company member of Storybox. Johne says, "I'm really excited to direct this upcoming run of Storybox. I feel it is a great opportunity and I'm really looking forward to working with everyone."
Piven Theatre's Artistic Director Jen Green has agreed to be the show's Assistant Director. Piven Theatre's Emelia Zuckerman will be the show's Stage Manager. CIF Musical Director Jonathan Wagner will be the show's musical Director. Piven Theatre Co-Founder and CIF Lifetime Achievement Award winner Joyce Piven will teach the cast a special workshop on Transformations.
The summer run will be the first time anyone other than Pitts has directed the adult version of Storybox. Says Pitts, "As Storybox keeps growing, I want more people to be able to know how to direct the show. This is a great start. I know Nick gets the show inside and out. By bringing theatre artists like Jen Green and Joyce Piven to work with us on the project, we will further expand our vocabulary of theatrical story-telling possibilities."
The cast chosen by Nick Johne for the summer run include Storybox vets: Matt Klingler, Jonathan Pitts, Jenn SavaRyan, Jeremy Schaefer, Jonathan Wagner, Kelly Williams, and Joe Yau.