Childhood & Early Life
Shira Piven was born on October 8, 1961, in the New York City, U.S., to Joyce and Byrne Piven. She grew up with her brother, Jeremy, who went on to become an actor.
Shira was introduced to the world of acting and theater early in life, as both her parents were actors. The family lived in New York until Shira was 6 years old. Soon, they moved to Evanston, Illinois, where Shira joined a school. Her parents started an acting workshop when Shira was still a child. She also began learning acting from parents. Her parents also taught acting to John Cusack, who is now a popular Hollywood actor.
She attended theater sessions regularly and watched the rehearsals and plays that her parents were associated with.
Ever since she was a kid, Shira knew that she wanted to make a career as an actor in plays. She was also interested in direction.
However, while pursuing her stage dreams, she did not neglect her education. Following her high-school graduation, she joined the ‘Bennington College’ for higher studies.
After completing her studies, she forayed into a theatrical career full-time.
Continue Reading Below
You May Like
In the 1980s and the 1990s, Shira played many roles in theatrical productions and gained experience as an actor. Toward the late 1990s, she started her own theater company, the ‘Water Theatre Company.’
One of the earliest hit shows of the company, ‘Pilgrims,’ was adapted by Shira from a short story written by author Elizabeth Gilbert. The show was produced by Mike Nichols and was staged at many venues in the country.
Throughout her directing career until now, Shira has directed about 20 plays, and most of them have been original productions. Her shows have traveled to major theaters in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
She worked as the founder and the artistic director of the ‘Water Theatre Company’ until 2003. However, she resigned from her position due to her busy schedule.
Following this, she mostly worked as a freelance theater director. She has directed three widely acclaimed plays for the Washington D.C.-based theater company ‘Theatre J.’
She also worked as a director and a founding member of the spontaneous theater group ‘Burn Manhattan.’ It is a highly famous group known for its fully improvised physical theatrical acts. The group has, by now, performed at many venues in New York and is known as one of the most famous theatrical groups in the city.
She also moved to Los Angeles briefly and developed and directed plays for theatrical companies there. She staged the plays ‘Little’ and ‘All Cake No File’ for ‘The Actors’ Gang.’ She also worked on the play titled ‘Fully Loaded’ for the ‘UCB Theatre.’
She also moved to Pasadena, California, and worked for the ‘Pasadena Playhouse.’ She then moved to Connecticut, where she worked at the ‘Hartford Stage.’ She roped in popular film and TV actor Ed Asner to play the lead role in the play titled ‘Number of People.’
She was invited by Nora Ephron to organize a workshop and to develop a book with her, titled ‘Love, Loss and What I Wore for the Stage.’ Shira also worked with Cindy Caponera, when she cast her in the play titled ‘A Debutante’s Ball.’ The play was staged in New York and Chicago.
Continue Reading Below
Apart from her stage and theatrical productions, Shira has also worked for TV projects. She has written and directed many short films, such as ‘That’s Not Racist.’ She has also developed many short films using the technique of improvisation, such as ‘The Dog Park’ and ‘Self Help Group.’
In 2011, she made her feature-film debut when she wrote and directed her debut feature film, ‘Fully Loaded.’ The independent film was based on a play of the same name. The film was rejected by both the audiences and the critics. However, it was praised at various film festivals.
The film won the ‘Audience Favorite Feature Film Award’ at the ‘Palm Beach International Film Festival.’ The film was also featured at the ‘Newport Beach Film Festival.’
She also directed documentary films such as ‘The Beast and the Angel’ and ‘Lifecasters.’ ‘The Beast and the Angel’ was showcased at the ‘Lincoln Center Film Society’ and was featured on ‘PBS.’
She got a major breakthrough in film direction when she directed her 2015 film ‘Welcome to Me.’ The comedy–drama film starred Kristen Wiig in the lead role of a multi-millionaire woman with borderline personality disorder.
The film earned massive critical acclaim after its release. However, being an independent film, it received a small release, which limited its box-office earnings to just over half a million USD.
However, it turned out to be a breakthrough project for Shira. Since the release of the film, she has directed single episodes of the series ‘Divorce,’ ‘Sweetbitter,’ ‘Claws,’ and ‘Room 104.’
Apart from directing, Shira is also associated with other endeavors. In 2006, she was hired to coach several actors for the film ‘Talladega Nights.’ She also works with ‘The Actors’ Gang’ prison project, teaching acting to the inmates at the ‘CRC’ prison in Ohio.