Since his hit play All in the Timing, his first compilation of six one-acts, exploded on the theatrical scene in 1994, David Ives has been compared by critics to Beckett, Pinter, Ionesco and Tom Stoppard. But Ives claims closer ties with icons of comedy like Monty Python and Ernie Kovacs. "Maybe, it's just that Ives comes after Ionesco in the alphabet," suggests Ives. "But those playwrights aren't silly, and I aspire to silliness on a daily basis." Horizon produced the Southeastern premiere of All in the Timing in 1995 to great critical and popular acclaim, bringing it back for an encore run later that same year. All in the Timing premiered at Primary Stages in New York, ran Off-Broadway for more than two years and won the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Play. It has since seen nearly 100 productions across the country and was the most performed contemporary play in the nation in 1995-96. Mere Mortals premiered at Primary Stages in 1997 and enjoyed a lengthy Off-Broadway run..
Playwright David Ives grew up the son of working class parents on the South Side of Chicago, where at age nine he wrote his first play. "It was called Mr. Strang. No 'e.' I loved the bloodiness of it, and I was going to have the kids on my block perform it," he told the New York Daily News. "But then I realized you had to have a copy of the script for each person in the play, so that was the end of that." At 15 he saw Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn in Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance, and he knew then he wanted to be a playwright. He studied playwriting at Northwestern University and Yale Drama School. Early on he was a "serious writer" churning out, what he calls extravagant, existential scripts which "show you what a fool I was."
The daily quota of silliness really kicked in "sometime around 1985, when I turned into David Ives," he says. It was then that Ives found his perfect medium--the one-act comedy. Cutting straight to the chase, Ives says that he prefers one-acts because, "they make their point and stop. The things I really like most are short, like Napoleon and great, popular songs." A fascination with love also often guides Ives' characters, as it does for Ives himself. "I go to the theater and the movies to watch people fall in love," he declares. "Chekhov said the engine that drives drama is men and women, and I think that's right."
David Ives' newest collection of six one-acts, Lives of Saints, will premiere in January 1999 at the Philadelphia Theatre Company. He has also written Ancient History, The Red Address, Seven Menus, Long Ago and Far Away and The Secret Garden. He has adapted two Cole Porter musicals, Out Of This World and DuBarry Was a Lady, for the Encores series at New York's City Center where his adaptation of Strike Up the Band was recently greeted with rave reviews. He is the author of an opera, short stories and numerous film, television and radio scripts. Currently at work on Snowball, an upcoming Disney film with Murray Schisgal, other screenplays include Mr. Sex and Pentagon Wars for HBO, and Travels With My Aunt for Hallmark Entertainment. A recipient of a playwriting grant from the New York State Council on the Arts and a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, Ives has taught at New York University and Columbia University. He writes plays in longhand with a blue bic pen.