Shira Piven was the child of theatre people and established herself as a director in Chicago and later in New York, where she was the founder and artistic director of Water Theatre Company between 1998 and 2003. Their hit show Pilgrims was and adapted and directed by Ms. Piven and produced by Mike Nichols. In NYC she also directed the groundbreaking, highly physical improv group Burn Manhattan.
Her second feature Welcome to Me was released in 2015 and stars Kristen Wiig in a comic-tragic story about a palm desert woman with borderline personality disorder who wins the lottery. Most recently she directed an episode of the series Transparent and an episode of One Mississippi for Amazon. Her first feature film Fully Loaded won the audience Favorite Feature award at Palm Beach International Film Festival and was released by Starz. She also directed a short documentary called The Beast and the Angel about legendary rock guitarist Wayne Kramer that premiered at Lincoln Center Film Society and aired on PBS.
Ms. Piven has taught acting and improvisation for stage and film for over 25 years, including coaching the sons in Talladega Nights, teaching Improv for Film and TV at UCB theatre, to her current work with the Actors Gang prison project where she teaches ensemble work, writing and commedia dell’arte to incarcerated men and women.