Ives, David 1951-

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Ives, David 1951-


Born 1951, in Chicago, IL; married; wife's name Martha. Education: Northwestern University, degree; Yale University, M.F.A. (playwriting).


Agent—c/o Publicity Director, HarperCollins, 10 E. 53rd St., New York, NY 10022.


Playwright and writer. Foreign Affairs (magazine), former editor; Encores! (theatre forum), New York, NY, artistic associate.

Awards, Honors

Guggenheim fellowship in playwriting; John Gassner Playwriting Award, Outer Critics Circle, for All in the Timing.



Canvas, produced in New York, NY, 1972.

Saint Freud, produced in New York, NY, 1975.

Ancient History, Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1990.

(Author of libretto) The Secret Garden (opera; based on the novel by Frances Hodges Burnett), music by Greg Pliska, produced in Philadelphia, PA, 1991.

Long Ago and Far Away, Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1994.

Don Juan in Chicago (produced in New York, NY, 1995), Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1995.

All in the Timing: Fourteen Plays (includes one-acts Sure Thing; Words, Words, Words; The Universal Language; Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread; The Philadelphia; and Variations on the Death of Trotsky; produced off-Broadway, 1996), Vintage Books (New York, NY), 1995.

Mere Mortals: Six One-Act Comedies (includes Time Flies and Mere Mortals and Others), Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1998.

The Land of Cockaigne; and English Made Simple, Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1998.

The Red Address, Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1998.

Arabian Nights (one act), produced in Louisville, KY, 1999.

Lives of the Saints: Seven One-Act Plays, Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 2000.

Time Flies, and Other Short Plays, Grove Press (New York, NY), 2001.

(Coauthor of book) Irving Berlin's White Christmas, produced in San Francisco, CA, 2004.

Polish Joke, and Other Plays, Grove Press (New York, NY), 2004.

Roll over, Beethoven, Playscripts, 2005.

(Translator and adaptor) Georges Feydeau, A Flea in Her Ear, produced in Chicago, IL, 2006.

The Other Woman, produced in New York, NY, 2006.

Author of one-act plays, including Babel in Arms; Captive Audience; Degas C'est Moi; Dr. Fritz; Enigma Variations; Moby Dude; or, The Three-Minute Whale; The Mystery at Twickham Vicarage; Foreplay; or, The Art of the Fugue; Singular Kind of Guy; Seven Menus; Soap Opera; The Vicarage; and Speed—The Play; and of Five Very Alive (one-act plays), produced in New York, NY, c. early 1990s. Adapter of other works for the stage, including Wonderful Town, Dreams and Nightmares, Jubilee, South Pacific, and Dance of the Vampires.


Monsieur Eek, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.

Scrib, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2005.


Playwright David Ives is known for his "dandy, dark wit," according to interviewer Randall Short in New York magazine. A native of Chicago, Ives grew up in the same neighborhood as fellow playwright and film director David Mamet, and he moved to New York City after earning a master's degree in playwriting from Yale University. While working as an assistant editor of Foreign Affairs, Ives wrote for the theatre and saw his first work produced on stage in the 1970s. Best known for All in the Timing: Fourteen Plays, a collection of one-act plays, Ives is also the author of the children's novels Monsieur Eek and Scrib.

Set in a tiny fictional town with a population of twenty-one, Monsieur Eek revolves around a shipwreck. Susan Dove Lempke, writing in Booklist, commented that Ives "mixes historical fiction, fantasy, and mystery into an entertaining story." A reviewer in Publishers Weekly described the novel's plot as a "fairy tale-like story full of absurd characters who make bizarre interpretations" and bring to life a story the critic deemed "a fun read with a thoughtful message." Ellen Fader, reviewing the book for School Library Journal, recommended Monsieur Eek for readers "who like nonstop action, a bit of shivery mystery leavened by humor, and a happily ever after ending."

Ives's second novel for young readers, Scrib, is the tale of a young letter writer named Billy Christmas. Living in the American west during the mid-1800s, the teen makes a living by writing letters for illiterate friends and neighbors in his community. From a love-struck rancher to a Paiute native who addresses letters to U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, Billy—who others call "Scrib" due to his profession—puts his writing skills to use for a wide variety of Old West characters.

The language Ives uses to set the stage in his novel is reminiscent of the dialectical writing penned by noted eighteenth-century American humorist Mark Twain. Reviewers found the dialect in Scrib so entrancing, in fact, that several spiced their own reviews with the author's unique spellings. A Kirkus Reviews contributor dubbed Ives' novel "a rip-roarin'-and-writin' escapade wild-west style," while Jessi Platt wrote in School Library Journal that fans of Terry Pratchett's "Tiffany Aching" books "will be ‘pertickly’ pleased" with the humor in the tale. According to a Publishers Weekly critic, Billy's "exalted style accounts for much of the humor in this sometimes laugh-out-loud chronicle." Kliatt contributor Paula Rohrlick wrote that Ives "combines humor with Old West legends and lore to create an entertaining tale," and Frances Bradburn commented in Booklist that Scrib is "an entertaining boy-pleaser."

Asked how he got the idea for Scrib in an online interview for the HarperCollins Web site, Ives explained that he thought about the tale for almost twenty years before writing it down. A story about a boy who wrote letters for cowboys appealed to him, but he was not sure how to frame such a story. Then, while on a trip down the Colorado River and through the Grand Canyon with his wife, he remembered the idea and began thinking about the story again. Soon, Ives was writing on any blank paper he could find, even the margins of the travel guides they had brought with them. "On a blank page of that nature book I even wrote the first paragraph of the book, almost the way it stands right now," he recalled.

Biographical and Critical Sources


America, August 27, 1994, James S. Torrens, review of All in the Timing: Fourteen Plays, p. 25.

American Theatre, July–August, 1994, Stephanie Coen, review of All in the Timing, p. 25; April, 1999, Celia Wren, "Irrational Exuberance," p. 37.

Back Stage, November 22, 1991, David Lefkowitz, review of Off the Beat and Path, p. 40; January 17, 1992, Sy Syna, review of Five Very Alive, p. 52; January 21, 1994, Larry S. Ledford, review of All in the Timing, p. 40; March 31, 1995, Amy Reiter, review of Don Juan in Chicago, p. 42; May 31, 1996, David A. Rosenberg, review of Ancient History/English Made Simple, p. 48; May 9, 1997, Irene Backalenick, theatre review of Mere Mortals and Others, p. 42.

Back Stage West, August 9, 2001, Polly Warfield, review of Obsessions and Confessions, p. 12.

Bloomsbury Review, November, 1995, Dallas Crow, review of All in the Timing, p. 33.

Booklist, June 1, 2001, Susan Dove Lempke, review of Monsieur Eek, p. 1883; March 1, 2005, Frances Bradburn, review of Scrib, p. 1181.

Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2005, review of Scrib, p. 229.

Kliatt, March, 2005, Paula Rohrlick, review of Scrib, p. 12.

New Leader, February 14, 1994, Stefan Kanfer, review of All in the Timing, p. 22; September 22, 1997, Stefan Kanfer, theatre review of Mere Mortals and Others, p. 22.

New York, April 3, 1995, Randall Short, "Sharp as Ives," p. 50; April 10, 1995, John Simon, review of Don Juan in Chicago, p. 75; June 3, 1996, John Simon, review of Ancient History, p. 96.

Publishers Weekly, May 28, 2001, review of Monsieur Eek, p. 89; March 28, 2005, review of Scrib, p. 80.

School Library Journal, June, 2001, Ellen Fader, review of Monsieur Eek, p. 150; February, 2005, Jessi Platt, review of Scrib, p. 137.

Time, January 31, 1994, Richard Corliss, review of All in the Timing, p. 106.

Variety, August 18, 2003, Joel Hirschhorn, review of Time Flies, p. 28.


BookLoons, http://www.bookloons.com/ (September 5, 2006), Ricki Marking-Camuto, review of Scrib.

HarperCollins Web site,http://www.harpercollins.com/ (September 27, 2006), "David Ives."