I wasn't actually surprised to find him witty and charming - I had seen him on a panel about playwriting along with the late Wendy Wasserstein and David Lindsay-Abaire a few years ago, and while Ives had the least to say of the three, he was the pithiest. Which makes sense from the master of the short form play.
I was pretty thrilled when Ives agreed to sit in on a recent meeting of my group NYCPlaywrights and participate in the feedback sessions. Having David Ives give you feedback on your play is like having Leonardo DaVinci critique your sfumato technique. He gives great feedback.
I've already enjoyed some of his comments on playwriting, and put two of them in the NYCPlaywrights quotation section:
For me, there's only one rule of playwriting: don't bore the audience.
and my favorite justification for running NYCPlaywrights:
(on learning playwriting at Yale) Mostly you sat around the table and read your stuff, which is as it should be. There was certainly no theory of playwriting.
Especially encouraging for someone who discovered playwriting long after my brief stint in Academia - if you can call art school Academia.
Plays from Ives's collection All in the Timing are performed quite a bit, so check them out next time you get a chance - they're also fun to read.
And you can read this excellent Ives article online Why Write for Theatre?
A bunch of us gave Ives a lift home and chatted a bit enroute. He's going to work on a version of My Fair Lady with Kelsey Grammer - oddly he's never seen Frasier - which is rather a shame I think, because at its best, Frasier is as good as anything you'll see on Broadway. And I love me some David Hyde Pierce!
We also offered him a bullwhip* but he claimed he has his own.
*about the bullwhip - my production of HUCK FINN required a bullwhip prop for the slave trader, so I ordered one on ebay, only to discover I'd accidentally ordered a box of 12. So to the cast's delight they each got a free souvenir bullwhip. With a cast of seven, we had extras, so we could afford to be generous to David Ives.