James Sherman
James Sherman
James Sherman

About James

James Sherman wanted to work in the theatre ever since he was nine years old and his parents took him to see “The Sound of Music.” He received a BA in Theater from Northeastern Illinois University and an MFA degree from Brandeis University. He began his professional career as a writer and actor with The Second City in Chicago.

His first full-length play, “Magic Time,” premiered at Brandeis University and was subsequently produced Off-Broadway. His next play, “The God of Isaac” premiered in 1985 at the Tony Award winning Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago. James was a founding member of the Victory Gardens Playwrights Ensemble and from 1985-2010 premiered a dozen plays there under the direction of Artistic Director Dennis Zaćek.

Many of James’ plays have been published and are regularly produced by theaters throughout the United States and have also been seen in Canada, Mexico, Australia, South America, England, Germany, Austria, Poland, Turkey, South Africa, Australia, China, and Korea.

In the summer of 2006, James wrote and directed the movie of his play, BEAU JEST, starring Lainie Kazan, Seymour Cassel, and Robyn Cohen.

James teaches classes in Playwriting and Improvisation at Columbia College of Chicago and DePaul University. He is a member of The Dramatists Guild of America.




(4 Men, 2 Women)

William Moore lives in his vintage penthouse apartment with his loyal assistant Bernard and his net worth of six hundred million dollars. When he brings home his new girlfriend, his son and ex-wife are none too happy about it. Who gets what and who ends up with whom is revealed in this contemporary comedy of manners.

“James Sherman has created a Moliere play for our times… A clever and delightful piece of theater.”
—Chicago Reader
“Dazzling wit and clever wordplay.”
—Copley News Service
Beau Jest


(4 Men, 2 Women)

Sarah Goldman is secretly dating Chris who does not meet the approval of her traditionally-minded parents. To please them, Sarah invents the perfect boyfriend. When the parents insist on meeting him, Sarah hires Bob, an out-of-work actor to pretend to be her make-believe beau.

BEAU JEST is the hilarious, heart-warming comedy that ran for a year in Chicago and for three years Off-Broadway.

“Very funny. The well-crafted play has a lot to say about nuclear families of any ethnic persuasion.”
—Wall Street Journal
Chagall in School


(6 Men, 2 Women)

In 1920, after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, Marc Chagall is asked to create a school for artists. He brings together other noted artists of the time as he hopes to realize his dream of a free school for anyone who wishes to explore their artistic aspirations. Chagall’s goals are complicated by the clash of personalities and artistic differences of the various artists who have their own ideas about how Chagall should run the school.

CHAGALL IN SCHOOL explores the timeless challenge of what it means to be an artist and to stay true to one’s vision.

“Fascinating… Not just an entertaining show but a strikingly courageous work.”
—Chicago Tribune
From Door to Door


(3 Women)

Mary Goodman is mourning the loss of her husband after 50 years of marriage. She reflects back on her life as a daughter, wife, and mother searching for a vision of her own identity. Shifting back and forth in time from Humboldt Park to Rogers Park to Highland Park, FROM DOOR TO DOOR brings new meaning to the song, “L’Dor V’Dor” (From Generation to Generation).

As it spans 70 years of family history, FROM DOOR TO DOOR is a funny, touching tribute to three generations of women in America.

“Hilarious and moving.”
—New York Daily News

The God of Isaac


(3 Men, 3 Women)

When Isaac Adams, a second-generation American Jew, learns of plans for a neo-Nazi group to stage a demonstration in Skokie, Illinois, he wonders what, if anything, should be his response. This one question leads him onto a journey of self-discovery for his connection to his community. Determined to find the truth, Isaac ultimately comes to terms with his heritage, his mother, and himself.

Sometimes called “The Jewish Wizard of Oz,” Isaac’s journey is a fascinating and humorous quest for identity where he learns that there’s no place like home.

“Hilarious, shrewd, and touching.”
—Chicago Sun-Times
Half and Half


(1 Men, 2 Women)

Act One: Earth Day, 1971. At the breakfast table, the husband reads the newspaper while the wife makes the breakfast.

Act Two: Earth Day, 2006. One generation later, the wife brings home the bacon while the stay-at-home husband prepares the frittata.

How the roles of men and women have (and haven’t) changed is examined in this unique comedy.

“A smart telling comedy about married life… Filled with wit and biting humor.”
—Copley News Service
Jacob and Jack


(3 Men, 3 Women)

Jack Shore, a successful commercial actor, is in a dressing room preparing to perform in a tribute to his late grandfather, Jacob Shemerinsky, star of the Yiddish Theatre. In adjacent dressing rooms, his wife and a young actress also prepare for the show. They get into costume and make-up and are transformed 75 years into the past. All of the actors play their past and present selves in a dazzling display of what life in the theatre is all about.

A classic farce which combines hilarious hijinks with a beguiling love letter to the American theatre.

“… a comedy transcending time. The humor is beautifully showcased in the similarities and differences between past and present theatre. It’s witty with a shmeer of the absurd… A comedic shtick with hilarious results.”
—Chicago Now
Jest a Second!


(4 Men, 2 Women)

A year has passed in the life of the Goldman Family. Sarah and Bob are married and anxiously awaiting the arrival of their first child. Now, Sarah’s brother, Joel, reveals the secret that he has been keeping from the family. Once again, Bob’s abilities as an actor are called into play to attempt to deceive the parents.

JEST A SECOND! is a heart-warming and hard-hitting companion piece to BEAU JEST.

“Sherman piles on surprise on surprise, sending audiences out into the night feeling very good indeed.”
“In the small, special field of sentimental family comedy, where absolutely nobody does it better, Jim Sherman has written his best play yet!”
—Chicago Tribune
Magic Time


(5 Men, 3 Women)

In a makeshift dressing room in the basement of a church, a troupe of young actors prepare for a performance of “Hamlet.” Fueled by their passion and dedication to their work and to each other, the backstage relationships inevitably mirror the onstage ones.

MAGIC TIME is a perfect play for an ensemble of young actors who can traverse both Shakespearean language and contemporary romantic comedy.

“MAGIC TIME… deal(s) with Shakespearean actors, the tension before a performance and the almost unreasonable passion that the theater evokes in its players.”
—The News World
“There is an artful innocence in MAGIC TIME. It is also delightful.”
—The New York Times
Mr. 80%

MR. 80%

(3 Men, 3 Women)

Sharon, a rising young attorney, and Patricia, a medical resident, need another roommate to help pay the rent on their New York apartment. But Sharon insists that it be either another woman or a gay male. Enter Sam and Jan, a comedy team who are so desperate for a decent place to live, they let the women believe that they are a gay couple.

MR. 80% is a classic comedy of masquerade that takes an affectionate look at the ongoing search for Mr. and Ms. Right.

“The results are hilarious, laughs hitting line after line.”
—Lerner Newspapers
Relatively Close


(4 Men, 3 Women)

Three sisters return to the home on the shores of Lake Michigan where they spent the summers of their youth. Now, the sisters are grown, the parents are gone, and the fate of the house has yet to be determined. One sister wants to keep it, one sister wants to sell it, and one sister wants everyone to just get along. With their husbands and one disgruntled teenager gathered together, they may find hope for the future or the downfall of the present.

“A comedic doppleganger of August: Odage County.”
—Daily Herald
Romance In D

Romance in D

(2 Men, 2 Women)

Charles, a musicologist, has cloistered himself off from romantic entanglements by keeping himself occupied by his work and visits from his mother. When Isabel, a brokenhearted poet, moves into the apartment next door, she has only her father for company. The two couples meet and in fugue-like fashion explore the possibilities of their relationships.

ROMANCE IN D is a beautiful romantic comedy for both the young and older generations.

“… just your ticket if you enjoy happy but honest endings and the company of four agreeable people progressing fitfully and inevitably toward true love.”
—Copley News Service
The Ben Hecht Show


(1 Man)

Ben Hecht, the celebrated playwright and screenwriter (The Front Page, Wuthering Heights, Gone with the Wind) was also a superb memoirist and storyteller. THE BEN HECHT SHOW brings Hecht to life as he describes his experiences in Chicago, New York, and Hollywood and relates his spiritual journey from assimilated Jew to social activist.

“The story is engaging and the story could not be more timely.”
—Chicago Sun-Times


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