we have a mission

Red Theater honors all audiences by asking dangerous questions theatrically. Our #FreeTheater initiative and commitment to Accessibility in every production lowers the barrier for nontraditional audiences to see new works that challenge the status quo.

Who We Are


Aaron SAwyer

Aaron Sawyer is the Founder and Artistic Director of Red Theater, with collectives in Chicago, Lincoln, Omaha, Tucson, and Purchase, NY. As a playwright, top Chicago credits include RED HAMLET and the bilingual Deaf/Hearing production of R+J: THE VINEYARD, heralded as a Top Ten Chicago Play of 2016 (Chicago Theater Beat). Aaron’s directing credits include the Chicago premieres of Bertolt Brecht’s unfinished musical SCHWEYK IN THE SECOND WORLD WAR and TASTE by Benjamin Brand (Jeff Recommended). The Chicago Reader named Aaron and Red Theater runners up in their 2016 “Best of Chicago List” for Best Stage Director and Best New Theater Company respectively.


Marisa Lerman

Marisa serves as Red Theater’s Executive Director. She has previously served as the Red Theater’s Managing Director as well as the Assistant Executive Director for Oil Lamp Theater. She has worked on and off the stage for the past 10 years for companies such as The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theater, the Prince Music Theatre, Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park, The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Chicago Folks Operetta, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She has been in Chicago for the past 3 years, where she has been an active member of the North Shore community.

When she is not at the theater, you can find her teaching Jazzercise in Glenview, binge watching great sci-fi shows on Netflix, or singing karaoke with her friends!

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Clare Brennan

Clare is Red Theater’s Associate Artistic Director. A Chicago-based theater maker, her directing credits include Anthony Neilson’s STITCHING (BlackLight Theatre; Dublin, Ireland), HOME OF LOVE, (Wall to Wall Theatre Festival; Ann Arbor, MI), and OTHELLO (The University of Michigan). Recently, she was a member of Shattered Globe’s 18/19 Protege Program and assisted directed Mechelle Moe on CARDBOARD PIANO (TimeLine Theatre). Elsewhere in Chicago, she has worked with Links Hall, The Den, Prop Thtr, The Frontier, RhinoFest, Theatre Evolve, and NON:op. Clare holds a B.A. in Drama and English from the University of Michigan.

With Red, Clare assistant directed and projection designed on Non-Player Character. She will produce 45 PLAYS FOR 45 PRESIDENTS this season.


  • 2019 Jeff Recommended - Non-Player Character by Walt McGough

  • 2019 Jeff Recommended - An Oak Tree by Tim Crouch

  • 2018 Winner- Best Fight Choreography, Jeff Awards, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity

  • “Best Of” lists in 2017: – Chicago Tribune, Chicago Inclusion Project, Theatre by the Numbers

  • 2017 Winner- Gage Wallace, Best Actor- Jeff Awards, Taste by Benjamin Brand

  • 2017 HIGHEST RATED SHOWS IN CHICAGO- Theater in Chicago

  • 2016 Jeff Recommended- Taste by Benjamin Brand

  • 2016 Best New Theater Company- Chicago Reader (runner up)

  • 2016 Best Actor- Chicago Reader, Gage Wallace

  • 2016 Best Director- Chicago Reader, Aaron Sawyer, (runner up)

  • 2016 Best Director, Time Out Chicago, Aaron Sawyer (runner-up)

  • 2015 Top Emerging Theater – Newcity Stage

  • Top Five Shows of 2015 – Theatre by the Numbers

Red Theater Staff

  • Artistic Director – Aaron Sawyer*^

  • Executive Director- Marisa Lerman

  • Literary Manager- Giulianna Marchese

  • Director of Accessibility- Bron Schlaefer

  • Production Manager - Amelia Seidel

  • Casting Director - Ashely Brenon

  • Marketing Manager- Matty Schnitker

  • Box Office Manager- Abigail Lafont

  • Producer- Becca Holloway

  • Producer- Clare Brennan

  • Producer- Wyatt Kent

  • Photography – Matthew Freer

Company Members

  • Jeremy Aluma

  • Mary Kate Ashe

  • J.W. Basilo

  • Scott Dickens

  • Sarah D. Espinoza

  • Liam Fitzgerald

  • McKenna Liesman

  • Elizabeth Lovelady

  • Christopher Paul Mueller

  • Pavi Proczko

  • Hailey Rakowiecki

  • Aaron Sawyer

  • Becky Warner

See also: Board of Directors


  • Actors, please submit headshot/resume to casting@redtheater.org. 
  • Playwrights, we only accept scripts with a director attached! Please submit to scripts@ and include details. 
  • Directors, please email chicago@redtheater.org with a one page concept summary with three key images from the text.


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