Top Emerging Theater – Newcity Stage

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

Top Five Shows of 2015 – Theatre by the Numbers

Chicago’s First Unified Access Auditions for Deaf and/or Disabled Performers

Who are we?

Red Theater is Dangerous and Free.

photo by Joe Mazza-Brave Lux

photo by Joe Mazza-Brave Lux

 Mission Statement:

Red Theater honors all audiences by asking dangerous questions through free and accessible performances that broaden perspective and inspire dialogue.

We began in 2008 with the banishment from the University of Nebraska
for performing controversial works. Our commitment to a defiant energy
and diverse voices has resulted in five collectives: Lincoln, Omaha, Chicago, Tucson, and Purchase, NY.

All Red Collectives now operate as Free Theater.

General Admission will always be FREE.

Notable Chicago productions include the Chicago Premiere of Taste by Benjamin Brand, and the World Premiere of the deaf/hearing bilingual play “R+J: The Vineyard”; which was named a Top 10 show in 2015 by The Chicago Reader.  Red Theater also produced the Chicago Premiere of Bertolt Brecht’s “Schweyk in the Second World War” and the Chicago Premiere of “Red Hamlet” by Aaron Sawyer. Our work has been featured in publications such as American Theater Magazine, the Chicago Reader, and ABC News.

Recent Awards include “Top Emerging Theater Award” from Newcity Stage and “Top Five Shows in 2015” from Theatre by the Numbers. The Chicago Tribune featured R+J: The Vineyard as a model production in their “Resolution for Theater in 2016”.

Janette Bauer and Aaron Sawyer

Janette Bauer (MD) and Aaron Sawyer (AD)

Why are we free?

Chicago has a lot of great theater, but many people are not able to see it.

How are we free?

We are able to provide #FreeTheater by enlisting the generosity of corporations, foundations, and donors like you!

Red Theater’s #FreeTheater and #AccessInitiatives are supported by our Comrade Patron Program. For every $10 monthly donation we receive, Red Theater is able to provide three #FreeTheater seats to nontraditional audiences over the course of our season. RTC_ComradeCard


Keep theater dangerous and free.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions by emailing chicago@redtheater.org


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Who are we?

It is the mission of Red Theater to “honor ALL audiences by asking dangerous questions through free and accessible performances that broaden perspective and inspire dialogue.” We continue this mission through our #FreeTheater Initiative and by featuring nontraditional artists and diverse voices in theatrically compelling ways.

Why are we Red?

Red Theater Lincoln began in 2008 as a means of empowering students excluded from the traditional “Go Big Red” football-centered curriculum at The University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Our message of empowerment spread to the community of Lincoln and then to Omaha. Members of each collective then moved to found collectives in Chicago, Purchase, and Tucson respectively.

Got troubles? Please don’t hesitate to contact us by emailing: info@redtheater.org



Our creation story


Collective History:

Red Theater Lincoln [RTL] was founded in Lincoln, Nebraska after a bar fight in the summer of 2008 (okay, a heated semantic discussion) between Theron Seckington and Aaron Sawyer about the aesthetic virtues of theatre over film (and vice-versa). The Collective’s first performance was in December 2008 at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Red Theater Omaha [RTO] was built by founders Gage Wallace and Aaron Sawyer on the enthusiasm of the RTO Artistic Director, Jeremy Short, and the experience of Lincoln founding member, Sara Tangdall. RTO’s first performance was in August, 2010.

Red Theater Chicago [RTC] was built by founders Kim Chelf and Aaron Sawyer in the summer of 2012. RTC’s first season consisted of the Chicago premiere of Bertolt Brecht’s Schweyk in the Second World War and of Aaron Sawyer’s co-written script Red Hamlet.

Red Theater Purchase [RTP] was created by Omaha member Colin Ferguson and Kaitlyn Bestenheider in September of 2013.

Red Theater Tucson [RTT] was created by Marissa Boyle and Jackie Mendenhall in November of 2015.


02 Red Theater No Capacity Sign

From the original 2008 performance- posted with great urgency


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