Taste by Benjamin Brand

Chicago Premiere

Jeff Award Winner: Gage Wallace

Jeff Award Nomination: Best Actor: Gage Wallace

Jeff Award Nomination: Best Actor: Kevin V. Smith

 

Jeff Recommended

Taste is delicious, and Sawyer expertly orchestrates 90 minutes of excruciating but often hilarious tension. His cast, Gage Wallace and Kevin V. Smith, bring dancerlike precision to nearly every moment. It’s harrowing, hysterical, horrifying, and singularly exhilarating. —Justin Hayford, Chicago Reader

Founder and artistic director of Red Theater Chicago- RTC, Aaron Sawyer has directed TV writer Benjamin Brand‘s first play (based upon an actual event) with admirable sensitivity and respect. This is its Midwest premier. Minute beats of intimacy, telling glances” and precise movements have all been carefully staged and tastefully guided. There’s not a single arbitrary or wasted moment. From the lethal manner with which Terry ties a knot in Victor’s apron to the gentle, sensual physical closeness the men share, this is a very carefully thought-out and rehearsed production.” – Colin Douglas, Chicago Theatre Review

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TASTE

Gage Wallace and Kevin V Smith

Gage Wallace* and Kevin V Smith, Photo by Matthew Freer

by Benjamin Brand

directed by Artistic Director Aaron Sawyer*

Produced by Red Theater Chicago and Aperture Entertainment in association with Redtwist Theatre

Based on true events, Taste tells the story of two men who meet online and make a unique arrangement: one man will kill, cook, and eat the other. Over the course of the evening, secrets are revealed, boundaries are tested, and a strange but beautiful relationship unfolds. Deliciously voyeuristic, sinfully elegant, and surprisingly touching, this is Taste.

Download the Soundtrack!

All proceeds go to support Red Theater


 

Dates: April 23 – May 22nd, 2016

Captioned Performances, May 1st, 4th, 21st

Location: Redtwist Theatre- 1044 W Bryn Mawr Ave, Chicago, IL 60660

#FreeTheater tickets available here

Warning: Due to strong sexual content and imagery, no one under the age of 18 will be admitted.


 Trailer by Matthew Freer

Cast List:

Kevin V. Smith (Vic Harmon) most recently performed the English-language premiere of Peter Handke’s The Beautiful Days of Aranjuez at Theatre Y. Off-Broadway: The Maids (EgoPo/Cocteau). Selected Regional: Spring Awakening (EgoPo). Selected Chicago: Penelope, O Penelope (Theatre Y), Vincent River (“Best Actor of 2011” – Chicago Stage Review, Theatre Y), Night Just Before the Forest (Lake Como in Rome), Circle-Machine (Oracle), The Conduct of Life (Tooth and Nail), Three Sisters (The Gift), 13 Dead Husbands (Sansculottes), Pericles (Goodman), and Our Bad Magnet (Mary-Arrchie; Best Supporting Actor – Jeff Nomination). Selected Directing credits: Medea, The Ash Girls…, The Misunderstanding, and Exiles (Theatre Y).

Gage Wallace* (Terry Lavery) is a proud Founding and Company Member with Red Theater Chicago where he also serves as the Casting Director. He has had the fortune to have worked with many incredible companies in Chicago including Irish Theatre of Chicago, Mary Arrchie Theatre Co., Trap Door, and most recently with RTC in Year of the Rooster. As a performance poet, Gage has been seen on regional and national stages. He is represented by the wonderful people at Paonessa Talent. Taste marks Gage’s 21st collaboration with Artistic Director, Aaron Sawyer. www.gagewallace.com

*Denotes Red Theater Company Member

taste passed out

 



Performance Dates and Times:

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Photo by Matthew Freer

Captioned Performances, May 1st, 4th, 21st

Saturday              4/23/2016            3:00pm
Sunday                4/24/2016            7:30pm
Tuesday               4/26/2016            7:30pm
Wednesday        4/27/2016            7:30pm
Saturday              4/30/2016            3:00pm
Sunday                5/1/2016             7:30pm (Captioned)
Tuesday               5/3/2016             7:30pm
Wednesday        5/4/2016             7:30pm (Captioned)
Saturday              5/7/2016             3:00pm
Sunday                5/8/2016             7:30pm
Tuesday               5/10/2016            7:30pm
Wednesday        5/11/2016            7:30pm
Saturday              5/14/2016            3:00pm
Sunday                5/15/2016            7:30pm
Tuesday               5/17/2016            7:30pm
Wednesday        5/18/2016            7:30pm
Saturday              5/21/2016            3:00pm (Captioned)
Sunday                5/22/2016            7:30pm


CREW:

 

Director…………………………………………………………………… Aaron Sawyer*

Producer………………………………………………………………….Adam Goldworm

Producer…………………………………………………………………….. Janette Bauer*

Stage Manager………………………………………………………. Jennifer Roseman

Dramaturg……………………………………………………………….Joseph Pindelski

Technical Director………………………………………………………Liam Fitzgerald

Scenic Designer………………………………………………………………Eric Luchen

Costume Designer…………………………………………….. Brenda Scott Wlazlo^

Lighting Designer……………………………………………………….. Chazz Mallott

Sound Designer/Composer……………………………………….. Maxwell J Shults

Properties Designer……………………………………………….Angela M. Campos

Rabbit Props Designer…………………………………………….Catherine Woods

Special Effects Designer………………………………………………….Ryan Oliver

Trailer Director…………………………………………………………. Matthew Freer^

Fight Choreographer…………………………………………………..Zach Livingston

Directors of Accessibility……………………… Simone Zebot^ and Anni Pape^

Accessibility Engineer………………………………………………….. Giordon Stark

*Denotes a Red Theater Chicago Company Member

^Denotes a Red Theater Chicago Associate Member


Taste: Questions of Consent

In the theater it’s common for one character to die at the hands of another, and it’s not unheard of for that character to enter the situation willfully. What’s rare is for that death to be avoidable, consensual, and loving. Terry and Victor are not murderer and victim. They are adults who have made careful arrangements to responsibly engage in an extreme act of consent.

Benjamin Brand’s play is filled with some of the most powerful ingredients that make up the human condition. During this process, I’d find myself tempted to accept Vic and honor his unique desires. I’d also feel the enormous burden Terry has taken on to provide him with this ending. On paper Vic’s choice is beautiful: rather than burn or be eaten by worms, he wants to give himself completely to another. Mix in the idea that every human has the right to control the ending of their own life- the only thing we each own absolutely- and a lot of ideas get cooking. While sampling issues like consent, love, and the end of life, the choices of Victor and Terry give us quite a taste. – Aaron Sawyer, Director


The Paradox of Taste

Cannibalism titillates. Dionysius condemns Pentheus to gruesomely die by it in The Bacchae; Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus makes it the ultimate revenge upon a usurping queen; you can find it exotically mentioned in the works of Melville and Twain; Sondheim’s “demon barber of Fleet Street” conspires in it to rage against a corrupt world; NBC’s Hannibal brought it into millions of American homes.

We like the idea of men eating men, yet men eating men is depraved.

Herodotus used the act of cannibalism as a way to distinguish Greek civilization from its barbarian neighbors, and later colonial powers would use it to help justify their superiority over heathen natives. Today, Jeffrey Dahmer or Armin Meiwes – the inspiration for Taste – have become examples of psychological aberration. Cannibals violate concepts of human dignity and decency, monsters preying upon victims, destroying the human body in a most obscene manner.

But can cannibalism be decent if someone wants to be eaten? Benjamin Brand explores this paradox with Taste, a play inspired by the 2001 dinner between Armin Meiwes and Bernd Brandes. Videotaped and lasting more than ten hours, the event was an epicurean way for them to unite. An act of sacrifice and acceptance, combining life forces as one body nourished the other. The two physically became one through a sensual and intimate act of devotion: a meal. For Brand, their meal issued a psychological challenge, to sympathetically explore taboo within a relationship. Taste shows us two men engaged in a consensual, legal act (there are no laws in Germany or the United States explicitly forbidding cannibalism) that violates our notions of normalcy. -Joseph Pindelski, Dramaturg


Red Theater Logo

Crew Bios

Aaron Sawyer (Director) is the Founder and Artistic Director of Red Theater with collectives in Lincoln, Omaha, Chicago, Tucson, and Purchase, NY. As a playwright and stage director recent Chicago credits include Red Hamlet, Three Soldiers (for Sisters), and the bilingual Deaf/Hearing production of R+J: The Vineyard, heralded as a Top Ten Chicago Play of 2016 (Chicago Theater Beat). As a filmmaker Aaron is proud of his short film starring Emmy-winner Michael Badalucco, Broken Circle, as well as his feature-length documentary titled Act Like Nobody’s In Trouble which details Red Theater’s origin story and is available to stream for free at redtheater.org. Aaron is an avid Arsenal FC fan who resides in Chicago with his son, spouse, and pug.

Ben Brand (Playwright) is a Los Angeles based screen and television writer. He grew up in East Lyme, Connecticut. He has written feature films and television shows for NBC, Lifetime Television, IFC and Fox. He is currently writing a television drama for USA Network. Taste, his first play, was originally performed by Sacred Fools in Los Angeles. It was the winner of the Stage Raw award for playwriting and was also nominated for awards by the L.A. Drama Critics Circle and the Ovation Awards.

Adam Goldworm (Producer), founder of Aperture Entertainment, conspired with playwright Benjamin Brand and director Stuart Gordon to first bring TASTE to the stage in Los Angeles in 2014.  The play was a commercial and critical success, winning four StageRaw awards, one LA Drama Critics Circle Awards and two Ovation Awards. Goldworm is a film/TV producer who is responsible for many of the worst action films you have never heard of. His parents will never be invited to see this play.

Janette Bauer (Producer) is Managing Director of Red Theater Chicago. Along with being managing director she has had producer and production management responsibilities on many Red Theater productions. Janette has also stage managed and designed in the past with companies such as Red Tape, Red Theater, and New Millennium. She enjoys wearing many hats within the theatre world and constantly growing, but none of this can be done without the support she receives from the man she calls hers.

Jennifer Roseman (Stage Manager) graduated from Franklin College with a degree in English and Theatre in 2014. Shortly after graduating, she moved to Chicago and has been the stage manager for several companies across the city. Her favorite credits include Theater Y’s Happy Days and Strageloop’s Thinking Caps.

Joseph Pindelski (Dramaturg) is very pleased to be a part of Taste. Other Chicago dramaturgy credits include: The Drowning Girls (Signal Ensemble Theatre), Venus in Fur, Other Dessert Cities (Goodman Theatre), The Sweeter Option, Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom (Strawdog Theatre Company), and The Glass Menagerie (Steppenwolf Theatre Company- Next Up 2012). He has additionally worked with American Repertory Theater, NYU-Tisch School of the Arts, and Harvard University. As a critic, he has contributed to TimeOut Chicago, The New Gay, and NYTheatre.com. Joe Earned his MFA in dramaturgy and theater studies from the American Repertory Theater/Moscow Art Theatre School Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University and his BA from the Catholic University of America.

Liam Fitzgerald (Technical Director) is honored to join Red theatre as their resident TD. His previous Chicago production credits include American Beauty Shop (Chicago Dramatists), D.O.A. (Strawdog Theatre), Trash (New American Folk Theatre), Sketchbook 15 (Collaboraction), Physical Theatre Festival, AMID festival, Frederick, Wonderland, Jabari Dreams of Freedom, and Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money (Chicago Children’s Theatre). He has also done script screening for both Chicago Shakespeare and Steppenwolf and runs an independent film production company called LMP Productions.

Eric Luchen (Scenic Designer) is thrilled to be working with Red Theater for the first time. Currently, he is the Resident Scenic Designer for Redtwist Theatre. Previous credits at Redtwist include The Drawer Boy, Good People, Red, The American Clock, Another Bone, and Geezers. Other recent credits include Educating Rita, Other Desert Cities (Citadel Theatre), Noises Off, Not Now Darling (Brightside Theatre), Scotland Road (BoHo Theatre), Once Upon a Symphony (Chicago Symphony Orchestra). Upcoming productions: Spamalot (Brightside Theatre) Chewing on Beckett (Artemesia Theatre) The Importance of Being Earnest, Oh Coward, The Heiress (Dead Writers Theatre) you can see more of his work at www.ericluchen.com

Brenda Scott Wlazlo (Costume Designer) is a Red Theater Artistic Associate and aids as their Audience Development Coordinator and assists in grant development. As a designer, recent credits include Today We Escape, Social Creatures and Sandalwood with Tympanic Theater Company. In addition, Brenda is an actress, singer and improviser in the Chicago Community and was recently seen in R&J: The Vineyard, which was her Red debut.  A hopeless romantic and a lover of a story with a twist- she’s excited to be a part of this production. She thanks Aaron and the production team, Red Theater, and her husband- who cooks good.

 

Chazz Malott (Lighting Designer) is a freelance lighting designer based in Chicago since 2013. He previously worked with Red Theatre on their production of ‘Year of the Rooster’. Other recent credits include ’35MM’ and ‘Triassic Parq’ with Circle Theater, ‘Goblin Market’ and ‘Coraline’ with Black Button Eyes Productions and ‘Anne of Green Gables’ and ‘C.S. Lewis on Stage’ with Provision Theater. He has worked with Lookingglass Theater, Broadway in Chicago and the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut. He holds a Broadway World award for his design of ‘Coraline’ and a Kennedy Center award for his design of ‘Don Giovanni’. Chazz is excited to get a chance to work with Red Theatre again.

Maxwell J Shults (Sound Designer/Composer) is a composer and sound designer from Chicago. He creates music under the name Everson Poe, and has amassed a vast library of songs, including soundtracks for several theater productions. Much of that music can be downloaded for free at http://eversonpoe.bandcamp.com. Maxwell can also be seen playing live music with several Chicago theater alums in The Elizabeth Dane, who have just released their second album available at http://theelizabethdane.bandcamp.com. Maxwell has created sound and music for shows with Tympanic Theatre Company, The Ruckus and Right Brain Project. This is his first show with Red Theater.

Angela M. Campos (Properties Designer): Angela is a Chicago based props and scenic designer who frequently collaborates with several storefront theater companies. She also does contract work for short films and Chicago interiors. She is proud to be a company member of Collaboration as well as an Artistic Associate with 20% Theater Company. She would like to thank her friends and family for all their support.

Catherine Woods (Rabbit Props Designer): Catherine is a Chicago- based Special Effects Makeup Artist. She studied Makeup Design and Artistry at Columbia College Chicago, where she received her Bachelors of Interdisciplinary Arts. Some of her theater credits include makeup design for productions of Woods, The Tempest, and The Pillowman (Columbia College), as well as makeup and gore assistant for the twelve-hour epic cycle-play All Are Tragic (The Hypocrites) and prosthetics construction for the production of Titus: Apocalypse (Bare Knuckle Productions) here in Chicago.

Ryan Oliver (Special Effects) is an award-winning, independent, horror filmmaker from Chicago. He is the author of several genre scripts with a background in special fx, acting, stunts, and camera tech. Operating under his organization, Deathblow Productions, Oliver has directed music videos, experimental shorts, and two mid-length films; “Air Conditions” (2012) and “Restoration” (2014). Though largely retired from the theatre community, he still returns once in a while to design specialty stage effects. Ryan has previously designed effects for Defiant Theatre, Factory Theatre, Wildclaw Theatre and the Chicago Dramatists.

Matthew Freer (Trailer Director) is a filmmaker and photographer working in Chicago. Since becoming an Artistic Associate with Red Theater Chicago, he has begun to explore and capture the diverse stories that the local theatre community has to tell. He is thankful for the continued support of his friends, family, and the Chicago theater community.

Zach Livingston (Fight Choreography) has choreographed violence for Oracle Theatre and a number of other Chicago theatres. A black belt in taekwondo and hapkido, Zach has also spent time training in Thai boxing in northern Thailand, and trained in stage combat under Rick Barrows here in Chicago. In the film world, Zach directed, produced, starred in, and did fight choreography for his single-tracking-shot-short action film, CHARGER Most recently, he designed the violence for the critically acclaimed production of The Hairy Ape at Oracle Theatre. An actor as well, Zach is proud to be represented by Grossman & Jack Talent.

Simone Zebot (Co-Director of Accessibility) is one of two Red Theater Directors of Accessibility and loves making theatre, especially the storefront variety, accessible to all audiences. They will graduate from Columbia College Chicago this May having passionately studied American Sign Language-English Interpretation. They were last seen in Red’s R+J: The Vineyard as Sister Laurence. Intrigued by open-minded habits, they have delighted in this journey with Taste.

Anni Pape (Co-Director of Accessibility) is currently studying to become American Sign Language-English Interpreter at Columbia College Chicago (class ‘18). Previously, she has captioned for other theaters here in Chicago. Anni is also a home-grown Chicagoan with a High School Diploma from The Chicago Academy for the Arts in Musical Theatre. Her goal is to make theatre accessible to all audiences.

Giordon Stark, (Accessibility Engineer) is a Physics PhD student in High Energy Physics at the University of Chicago. He has worked on Year of the Rooster previously with the Red Theater and is excited to keep making theater accessible to everyone. His technical prowess knows no bounds having worked with Facebook, Google, Dropbox in the past and is currently assisting a few startups today. He has a website at http://giordonstark.com/ and wonders if ‘Winter Is Coming’.”


 

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