Reviews

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

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


Taste by Benjamin Brand

Taste by Benjamin Brand

TASTE by Benjamin Brand

Nominated:  Best Ensemble, Best Direction of a Play, Best Revival of a Play (Resident Non-Equity), Broadwayworld.com

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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R+J: The Vineyard adapted by Aaron Sawyer

R+J: THE VINEYARD adapted by Aaron Sawyer and Janette Bauer

Nominated: Best New Work/New Adaptation (Resident), Broadwayworld.com

“Excellence in Inclusion at the Storefront Level” Award in Time Out Chicago

“Delivering all kinds of eloquence, Aaron Sawyer’s staging presents a richly varied menu of communication…these eleven performances–from a collective comprised of deaf, hard-of-hearing and ASL interpreters–inevitably open up an audience–and a critic–to a different, if not deeper, tragedy.” – Lawrence Bommer, Stage and Cinema

Sawyer possesses both understanding of and appreciation for the adaptation he helped create, and takes its staging to another level.- Lauren Whalen, Chicago Theater Beat

Turning the Bard on his head and “letting hands do what lips do” makes this coproduction of Oracle and Red Theater Chicago one of the most visceral, relatable, and impactful Shakespeare performances in recent memory. —Marissa Oberlander, Chicago Reader

The blend of hearing and deaf characters and actors is lovingly seamless: a cogent, gifted and utterly rare ensemble.This star-crossed love story is a true original, and missing out would be the true tragedy – Lauren Whalen, Chicago Theater Beat

Defying the usual standards that measure merit and motivation, these eleven performances–from a collective comprised of deaf, hard-of-hearing and ASL interpreters–inevitably open up an audience–and a critic–to a different, if not deeper, tragedy. – Lawrence Bommer, Stage and Cinema

With sign language allowing for abbreviation conveying vast concepts with astonishing efficiency ( and bawdy jokes rendered considerably more raunchy than in blank verse ), the results come together over a mere 90 minutes with remarkable integrative unity under the guidance of director Sawyer- Mary Shen Barnidge, Windy City Times

Red Theater Artistic Director Aaron Sawyer—who adapted the text along with Managing Director Janette Bauer—has an eye for playful and inventive staging. The famous terrace/balcony scene here is played around a revolving wooden frame that perfectly expresses the romantic cat and mouse game of the young couple’s budding affection. –

Kevin Greene, NewCityStage.com

THREE SOLDIERS (FOR SISTERS) by Aaron Sawyer

Three Soldiers (for Sisters) by Aaron Sawyer

Three Soldiers (for Sisters) by Aaron Sawyer

Chekhov’s works can be hilarious and in Sawyer’s script humor is in abundance. …every character is layered, truthful and compelling.” – RockChicago.net

Unlike some other contemporized versions of Chekhov I’ve seen, at least Sawyer has the guts to bring the sisters — and soldiers — off the pedestal and cover them with gritty blood-drenched sand. – Chicago Tribune


DYLAN by Sidney Michaels

Dylan by Sidney Michaels

Dylan by Sidney Michaels

“Emotion sure to intoxicate audiences… Aaron Sawyer’s directions was simple, ingenious, beautiful.” -Gapers Block

Director Aaron Sawyer’s staging includes a clever reversal of the seating plot between acts to take us from Thomas’ loquacious public drunkard performances (for which we are his interactive audience) into his unraveling personal life.- Chicago Tribune

“Masterfully staged… a devastating portrait of the poet.” -Chicago Reader


RED HAMLET by Aaron Sawyer

Red Hamlet by Aaron Sawyer

Red Hamlet by Aaron Sawyer

“Sawyer’s stalwart cast expertly navigate the shifting terrain, managing to stand their ground when they need emotional paydirt. Unexpected delights arise in this 90-minute marvel…” –Justin Hayford, The Chicago Reader

“While the comedy is intoxicating, the serious themes are equally gripping, and the somber moments are beautifully played; the command of range shown by the cast is formidable. I’ve heard said of Shakespearean adaptations that The Bard would be proud of. In this case, The Bard wouldn’t just be proud; he’d be a little bit jealous.“ -Joy Campbell, Chicago Theater Beat

“The script’s way with language is often stunning. The cast’s finely timed interactions in word and deed bounce between being achingly human and highly stylized with nary a hiccup. This thing is a real kick to watch. If you know how Hamlet ends, you still don’t know how Red Hamlet ends. Red Theater’s Red Hamlet took everything I was convinced I didn’t like about Fringe shows and turned it on its head and made me love it. ” Matthew A. Everett,Twin Cities Daily Planet 8.5.2011

[Red Hamlet] was the best show I have ever seen in the Fringe. I have never seen a show blend well the various theater and movement styles show perfectly into a wonderful top notch show. This version of Hamlet really showed a different side that I have never thought of before. I really hope to see this group in next year’s Fringe Festival.” – Rachel Reiva, Twin Cities Daily Planet 8.15.2011


SCHWYEK IN THE SECOND WORLD WAR by Bertold Brecht

Schweyk in the Second World War by Bertolt Brecht

Schweyk in the Second World War by Bertolt Brecht

Director Aaron Sawyer has a keen understanding of Brecht as evidenced by his talented large ensemble who dedicate themselves to the comic, the poignant, and the musical elements that combined to land the wit and biting satire of Brecht. -Tom Williams, ChicagoCritic.com

“Red Theater Chicago’s ambitious spectacle…I look forward to see how Red evolves.” -ChicagoTheaterBeat.com

“Very accomplished for a brand new theater company…I was glad that I had the opportunity to see this play, and I would recommend it.” -WBEZ-FM Dueling Critics