Who We Are

Red Tape Theatre is committed to the creation of new and experimental work through collaborations with our ensemble, playwrights, musicians, dancers, and visual artists. Red Tape’s plays invite our audiences to re-imagine their world and serve a vital purpose in our community: to arrest attention and create empathy.

Artistic & Administrative Staff

Artistic Director – Max Truax
Director of Development – Emily Nichelson
Director of Community Engagement – Kelsey McGrath
Director of Audience Services – Spencer Ryan Diedrick
Grants Manager – Claire Bauman
Grant Writer – Daniella Wheelock
Director of Accessibility – Brenda Scott Wlazlo

Resident Artists

Resident Scenic Artist – Nick Schwartz
Resident Costume Designer – Izumi Inaba
Resident Composer – Nicholas Tonozzi
Resident Sound Designer – Steve Labedz

Company Members

aaronAaron Arbiter (he/him/his) Arbiter is a Chicago-based artist and educator. He has directed and assistant directed work for companies from Boston to Chicago including the 16th Street Theatre, 906 Theatre Company, The Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, among many others. Arbiter served as Assistant Director for Red Tape’s production of Round Heads and Pointed Heads. He has trained internationally with Complicité and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

DerekVanBarham-PhotobyColeSimonDerek Van Barham (he/him/his) is the Producing Artistic Director of Kokandy Productions, and a member of the Red Tape Theatre ensemble. He previously served as Associate Artistic Director of Pride Films & Plays and Artistic Director of The Ruckus. Recent directing credits: Head Over Heels (Kokandy), The View Upstairs (Circle), Poseidon (Hell in a Handbag) and Taylor Mac’s A Walk Across America for Mother Earth (CCPA/Roosevelt). Recent choreo credits: Ghost Quartet, Evil Dead the Musical (Jeff nomination), Shockheaded Peter (Black Button Eyes). He was named one of Windy City Times 30 Under 30, recognizing individuals from Chicago’s LGBTQ community. MFA: Chicago College of Performing Arts (CCPA) at Roosevelt University. BFA: University of Mississippi. www.derekvanbarham.com  

claireClaire Bauman (she/her/hers) is a director and choreographer who investigates theater through devising and collaborating with an interdisciplinary and feminist lens. She has directed for Rhinofest, Broken Nose Collective, Chicago Theatre Marathon as well as produced and devised her own pieces and events. Claire co-created Making (the) Movement, a dance arts festival supporting Chicago organizations dedicated to combating sexual violence. She has assisted and performed with Interrobang Theater Project and Walkabout Theater, where she is also an Artistic Associate. She graduated from Vassar College and further trained at the Moscow Art Theater School. Claire has participated in DirectorsLabChicago, Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation Observership Program, and Hangar Theatre’s Directing Apprenticeship.

ambroseAmbrose Cappuccio, (he/him/his) is a Chicago-based playwright and performer. He was most recently seen in Round Heads and Pointed Heads at Red Tape Theatre. One of his original scripts, Cigarettes, will be produced as a part of Red Tape’s (Working Title) workshop series on July 19th. He is also a company member with Trap Door Theatre.


Casey Chapman (he/him/his) Casey Chapman (he/him) has appeared at Red Tape in In the Blood, Round Heads and Pointed Heads, and We Are Pussy Riot. He has been a long time collaborator with artistic director Max Truax including multiple projects at Trap Door Theatre, where Casey appeared in over 10 productions. He has also been in 6 feature length films which have toured the US and abroad with winning Best Actor at the New York City Independent Film Festival and the International Film Awards Berlin Festival. Casey is proud of Red Tape Theatre and its mission to provide free theatre to all.

Richard Costes (he/him/his) is a Chicago-based actor, director, and accessibility consultant. Selected roles include Snout in Midsummer Night’s Dream at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Bosun in Mosquitoes at Steep Theatre Company, Arjun in Opportunities of Extinction (World Premiere) at Broken Nose Theatre, and Rev D./Baby in In the Blood at Red Tape Theatre. Richard was one of 10 recipients of a 3Arts Award in 2019 and is also a member of Disability Lead. A 2006 graduate of Kent State University (B.A. Theatre) he has presented at Gallaudet University’s symposium on Visual Shakespeare and was a panelist and member of the 2019 Deaf Theatre Action Planning Session hosted by HowlRound at Emerson College and now sits on the board of the National Theatre of the Deaf.  www.richardcostes.com

ZoëHeadshotZoë DePreta (she/her/hers) is an actress, writer and comedian originally from Stamford, CT. She holds a BA in Theatre and Creative Writing from Oberlin College. Most recently, Zoë appeared in Red Tape’s (Working Title) performance of Queen of Sock Pairing. Other Chicago credits include Anna Karenina (Lifeline Theatre), May Day (Rhinofest 2018), and La Ronde (American Theatre Co. CORE). Zoë is currently studying with iO and performs stand-up comedy throughout the city.

SpencerHeadshotSpencer Ryan Diedrick (he/him/his) serves as the Audience Engagement Manager and a proud Company Member of Red Tape. His credits as a director, deviser, and assistant director include Griffin, TimeLine, American Blues, Route 66, Emerald City, The Runaways Lab Theatre, Strawdog, Dandelion, the side project, Raven, Lifeline, Collaboraction, Blue Goose Theatre Ensemble (Co-Artistic Director – RIP), and (re)discover theatre (Ensemble Member – RIP). Many thanks to his friends, family, and all supporters of live theatre.

amanda-d-1Amanda Drinkall (she/her/hers) As an ensemble member, Amanda’s Red Tape credits include hamlet is dead. no gravity, The Skriker, Brand, Lear, The Love of the Nightingale, and Pullman, WA.  Other Chicago credits include: Bernhardt/Hamlet, The Winter’s TaleVenus in FurAh! Wilderness, Continuity and Measure for Measure (Goodman Theatre); King Charles III (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Mary Page Marlowe (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); By the WaterWhite Guy on the Bus and Funnyman (Northlight Theatre); Last Train to Nibroc (Haven Theatre, Jeff Award for Best Actress); Southern Gothic (Windy City Playhouse); Rest (Victory Gardens Theater); Pygmalion (Oak Park Festival); Dutchman (American Blues Theatre); Great Expectations (Strawdog Theatre Company) and Pride and Prejudice (Lifeline Theatre). Television credits include Chicago Med and Bobby & Iza. Since joining Actors Equity Association, Amanda has transitioned from performing in Red Tape’s productions to serving on its Board.  She holds a BFA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is represented by Gray Talent Group.

Heeadshot.jpgCallie Harlow (she/her/hers) is a Chicago-based actor and dramaturg. She relocated to Chicago in 2019 by way of Seattle and Oberlin, OH, where she developed her background as a dramaturg with the Seattle-based radical dramaturgy vehicle, The Umbrella Project. Her recent Chicago performance credits include: a workshop performance of Futurists (Red Tape), 2 Unfortunate 2 Travel (Prop Thtr), and the upcoming production of When the Rain Stops Falling at Shattered Globe. You can also see her on-screen in the Sony produced short, Taste, and the indie feature CRSHD. Callie is thrilled to be joining the Red Tape team as a Grants Associate. Find her online at callieharlow.com.


Izumi Inaba has designed costumes for A Hedda Gabler, hamlet is dead. no gravity, Obscura, Tragedy: a tragedy, Elephant’s Graveyard, and The Skriker. Earlier this season she was invited to be invited to be Red Tape’s resident costume designer. Chicago credits include works with A Red Orchid, Porchlight, Chicago Shakespeare, Chicago Dramatists and About Face, Griffin, Steep, Building Stage, The Hypocrites, Side Show, Mary-Arrchie, etc. She is a recipient of Jeff Award 2011 for makeup design of Cats (Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre). MFA in Stage Design, Northwestern University.

BenKayeDirectingHeadShot (1)Ben Kaye (he/him/his) is a Chicago-based director, performer, administrator, and cultural critic, and is thrilled to be joining the Red Tape Theatre team and supporting the Free Theatre Movement. He currently works as the Audience Services Manager for Emerald City Theatre, as a Producer with Chicago Arts Access, and as a Contributing Writer for Newcity Stage. He has directed, and assistant directed, on world premiere productions with Dandelion Theatre, Nothing Without a Company, The Hypocrites, and The New Colony, and his performance credits include work with Steep Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater, Haven Theatre, and Porchlight Music Theatre. He directed the Chicago premiere of Nick Flynn’s Alice Invents a Little Game and Alice Always Wins, and his production of Alex Fortune’s Forsythian Dweller’s Club with Bittersweet Arts Co. enjoyed an award-winning run at the Minnesota Fringe Festival.


Steve Labedz(they/them/theirs) is a composer, sound designer, and video designer based out of Chicago. They greatly enjoy working on experimental theatre because weird stuff is the coolest stuff. Red Tape production credits include The Life and Death of Madame BarkerIn the BloodWe Are Pussy Riot!, I Saw Myself, Mutt and Round Heads and Pointed Heads.

PeteshotPeter Laughlin, Company Member. Mr. Laughlin received his BFA in Acting from California Institute of the Arts and was most recently seen in Red Tape’s production of Round Heads and Pointed Heads. He was also featured in House Show: Double Feature with Book Club here in Chicago.

eddieEddie Lynch (he/him/his) was born and raised in Massachusetts and graduated from California Institue of the Arts with his BFA in Acting. Eddie spent a year teaching English in Thailand and is an Associate Company Member at Trap Door Theatre. He was also featured in House Show: Double Feature with Book Club here in Chicago.

bwRuth-MargraffRuth Margraff, a member of the Red Tape ensemble, has been called a leader and one of America’s most singular and daring theater artists known for her “audaciously original” (Moscow Times) use of language that provides “layer after layer of richly textured emotion…and imminent danger” (Dallas Morning News). Best known in the US for her collaborations since 1997 with the late composer Fred Ho with whom she wrote six martial arts operas for the Apollo, Guggenheim Museum, Brooklyn Academy of Music and several national tours, Ruth’s “Night Wind from Afghanistan” for the play SEVEN has toured all over the world, introduced by Hillary Clinton featuring Meryl Streep at the Broadway Hudson Theater (NYC). She performs regularly with her Café Antarsia Ensemble, receiving awards from Rockefeller, McKnight, Jerome, NEA, TCG, TMUNY, NYSCA, IAC, Fulbright foundations, published by Dramatists Play Service, American Theatre, Theater Forum, Performing Arts Journal, Playscripts, Inc., Backstage Books, Autonomedia, New Village Press, Innova RecordsNoPassport Press.  She performed Flower in Red Tape’s Taylor Mac play at Steppenwolf Garage, after working with Red Tape on her play Stadium Devildare in 2013. She’s currently writing Previously Blue with Dah Teatar (Belgrade) and 7Stages (Atlanta) presenting her Locket Arias with Nautilus’ Rough Cut new opera series (Mpls), etc.  She’s been a New Dramatist, a Chicago Dramatist and is Associate Professor/Chair of Writing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  www.RuthMargraff.com

Headshot PhotographerMoriah Martel (she/her/hers) is an actor and artist from rural New England. She has worked in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York since graduating with her BFA from the California Institute of the Arts in 2017. Chicago credits include Stranger on the River (The Den), Jon Ramsey’s Christmas Special (iO) and Smile Happy (Book Club), as well as various independent film projects with Familiar Pictures, Decent Filmz and The Second City. Moriah also runs the DIY art journal Look at This, where she hosts an interview series with theater artists. More info at moriahmartel.com!

felixFelix Mayes (he/him/his) is an East Coast transplant. He was most recently seen in Red Tape’s production of Round Heads and Pointed Heads. He has had the opportunity to perform on stages from NJPAC to the Lincoln Center to the Rudolfinum in Prague as a singer, actor, and dancer. He has participated in the Philly Fringe Festival and Irene Ryan Acting Festival as well as the American College Dance Festival.

MODAFF2020-1Emilie Modaff (they/them/theirs) is a Chicago-based multidisciplinary artist. Most recently you may have seen them in Kentucky (The Gift Theatre). Previously, Em has played on the Red Tape stage in Pussy Riot and In The Blood. Other favorite projects include: In The Canyon (Jackalope Theatre), Les Innocents ((re)discover theatre), Little Flower of East Orange (Eclipse Theatre), Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical (Emerald City Theatre), and OpenTV’s original web-series Choose Me: An Abortion Story. They are represented by DDO Chicago. www.emiliemodaff.com.

Emily NichelsonEmily Nichelson (she/her/hers) serves as the Director of Development for Red Tape Theatre by overseeing the major fundraising events for the company and facilitating the relationships of the large and individual donors to Support the Free Theatre Movement. As a company member, Emily has appeared onstage in I Saw Myself and Round Heads and Pointed Heads. She is also a company member with Trap Door Theatre, and has been onstage with Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, Writer’s Theatre, Griffin Theatre, StrawDog Theatre, and others.

ALECPHANHS Alec Phan (hey/they) is an actor and music-maker based in Chicago. He hails from Wisconsin where he grew to love Shakespeare with Anne and Richard DiPrima of the Young Shakespeare Players, before studying theatre at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Alec always seeks out storytelling work that breaks down binaries and celebrates the intersectionality of human identities. He is also an ensemble member of Prop Thtr and an Artistic Associate with Pop Magic Productions.

Joe_BWJoseph Ramski (he/him/his) is a native Chicago actor, writer, and visual artist with a BFA in Theatre and English from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. He’s worked with a number of theatres as an actor and designer, including Red Tape, Oracle Productions, Otherworld Theatre, The Arc Theatre, The Ruckus, MOZAWA, Organic Theatre Company, Reutan Collective, (re)discover theatre, The Runaways, Mudlark Theatre, The Prop Thtr, Chicago Slam Works, and the Right Brain Project, where he served as Managing Director and Graphic Designer from 2013 to 2017. Joe has also performed his poetry and other written work across the city, has written a number of plays, and had his first full-length play The Dancing Plague produced in the fall of 2016.

CalebCaleb Roitz, Company Member. Mr. Roitz is an actor, writer, and director originally from San Diego, California. He was most recently seen in Red Tape’s production of Round Heads and Pointed Heads as well as House Show: Double Feature with Book Club. Caleb has received his BFA in Acting from the California Institute of the Arts.

nickNicholas James Schwartz (he/him/his) Originally from New York , Nick now resides in Chicago as a Scenic Designer, Scenic Artist and Technical Director. Previous work with RED TAPE includes: All Quiet On The Western Front, Queen of Sock Pairing, In The Blood, and Round Heads and Pointed Heads, Other works include: Mamma Mia (Cortland Repertory Theatre), Hello Again, Working (Theo Unique Cabaret Theatre), Comedy of Errors, Loves Labours Lost (Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre), Elephant Man (William Street Repertory), Columbinus, Blood At The Root, Antigone (Elgin Community College), Naked, The Killer, Love and Information (Trapdoor Theatre), Book of Merman, Defacing Michael Jackson (Flying Elephants Productions), In The Heights, Revolt (Vision Latino Theatre).

shum-227-edit_WEBStephanie Shum (she/her/hers) is a proud company member with Red Tape where she has appeared in We Are Pussy Riot, Roundheads and Pointed Heads, Mother of Smoke, and Mnemonic. She has also performed with The New Colony, Steppenwolf Theatre, American Theater Company, The Neo-Futurists, First Folio, Broken Nose, Wildclaw, and Cloudgate among others. She is Co-Artistic Director of The New Colony, a graduate of the School at Steppenwolf, and is represented by Shirley Hamilton Talent. www.stephanieshum.com

Taylor, Kaitlin 2019Kaitlin Thomas Taylor (she/her/hers or they/them/theirs) is a director and designer.  She has directed, designed, production managed, and assisted across Chicago theatres with Redtwist, TimeLine Theatre, Saint Sebastian Players, Genesis Theatricals, The Music Theatre Company, Otherworld, Public House, Chicago Dramatists, and The Vanguardian Theatre Collective, among others.  Kaitlin is currently working with Waltzing Mechanics to start conversations and educate through documentary theatre.

JennJenn Thompson (she/her/hers) has been working as a freelance stage manager, designer, and writer throughout the Chicagoland area. Some previous credits include work with Pride Films and Plays, The Gift, The Court, Redtwist, and others. She was the Stage Manager of Red Tape’s I Saw Myself, and is the Resident Stage Manager at Redtwist Theatre as well as a company member with Bower Theatre Ensemble.


Max Truax (he/him/his) brings years of experience producing and directing experimental theatre and has been hailed by TimeOut Chicago as “one of the most visually visionary directors in Chicago’s storefront scene.” His work with Red Tape includes his direction of Brand and A Hedda Gabler. Prior to joining Red Tape, Max served as Artistic Director of Oracle Productions from 2011 until 2016, where he directed No Beast So Fierce, The President, The Mother, The Sandman, Woyzeck, The Ghost Sonata and Termen Vox Machina. His production of The Mother received several Jeff Awards, including awards for Best Production and Best Ensemble. Prior to his tenure as Artistic Director of Oracle, Max served as Oracle’s Director of Outreach and as Company Manager. Max has been a Resident Director at Trap Door Theatre since 2008, where he directed several productions, including No Matter How Hard We Try, The Balcony, They Are Dying Out, Hamletmachine, A Couple of Poor Polish-Speaking Romanians, and No Darkness Round My Stone. His production of A Couple of Poor Polish-Speaking Romanians performed at the Fun Underground Festival in Arad, Romania and at the Bagatela Theatre in Krakow, Poland. Other notable directing credits include A Dream Play at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts (University of Illinois). Max studied visual art, performance art, and post-modern choreography at Oberlin College, and he received his MFA in Theatre Directing from California Institute of the Arts.


Johnard Washington recently moved to Chicago by way of Houston, Texas. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Southern Methodist University studying theatre. There, he was seen in a variety of roles: La Discreta Enamorada (Hernando); The Laramie Project (Greg Pierotti, et al.);Trouble in Mind (John Nevins); Our Lady of 121st Street (Flip Johnson); An Ideal Husband (Lord Goring) and many independent projects. Mr. Washington also worked closely with Kitchen Dog Theatre and the Orchestra of New Spain under the direction of Tina Parker, Gustavo Tambascio and Grover Wilkins III. In Chicago, Mr. Washington has worked primarily with Red Tape Theatre where he has performed in A Hedda Gabler, Elephant’s Graveyard and The Skriker.

ZachHeadshotZach Weinberg (he/him/his) is a Chicago-based theater director, adaptor, and administrator. He is interested in the creation of new, non-traditional works and finding the perfect medium for the message. Zach is a company member at Red Tape Theatre, and a graduate of Oberlin College. Selected directorial work includes serving as a Directing Apprentice with the late Redmoon Theatre, the 2016 Director’s Haven at Haven Theatre, two original adaptations at Curious Theatre Branch’s Rhinofest: Love in a Maze (’17) and MAY DAY (’18), and the world premiere of 2 unfortunate 2 travel as part of the Prop Thtr’s 2018-19 season.

Daniella_HSDaniella Wheelock (she/her/hers) is a Chicago-based theatremaker, originally from San Diego, California. She graduated magna cum laude from the Conservatory for Theatre Arts at Webster University with a degree in Directing and was an Emerging Professional Resident at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre. She is a DirectorsLabChicago alum and a member of its Steering Committee. Recent directing credits include: The Roommate (Cardinal Stage); Every Christmas Story Ever Told (Quincy Community Theatre); The Great Leap (assistant to dir. Jesca Prudencio, Steppenwolf Theatre Company); The Process (The Barrens Theatre Co.); Fifty Shades of Shakespeare ((re)discover theatre). daniellawheelock.com


Brenda Scott Wlazlo (she/her/hers) has been an ally and advocate for accessibility in theater since her arrival to Chicago in 2013. With a background in Deaf Studies and performance, she has used her passions to work with companies like Broken Nose Theater, Promethean Theater, Red Theater Chicago and others to support their efforts for inclusive productions and performances. With Red Tape’s founding perspective of erasing barriers between audiences, artists and communities, she couldn’t feel more at home in her new role as Red Tape aims for an even higher level of inclusive theater.

Emeritus Members
Alex Grelle
Ann Sonneville
Amber Gensterblum
Anthony Guerrero
Austin Oie
Casey Wright
Charlotte Long
Deirdre Connelly
Emma Ladji
Eric Turner
Jake Szczepaniak
Josh Johnson
Kiayla Ryann
Lyndsay Kane
Maryam Abdi
Mo Shipley
Nora King
Sarah Grant

Board of Directors
President – Scott Hildebrand
Treasurer – Bob Jenkins
Jesse Bauer
Amanda Drinkall
Louis Fogel
Barbara Keefe
Max Truax

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