The Revenants Spotlight Interview: Sound Designer Rick Sims

Running through February 22nd

Running through February 22nd

Sound designer Rick Sims joins us today to talk about hopelessness in horror, avoiding cliches, and What Scares Him.

1) Do you consider yourself a horror fan?

I don’t consider myself a horror fan per se but more of a suspense/thriller fan. Think Alfred Hitchcocks “The Birds” or “Jaws”. Also really dig films like “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Omen”

2 ) What was your introduction to horror?

I was introduced to a lot of Vincent Price films in my childhood. My local TV station had a show called Tales Of Terror where they’d play horror movies on Friday nights. “Evil Dead” also made an impression on me. The amount of blood, gore and hopelessness was overwhelming.

3) Zombies: Fast or Slow?

Slow. Like Lava oozing down the edge of a volcano.

4) How is design for horror different than for other genres of storytelling? What lessons have you learned from this project that you’re excited to use in the future?

A) My job as sound designer wasn’t all that different for Revenants than any other play. My sound and music needed to serve the story and evoke a feeling/emotion. For instance, the show needed the sound of zombies overtaking the house or it wouldn’t have made sense. Musically, I had to cover scene transitions which is what I would do for any other play. The main challenge was to not get tripped up by the devices of the horror film genre and just do my thing.



B) A real gun always sounds better than a recorded gun, avoid cliches, think out of the box and don’t be afraid to be counter-intuitive.

5) What Scares You?

Waking up at 3am to go pee when I’m sleeping at an old house. Intellectually I understand there’s no such thing as paranormal activity but……..

All weekend long, you can use the code word “sherman” for $10 off full priced tickets, and tickets are just $12 with a valid student I.D.! Join us for Scott T. Barsotti’s The Revenants at The Athenaeum Theater!

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The Revenants Spotlight Interview: Actor Elizabeth Birnkrant

A Shooting Star (acquitted)

A Shooting Star (acquitted)

Elizabeth Birnkrant is back on the WildClaw stage after joining us in Deathscribe 2012! Elizabeth plays Karen, a survivor of the zombie apocalypse whose marriage is not falling apart…though her husband kinda is. We’ll be talking today about pseudo-horror, the magic of tech, and What Scares Her.

1) Do you consider yourself a horror fan? 

At the risk of alienating anyone reading this… not really. I am (uncharacteristically) vanilla about horror. I get scared incredibly easily and tend to like pseudo-horror, like episodics about attractive teenage vampires. However, I am a huge WildClaw fan, and my experience working with the company is that it’s made up of some of the most generous, fun, and hilarious artists in the city.

2) What was your introduction to horror?

I remember being totally freaked out as a kid watching A Nightmare on Elm Street at a birthday party. I am still not good with any movie where things jump out unexpectedly. This past year I got (embarrassingly) hooked on some pseudo-horror netflix series about werewolves and vampires and teenagers making out in the woods (can you blame me?) and confessed the obsession to my friend Jake Carr, who is a legit horror fan (and, recently, filmmaker). He was so appalled by my choice of entry into the horror genre that he insisted I “man up,” and watch American Horror Story. I watched the first episode having to cover my eyes half the time, but am now completely addicted to the show.

3) Zombies: Fast or Slow?

Even I know enough to say slow.

THAT's using your...*drool*...

THAT’s using your…*drool*…


4)How is creating a character for horror different than for other genres of storytelling? What lessons have you learned from this project that you’re excited to use in the future?

Well, as I write this we haven’t yet gotten to tech, where I think that most of the differences will come. Tech is always this hugely exciting time, in a production, because, as an actor, you’ve done about as much as you can on your own, and with the other actors, director, and playwright. And I know, for me, I usually feel stuck. Like there is more to do but I’m not quite sure where. And then you step into this three dimensional world where you get to interact with design – set, lights, sound, props, costumes, makeup. And each of the designers are telling part of the story for you, and it is hugely inspiring and suddenly you can do more, as part of a larger whole.

With horror the design elements are going to be that much more helpful, because they’ll bring things to life – like the danger from outside, or grotesque illness – that so far we’ve only imagined.

One of the things that I’ve found extremely challenging and also exciting about this production, which I haven’t had to work with as much before, is the imposition of external elements – like sickness, injury, danger from outside. These elements are external the way having to wear a corset is external – they are parts of the story that are not generated by the (obviously internal) psyche of the characters. So, in this production I got to do a lot of working from the “outside in” – seeing how the external elements changed how I felt and thought and what I wanted from my scene partners. This doesn’t only happen in horror, but in horror the external elements are so unusual that they can’t help but change you. I found this incredibly exciting, and it’s something that I’d like to play with more in the future.

5) What Scares You?

Rats. Falling down stairs and knocking out my teeth. Being kidnapped. Intimacy. Those girls from The Shining.

Come check out Elizabeth’s bravely intimate performance in The Revenants at The Athenaeum Theater through February 22nd!

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The Revenants Spotlight Interview: Graphic Artist Charlie Athanas

Poster Design by Charlie Athanas

Poster Design by Charlie Athanas

Charlie is a WildClaw founding member, and has guided the company aesthetic from our poster art for Great God Pan through every single Deathscribe, in addition to designing the set for the premiere production of The Revenants back in 2009. Today, we’ll be talking about reading between the lines, variations on a theme, and What Scares Him.

1) What was your introduction to horror?

Watching “The Haunting” (1963) on TV at home alone with my older sister. Scariest thing I had seen and would see until catching “Alien” at an early showing prior to its release. No one had any idea what they were in for and it scared the hell out of everyone in the theater.

2) How would you define horror as a genre? What, to you, is the perfect horror story, & why?

Horror as a genre to me is defined by works of art that inspire fear, revulsion, curiosity, and mystery. I would say “The Telltale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe would meet my definition of the perfect horror story.

3) Zombies: Fast or Slow?

Slow. It is in the “in-between spaces” where the interesting things happen.

4) In re-visitng The Revenants, what challenge surprised you the most this time around? What lessons have you learned from this project that you’re excited to use in the future?

For myself as the poster designer, the toughest challenge was coming up with an image as strong as the first poster for the first production of The Revenants. I was trying to top myself and as an illustrator you work long and hard to come up with the perfect image that suits both the production and the brand. To create one successfully the first time is hard enough, to hope that lightning strikes twice is tempting fate. I did come upon an image that worked for me, but the rest of the company immediately pointed out that it evoked the Lord of the Rings and that killed it.

Trust me, you DO NOT want to deal with Tolkien's IP lawyers.

Trust me, you DO NOT want to deal with Tolkien’s IP lawyers.

In the end I am satisfied with the new graphic. I hope it evokes the fear and dread and flips a trope or two on its head at the same time. And puts bums in the seats.

5) What Scares You?

Genuine surprises scare me. And suspenseful expectation. There is a moment in this new production of The Revenants that has both and it makes for a great scene in the play. And from the vocal audience reactions we’re getting from the theatre crowd (known for its respectful silence) during this scene, it is doing its job quite well.

You can see what meets Charlie’s suspenseful expectations in The Revenants at The Athenaeum Theater through February 22nd!
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The Revenants Spotlight Interview: Actor Drew Johnson

An Exquisite Corpse

An Exquisite Corpse

Now that our heart-pounding remount of The Revenants is up and walking (no running zombies, please–we’re purists), we’ll be treating you every week to interviews with the talent that brought this beast to life (well, not LIFE, exactly…we’ll work on it).

Drew Johnson joins WildClaw for the first time as Joe, Karen’s husband, Gary’s best friend, and one of the infected…but just what, if anything, is going on in his head? We’ll be talking with Drew about child-friendly viewing, the meaning of a genre, and What Scares Him.

1) Do you consider yourself a horror fan?

Yes. Though I tend to lean towards SciFi Horror.

2) What was your introduction to horror?

I remember sleeping over at a friend’s house when I was maybe 8 or 9. We caught an airing of one of the Child’s Play movies on late night TV. Chucky was way too much to handle for a kid who was a little too scared to watch The NeverEnding Story or The Goonies.

3) Zombies: Fast or Slow?

Slow for better character development and storytelling, but I’m terrified by the idea of an unending horde of creatures that I can’t outrun.

4) How is creating a character for horror different than for other genres of storytelling? What lessons have you learned from this project that you’re excited to use in the future?

At the end of the day, I try to approach a role in a similar way whether it’s in a zombie play, children’s theatre, or Shakespeare. Even a zombie or a vampire or a fish monster has wants and needs.

Bride Frank

The biggest adjustment, I think, is the approach that the director and design team have to take. They have to balance the typical demands of their respective positions with the demands of the genre. At its core, horror has to frighten us in some way if it’s going to be successful. Terrifying the audience isn’t something that we’re typically trying to do in other genres of theatre.

5) What Scares You?

Persistence. Things unseen, but heard.

Come check out Drew’s great work in The Revenants at The Athenaeum Theater through February 22nd!
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Sadie and the stark at Double Door TONIGHT!

The Revenants is teching this weekend, and will be ready up to help you ring in the new fear with previews January 8th and 9th and opening night on the 10th. But tonight? Oh…tonight…do we ever have a tasty morsel to send your way. Those of you lucky enough to see Sadie and the stark tear it up at Deathscribe 2014 know of which I speak.

Under the Skin...and all through my dreams...

Under the Skin…and all through my dreams…

Jumpstart your 2015 by seeing one of Chicago’s most sinister sirens light up the stage at Double Door. She’s part of a deliciously diabolical line-up, but you know which devil we’re advocating.

Sadie Double Door

Doors at 8 pm. $10 cover. More details here.

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Donate Now! Keep the Blood Flowing in 2015!

You are to blame really. Without your support in 2014 we would not have been able to provide all the twisted hi-jinks of this last year:

The Shadow Over Innsmouth
Super Lovecraft Saturday: The Dreams in the Witch House Reading
Open Heart Surgery: WildClaw Salon
Risen: WildClaw Theatre Easter Special Salon
WildClaw in the Wild: The Boy Who Lived Forever
WildClaw in the Wild: The Old Nurse’s Tale
WildClaw In The Works DCASE Residency: A Taste of Terror
Deathscribe 2014

We hope you will join us again in 2015 as we bring OUR MOST HORRIFYINGLY AMBITIOUS YEAR YET! Join us as we bring a WildClaw fan favorite back to the stage with Scott T. Barsotti’s The Revenants starting on January 8th. Then in June we bring you Motel 666, an original horror anthology.  In the winter, we will kick off the holidays again with Deathscribe 2015 in December and then Charm City, a new play by Clint Shaeffer inspired by the stories of Edgar Allan Poe.

Your donation will help make it happen. EVERY PENNY COUNTS.

You have likely heard this before, but ticket sales alone only cover a small portion of a theatre company’s operating budget. You can support us RIGHT NOW, by making a donation directly through PayPal. It’s fast, free and secure. WildClaw Theatre is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, so your donation is tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.

Or if you would prefer, you can send a check or money order made out to WildClaw Theatre to this address:

WildClaw Theatre
c/o Brian Amidei-Managing Director
3900 N Monticello Ave
Chicago IL 60618

If you own or operate a business, please consider becoming a sponsor of the WildClaw Theatre! Our Sponsors are respected partners in everything we do and their logos and names appear prominently with our thanks in our programs, marketing, and mailers. For more information about the perks of being a WildClaw Sponsor contact Brian Amidei, managing director at


The Revenants 2015 Trailer!

Deathscribe 2014: Fracture Zone WINS!

WildClaw Theatre is delightened and SO frightened to announce that last Monday, our Deathscription was filled when 2014’s coveted Bloody Axe went to Christopher M. Walsh for his tale of underwater exploration gone horribly, horribly wrong, Fracture Zone!

Axe Walsh

He’ll tell you no lies…no matter how much you beg…

First Lieutenant Farragut and Crewman Rickover are members of the crew of the Deep Submergence Vessel NR-2. In fact, they are the only members of the crew that have held onto their lives and sanity (…?), after their mission to investigate seismic anomalies results in the mysterious derangements and dismemberments of their colleagues. Sinking fast with their former crewmates howling at the door, they have rerouted just enough power to record a warning for anyone else unlucky enough to stumble across the “Fracture Zone.” Directed by Sara Sevigny and starring Corrbette Pasko and Noah Simon, this feature from the black lagoon thrilled our judges with its actors’ spot-on timing, the writing’s ratcheting claustrophobia, and Foley effects that left us feeling CRUSHED.

In her house at Factory, dread Sevigny waits dreaming...for Deathscribe 2015

In her house at Factory, dread Sevigny waits dreaming…for Deathscribe 2015

The daemons of WildClaw are toiling away to bring our previous Deathscribes to the website for your aural pleasure. As always, words cannot express our gratitude for all of the hard work put in by our playwrights, directors, actors, musical guests, sponsors and patrons that keeps Deathscribe the definitive horrorday event to make hearts sing and ears bleed. Deathscribe is a celebration of scary stories, more importantly, Deathscribe is a celebration of YOUR scary stories. It would not happen without our audience, our fun, fearsome, fantastic fans that push us every year to bring you the best in live horror entertainment.

Submissions for Deathscribe 2015 will open in the spring, and while it is time to lettuce rest (it was feeling beet), WildClaw’s Winter of YOUR Discontent is far from over. This January, we ring in the new fear with our bold new production of Scott T. Barsotti’s The Revenants:

A violent uprising of the undead forces two couples into hiding, and infected spouses take a turn for the worse. Gary and Karen tether their turning partners, Molly and Joe, for the safety of all; but as Molly and Joe fall deeper into sickness, the question of whether or not they are still themselves becomes harder and harder to answer as they become more threatening. As Gary and Karen come face to face with the true meaning of commitment, they must ask of each other: when does love die?
That ain't the honeymoon suite...

That ain’t the honeymoon suite…

The Revenants previews on January 8th & 9th and OPENS on January 10th at the beautiful Athenaeum Theatre. Join us!

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Walking Dead Beers…

Arcade Brewery releases six-pack comic by Jason Aaron and Tony Moore


CHICAGO (December 8, 2014) — Chicago craft brewery, Arcade Brewery, announced today it will release it’s first volume of 6-Pack Stories™ on new comic day, Wednesday December 10th. Festus Rotgut: Zombie Cowboy is a western zombie comic written by Jason Aaron (Thor / Southern Bastards) and illustrated by Tony Moore (The Walking Dead / Fear Agent) across six bottles of Black Wheat Ale.

IMG_2669 1.JPG

Arcade co-founder Lance Curran said the idea was to tell a story first and then brew a beer to match the story. Co-founder Chris Tourre brewed that beer and says he chose a dark wheat ale because it seemed to fit perfectly with the tale of Festus Rotgut.


“Since there are zombies, I immediately thought something dark,” said Tourre. “Driving a heard of cattle across the dusty landscape also made me immediately go to a dry wheat beer.”


Tourre says he used some specialty roasts to create marshmallow and caramel flavors. He dry hopped the beer too, which Tourre says gives it a spicy finish.

IMG_2670 1.JPG

6-Pack Stories™ creates a unique experience for the craft beer and comic book lover. A rarity in beer and story telling, 6-Pack Stories™ will become an instant collector’s item and a must-have gift for any beer-drinking comic fan.


Festus Rotgut is a limited release and will be available in Chicago area bottle shops. See a map of locations at, or you can buy it online at West Lakeview Liquors, The Beer Temple, and Binny’s Beverage Depot.


Arcade Brewery will host tastings of Festus Rotgut on Wednesday at the following Chicago locations:Kimbark Beverage, Binnys Lincoln Park, Bottles & Cans, and West Lakeview Liquors. Please follow Arcade Brewery on Twitter and Facebook for further details and promos!


About Arcade Brewery

Arcade Brewery is a Chicago-based craft brewery dedicated to creating delicious craft beer inspired by art and community.

Soon you can have your own plastic AHS:Coven….

NTEGRITY TOYS brings on the thrills with the release of a new series of collector dolls based on FOX’s FX’s AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN in 2015!



December 2nd, 2014: As audiences enjoy the debut of the latest installment of the AMERICAN HORROR STORY saga on television, Integrity Toys, Inc., under license from Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products, is thrilled to announce a partnership to produce high-end collectible dolls based on the various characters of fan-favorite COVEN, the iconic third season of the AMERICAN HORROR STORY series.


Pop Culture enthusiasts and fans of the hit TV series alike will be thrilled to take home these intricate collector dolls based on their favorite characters of the bewitching third season of the show! Currently in development, the dolls, slated for release in mid-2015, will be based on the actual likeness of the key characters each dressed in quality miniature replicas of some of their iconic looks from the show. The first dolls are expected to be unveiled in the Spring of 2015 and to ship in Summer 2015.


Integrity Toys designer Vaughn Sawyers voiced his enthusiasm for the collaboration, “As soon as we saw the show on TV, we were mesmerized. The characters, the exciting costumes and the overall feel of the show are just a perfect fit for us to memorialize in miniature for AMERICAN HORROR STORY fans worldwide.”


While the dolls are being developed ahead of their official unveil next Spring, fans and collectors alike are invited to add their email address to the official notification list for the dolls. To access this list, please visit


About Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products

A division 21st Century Fox and recognized industry leader, Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products licenses and markets properties worldwide on behalf of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Twentieth Century Fox Television and Fox Broadcasting Company, as well as third party lines. The division is aligned with Twentieth Century Fox Television, the flagship studio leading the industry in supplying award-winning and blockbuster primetime television programming and entertainment content.


Horror Intro