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I wanna fucking tear you apart

by Morgan Gould
Directed by Jessica Fisch

Featuring ensemble member Jessica Ervin

Midwest Premiere
January 10 – February 16, 2020

The show runs 90 minutes with no intermission.



Samantha and Leo are a team—best friends and roommates, fat girl and gay guy against the world—until a new friend upends their cozy co-dependent diet of mutual self-loathing and Grey’s Anatomy marathons. An ode to the complications of friendship in its many fucked-up forms, with a special nod to a kind of love that sometimes looks a lot like rage.

Produced first at D.C.’s Studio Theatre, I Wanna Fucking Tear You Apart challenges assumptions around niceness, beauty, and mainstream acceptance as it upends traditional narratives about fat women—Gould herself identifies openly as such—by putting a fat woman at its center. “I’m not chubby or big-boned,” says Gould. “I’m fat. That’s who I am”.


Directed by Jessica Fisch, director of Rivendell’s highly successful world premiere production of The Firebirds Take the Field, Gould’s play is a wild ride with unforgettable characters that asks probing questions about friendships, fatness, bigotry, ambition, and the cost of living in a world that finds you unacceptable in some way.



Through Thick and Thin: A Review of I Wanna Fucking Tear You Apart at Rivendell Theatre Ensemble

“…The theater is starved for fat-positive representation. “Fat-fat. Not TV-fat,” as playwright Morgan Gould makes a point to clarify. In Gould’s “I Wanna Fucking Tear You Apart” at Rivendell, directed by Jessica Fisch, do not expect to see a story about the bravery of society’s victims as they triumphantly overcome adversity. This isn’t a play about fatness as shown in the media. This is a play about the deep-seated, traumatic effects of lifelong discrimination and bias. It’s a play about people. It’s also a play about friendship.”

Read more here


I Wanna Fucking Tear You Apart feels like a sitcom about extended adolescence

“…Their island of mutual acceptance and submerged shame is disrupted when Chloe (Jessica Ervin), a straight cis white female aspiring novelist from suburban Maine, befriends Leo and tempts him with the siren song of the norm. It’s like a sitcom where all the characters are writers. Sam and Leo’s relationship is the main attraction and drawn well.”

Read more here

around town hciago-1.webp

Review: “I Wanna F***ink Tear You Apart”

“…This play challenges us to look at the world around us and hopefully will challenge the way people think about “Fat” people and “Gay” people. Sam and Leo are just “people” who have a special love that is theirs even when they are fighting. There are times they seem like a married couple as we take a trip with them into the world of friendships, bigotry toward fat people, ambition, and living in a world that does not accept you as you are, wanting you to change.”

Read more here

Community EVENTS

Rivendell provides several opportunities throughout our runs to see the performance and also take part in additional access, entertainment, or insight. For I WANNA FUCKING TEAR YOU APART these include:

Sunday, February 17th at 3:00pm – Additional Sunday 3pm matinee 

Audiences have been asking for Sunday matinees – get your tickets while you can!



Friday, March 1st at 8:00pm – Mama’s Night / Ladies Night

Following the performance, please join us in our rehearsal studio for wine, cheese and some great conversation!



Friday, March 8 at 8:00pm – Planned Parenthood benefit night

See a show and support Planned Parenthood at the same time! $10 of every ticket sold will be donated to Planned Parenthood of Illinois. 



Friday, March 15 at 8:00pm – Open Captioned Performance

Join Rivendell for an 8:00pm performance with open captioning. $15 Tickets available with the code “ACCESS”.


Saturday, March 16 following the 4pm matinee – Town Hall Discussion

During each Rivendell production, town halls happen after select Saturday matinees, and are an essential touchstone for our organization to extend the conversation from the stage to the community. Panelists help field questions, present observations, and participate in supporting a thoughtful, in-depth dialogue for all involved. Audience participants need not be present for the Saturday matinee and are welcome to join the conversation following the performance.

Sunday, March 10th and March 17th – Additional Sunday 3pm matinees 

Audiences have been asking for Sunday matinees – get your tickets while you can!


Teressa LaGamba (Sam) is a Chicago based actor/musician from Pittsburgh, PA. She has performed feature roles in productions with Porchlight Music Theatre, Paramount Theatre, Boho Theatre, Marriott Theatre, Kokandy Productions, Emerald City Theatre, Broadway in Chicago, Griffin Theatre, Haven Theatre and more. She received her BA in Acting and American Sign Language from Columbia College Chicago. In her free time, Teressa writes music and spoken word poetry, stares at her plants and pretends like she can cook like her mother. For her coven for their unconditional love/very literal support, Jess for her fierce ally-ship and Morgan for her courage BUT ALSO for having such a pretty face. And for the fat girls. Mostly to the fat girls. Proud member of Actor’s Equity Association. Represented by Paonessa Talent.


Robert Quintanilla (Leo) is thrilled to make his Rivendell debut with this incredible team! Chicago credits include productions with Porchlight Music Theatre, The House Theatre, Circle Theatre, Pride Films and Plays, and Music Theatre Works to name a few. He would like to thank Jessica Fisch and Tara Mallen for this amazing opportunity and Morgan Gould for this important text. This production is dedicated to all the baby fats and gays out there creating their own Team Fat/Gay! Robert sends his love to his family and Shirley Hamilton Talent for all their support! Follow Robert on Instagram @princequesadilla!



Jessica Ervin (Chloe) is an ensemble member at Rivendell. She received an equity Jeff nomination for her portrayal of Ester in Dry Land, and has also worked with Rivendell on Scientific Method (understudy), Alias Grace, The Firebirds Take the Field, WOMEN AT WAR, and the staged reading 381 Bleecker. Additionally, Jessica has worked with The Sound, Walkabout Theatre, Route 66, Erasing the Distance, The Public House, and Blue Goose Theatre Ensemble. Most recently, Jessica returned to Ball State University, her alma mater, to devise and perform an adaptation of Frankenstein as part of Indiana Humanities’ One State One Story initiative. She can be seen on film in Princess Cyd and the upcoming projects Teacher, Injustice, and Stalled. 



Morgan Gould (Playwright) is a fat-fat, not tv fat New York based writer/ director who is a Resident Playwright at New Dramatists and current Lila Acheson Wallace Playwriting Fellow at Juilliard. Morgan’s play I WANNA FUCKING TEAR YOU APART, is a Beatrice Terry/ Drama League Award Winner, and had its world premiere at Studio Theatre in Washington, DC in February 2017 (with Morgan directing). It was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding New Play, and DC Metro Arts said that Morgan’s work “shows every bit as much promise as Edward Albee’s early work, arguably more.” Morgan has directed productions at the Humana Festival, Marin Theatre Company, Ensemble Studio Theatre, P73, and more. Morgan is also the Artistic Director of Morgan Gould & Friends – her theater company with 9 actors, 3 designers, and a filmmaker ( and their work has been seen at many NYC venues including HERE Arts Center, Ars Nova, The Ice Factory and more. Morgan is developing a half hour original series with Amazon Studios and Will Graham/Field Trip Productions.



Jessica Fisch (Director) is excited to be back at Rivendell after directing the World Premiere of The Firebirds Take The Field and Fefu and Her Friends (Goodman Theatre/Rivendell Latinx Celebration). Recent credits: Cry It Out (Northlight Theatre), You Across From Me (Actors Theatre of Louisville, Humana Festival), Late Company (Cor Theatre), Straight White Men (Associate Director, Steppenwolf), Trudy, Carolyn, Martha and Regina Travel to Outer Space (Actors Theatre of Louisville, Humana Festival), The Rosenkranz Mysteries: An Evening of Magic (The Royal George), Opulent Complex and That Thing That Time (Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Tens). Jessica is so FUCKING thrilled to be collaborating with her dear friend Morgan Gould on this project. They literally climbed up from the bottom together (or more aptly climbed the 6 flights of stairs at Ensemble Studio Theatre together). Jessica is a proud SDC member and #MomDirector. MFA: Northwestern University. 


Production Team


Gina Marie Hayes (Drag Consultant) (Lucky Stiff) is a drag and variety performer working in Chicago and New York. Their work spans theater, burlesque, and performance art and takes inspiration from Weimar Germany, pierrot clowns, and golden age musicals. They have been seen at Berlin Nightclub (Chicago), Steppenwolf Theater, Disco Dining Club (Los Angeles), Hardware Bar and Metropolitan (New York), Bushwig 2017, Ace Hotel Chicago, and Soho House Chicago, among many others.


Miranda Anderson (Stage Manager) is excited to be working at Rivendell! Recent Chicago credits include productions with The House Theatre, The Hypocrites, TimeLine Theatre, First Folio Theatre, Steppenwolf and Lookingglass. Regional credits include touring with The Hypocrites’ Gilbert and Sullivan productions to Olney Theatre Company, Pasadena Playhouse, Skirball Center at NYU, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville and American Repertory Theatre. Miranda is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association.

Regina García (Scenic Design) As an RTE Ensemble member, Regina designed sets for Baron’s Eat Your Heart Out and Dillman’s American Wee-Pie. She has long standing relationships with the Latinx Theatre Commons and its renowned Teatros including Repertorio Español, the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, Teatro Vista and Pregones Theater. Recently completed projects include: Merrimack Repertory Theatre; Steppenwolf; and The Denver Center for the Performing Arts in co-production with The Old Globe. She is a Fellow of the NEA/TCG Career Development Program for Designers and the Princess Grace Awards, USA; and a Regional Associate member of the League of Professional Theatre Women. She teaches at The Theatre School @ DePaul University. @rmgp1977 

Anthony Churchill (Projections Design) collaborates on media for theatre, events, and installations. After last season’s Scientific Method at Rivendell, recent projections and media work include Marriott Theatre, Raven Theatre, The Cher Show, Q Brothers, Porchlight Music Theatre, Silk Road Rising, Theatre Wit, Stage Left, Museum of Broadcast Communications, Big Noise Theatre, 16th Street Theatre Berwyn, and BoHo Theatre—where he is a proud company member. Tony has been nominated for 3 Jeff Awards for Projections, winning one in 2017 for Body of An American. When not working on plays, he enjoys sculpting tiny astronauts in peril, and playing projections with his band, Grape Juice Plus.


Heather Gilbert (Lighting Design) is a Chicago based designer. Her designs have been seen on many Chicago stages including The Hypocrites, The Goodman, Court Theatre, Writers’ Theatre, Northlight Theatre, and countless storefronts all over the city. Her regional credits include Oregon Shakespeare Festival, American Repertory Theater, Studio Theatre, Magic Theatre, Kansas City Rep, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Huntington Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Alley Theatre, Berkeley Rep, Pasadena Playhouse, and Actors Theatre of Louisville. Off Broadway includes Barrow Street Theatre. International credits include the Almeida in London and the Singapore Repertory Theatre. Heather was a recipient of the NEA/TCG Career Development Grant and the 3Arts Award. Heather serves as the Head of Lighting Design at Columbia College Chicago, and received her MFA at the Theatre School at DePaul.


Jeffrey Levin (Original Music and Sound Design) is a composer, sound designer, and musician based in Chicago. Jeffrey is happy to be working with Rivendell for the first time. Jeffrey has contributed original music and sound designs for over 100 productions for many theaters in and outside of Chicago. Awards and recognitions include 8 Joseph Jefferson Award Nominations for Sound Design and Original Music and one win, the Edes Award for Emerging Artists, the Michael Philippi Prize (2016), the Kleinman Composition Competition Winner, a Chicago Theatre Award (The Hawk Chicago), 2 Broadway World nominations, and a Wilde Award Nomination. Education: Masters of Music from DePaul University and Bachelors of Music from Columbia College Chicago.

Alison Siple (Costume Design) Recent projects include On Clover Road (American Blues Theatre), Fantastic Mr. Fox (Emerald City Theatre) and Guards at the Taj (Milwaukee Rep).

Jonathan Berg-Einhorn (Properties Design) is a Chicago-based designer and artisan. Jonathan has previously worked with companies including The Goodman, Chicago Shakespeare, Paramount Theater, Hope Summer Repertory Theater, Underscore Theatre, Something Marvelous, and Mudlark Theatre. Favorite design credits include: Scientific Method, HeLa, Haymarket, Johnny 10 Beers’ Daughter, Bomber’s Moon, Curious George: The Golden Meatball, Alice in Wonderland, Ghosts, The Seven Deadly Sins, The Cripple of Inishmaan, Endgame, and Prometheus Bound. He holds a BFA in Scenic and Costume Design from Boston University.


Catherine Allen (Production Manager) is thrilled to continue her work with Rivendell where she was previously Production Manager for Scientific Method, The Cake and Cal in Camo. Other production management credits include work with Steep Theatre, where she is also an Artistic Associate, About Face Theatre, Griffin Theatre, Route 66, Congo Square, Oak Park Festival Theatre, Pegasus Theatre Chicago, Haven Theatre, Chimera Ensemble, and many circuses with Actors Gymnasium where she is the staff Production Manager. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she received a BFA in Acting.


Hannah Siglin (Assistant Director) is so happy to be working with Rivendell for the first time! Other Chicago credits include Suddenly Last Summer (Assistant Stage Manager) at Raven Theatre and The God of Isaac (Assistant Stage Manager) at Piven Theatre. Hannah recently graduated from Columbia College with a B.F.A. in Theatre Directing. Her directing credits at the college include Orlando, 24-Hour Play Festival, One-Act Play Festival, Carmilla, and Springtime.

Manuel Ortiz (Technical Director) is a Chicago native actor, carpenter, designer and photographer. He received his BFA in Acting at DePaul University. When he is not building and/or performing on stage, you can find him at home joyfully playing with all 15 of his animal friends (yes, he has pictures). As an artist, he has devoted  himself to many artistic mediums  such  as  puppeteering, makeup,  lighting,  and  more. Working in such a prodigiously diverse community of captivating artists, Manny has grown and hopes to continue to collaborate and cultivate a community of inclusion and ardent passion of theater in a new  in hopes to one day operate a Theater and education training grounds/facility for all ages.  

Tara Mallen (Rivendell Artistic Director / Producer) is an actor, director, and the Producing Artistic Director at Rivendell Theatre Ensemble. She is the 2017 3Arts William Franklin Grisham Awardee and the 2014 Volunteers of America Silver Star Awardee. Most recently Mallen was seen onstage in The Cake for which she won the 2018 Jeff award for Performer in a Principal Role. In 2016 she performed in the world premiere production of Lynn Nottage’s Sweat at Arena Stage. Prior to that she was in Rivendell’s Jeff nominated world premiere productions of Look, we are breathing and Rasheeda Speaking. Tara appeared in Steppenwolf’s How Long Will I Cry: Stories of Youth Violence written by Chicago Journalist Miles Harvey. She was part of the ensemble in Rivendell’s world premiere, Jeff nominated production of The Walls and played Jolene Palmer (inspired by the true-life story of Aileen Wuornos) in Rivendell’s award winning production of Self Defense, or the Death of Some Salesmen—both productions part of Steppenwolf’s Visiting Theater Initiative. For Rivendell, Tara has produced and acted in over twenty-five productions. She received a Joseph Jefferson Award for Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Gwenyth in WRENS as part of that production’s Jeff-winning ensemble. She was nominated the following year for Actress in a Principal Role for her work in My Simple City. Her screen credits include Steven Soderbergh’s film Contagion opposite Kate Winslet , the Starz series Boss starring Kelsey Grammer, the NBC pilot of Chicago Fire, the CBS/Sony Pictures pilot Doubt, the NBC series Chicago P.D. and the Netflix series Sense8 directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski. With Rivendell, Tara conceived and directed the world premiere of WOMEN AT WAR, directed the Jeff nominated Midwest premieres of The Electric Baby, 26 Miles (co-production with Teatro Vista); Fighting Words; Psalms of a Questionable Nature; the co-production of Elliot, a Soldier’s Fugue with Stageworks/Hudson in Hudson, NY; and the brief and brilliant Shady Meadows by Lisa Dillman as part of the 2007 Chicago Humanities Festival.

Jackie Banks-Mahlum (Rivendell Managing Director / Producer) is an arts manager, producer, and educator based in Chicago. She was thrilled to join the Rivendell Theatre Ensemble as the Managing Director in March 2014. Jackie is also the Membership and Development Associate at Arts Alliance Illinois, and the Co-Producer for Theatricum Botanicum. Previously Jackie was in the Los Angeles area where she worked with Center Theatre Group’s P.L.A.Y., the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Theatricum Botanicum. She has also freelanced regionally where she has had the opportunity to work in a variety of performing arts including opera, ballet, modern dance, improv, and theatre. She is a member of Actors’ Equity Association, has a Bachelor of Science in Theatre Production and Business Management from Bradley University, and a Masters of Fine Arts in Producing from the California Institute of the Arts.


I Wanna Fucking Tear You Apart production photos are courtesy of Michael Brosilow and feature ensemble member Jessica Ervin with Teressa LaGamba and Robert Quintanilla.
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Leo & Sam.jpeg
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Video: I Wanna Fucking Tear You Apart interview with playwright Morgan Gould and actress Teressa LaGamba
Video: I Wanna Fucking Tear You Apart trailer
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