A party honoring the life and work of Chicago theater and film artist Ben Byer will go on as planned despite Byer's July 3 death.
Byer died after a long battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Diagnosed with ALS in 2002 at the age of 31, Byer spent five years researching, shooting, and raising funds for Indestructible, a documentary about ALS. Previously seen at festivals and in theaters around the country, the film is scheduled for its Chicago theatrical premiere 7/18 at the Gene Siskel Film Center. To mark the occasion, Byer and his family had been planning a bash at Prairie Moon Restaurant, 1502 Sherman, Evanston. The event will go on as planned: Thu, 7/17, 5 to 9 PM. RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Before turning to film, Byer made his mark in off-Loop theater as a playwright and actor. Critics noted the influence of such writers as Mamet, Shepard, and LaBute in the black humor that permeated his Take It Deep (inspired by his experience selling beef from the back of a truck) and Versailles. He acted in shows at such off-Loop theaters as Trap Door, Stage Left, and Cafe Voltaire, most notably playing a paraplegic Presley impersonator in the Sang Froid Theatre Company production of Lee Hall's dark comedy Cooking With Elvis.