Our Mission

Artistic Director Beata Pilch founded Trap Door with a commitment to seeking out challenging yet obscure works and bringing them to life. Whether it is a European classic rarely seen in the United States, an untarnished piece of American literature, or the playwright living next door, Trap Door will find these voices and present them to the public through innovative expression. We utilize old traditions mixed with the new to illustrate the absurdities of living in today’s society. Founded in 1990, Trap Door began as a nomadic troupe, thrilling the European theaters of Stockholm, Berlin, Zakopane and Paris with its grass roots, avant-garde expressionism.  It was on these stages that our trademark style of myth, ritual and revolution first crystallized.  In March of 1994, Trap Door brought the stagecoach home to America, along with the exotic sensibilities that it had developed on its low budget, international tours.

Our History

Incorporated in March of 1994, Trap Door Theatre took their three-year tradition of touring European Theatres and Festivals and transferred it to Chicago’s world-renowned Off-Loop Theatre scene. Residing in its permanent home, a 60-seat, 900 square foot converted performance space in Bucktown, Trap Door has presented over seventy productions.  Now on the cusp of their 15th season, this groundbreaking group continues to win the praise of critics and patrons catapulting a whirlwind of activity, keeping the doors open year round.

The first few years lead the young theatre and its ensemble members to accomplishments and growth unexpected for such a fledgling company. Since our inception, our work has earned us multiple awards, crammed our house to the gills and more than doubled our company membership.  Laurels came in droves from The Saints, The Illinois Arts Council, The Mayer & Morris Kaplan Foundation, The Richard Driehaus Foundation, The Alphawood Foundation, The Bucktown Community Organization, The French Embassy, Governor Jim Thompson, private businesses and The Joseph Jefferson Committee. Chicago Sun Times journalist Lucia Mauro designated Trap Door the best avant-garde theater in the city, and in 1996 Trap Door earned its first Jeff nomination for co-founder Sean Marlow as Best Actor for his powerhouse role in Jean Genet’s The Maids. Chief critic Albert Williams called it, “the kind of reckless, impractical, edgily energetic production that established Chicago theatre as a force to be reckoned with a generation ago–and that marks Trap door as a significant troupe for today.”

Selling out and standing high on the Chicago Reader, New City, and Chicago Tribune‘s recommended lists, Trap Door’s productions brought our dynamic ensemble hosts of local investors and the following merits from critic, Chris Jones: “Trap Door demonstrates its nerve and competence in work few others would dare perform.” In 1998, Trap Door went back to its Eastern European roots with Polish absurdist classic The Mother.  Capping off that dream season was our Jeff Nominated Alien Hand, a live-wire adaptation of Moss Hart’s old Broadway musical Lady in the Dark. Chicago Reader’s Chief Critic, Albert Williams, wrote that Alien Hand “affirms Trap Door’s place at the forefront of the Chicago fringe theater scene.”  Such extensive credits have indeed made Trap Door the vanguard of the alternative arts in Chicago.

Our fifth season was an even greater success. Noted Steppenwolf director Sheldon Patinkin joined forces with Trap Door to direct the production of Eugene Ionesco’s The Killing Game.  It was also a main showpiece in the Chicago Cultural Center’s Bastille Day Festival.  Patrick Meyer’s Feedlot went on to win an After Dark Award for Best Ensemble. “Trap Door is known for attacking complex, subversive works with gusto, and this production only adds to that reputation”  Nick Green, The Chicago Reader.

Never have we had such a successful season opener as our sixth season’s production of Lebensraum by Israel Horowitz. Gay Chicago Magazine hailed it as “our finest work to date and one of the year’s very best”.  As a result, Lebensraum had a lucrative, sold-out run and won three Jeff awards for Best Supporting Actor, Actress and Ensemble.

The 2001/2002 season brought in scores of reviews, allowing Trap Door to work with some of the best artist’s in Chicago. We took a step back in time and brought Bertolt Brecht’s Baal to bear on the self-destruction of the modern artist. German director, Stefan Brun, founder of Chicago’s Prop Theater, plied his talents on our stage as an Epic Theater specialist and member of the Berliner Ensemble, the world’s foremost theater for Brecht. Trap Door then went on to become the proud recipient of a Joseph Jefferson award for Best Ensemble for Chay Yew’s Porcelain. Standing tall on all of the city’s highly recommended lists, Trap Door wrapped up the season with its sold-out summer hit, The Automobile Graveyard by Fernando Arrabal. “Trap Door has carved a niche reviving the European avant-garde and reviving it quite well” Chris Jones, The Chicago Tribune.

Trap Door opened its eighth season with Stanislaw Witkiewicz’s The Shoemakers. Due to popular demand, this production enjoyed an extended and sold out run. Trap Door then ventured on to do Doug Wright’s Quills, directed by Trap Door’s very own artistic director, Beata Pilch. This long-awaited Midwest Premier made Trap Door reach new heights in their artistic growth and the response was so overwhelming, that Trap Door extended the production and played to sold-out houses. “Beata Pilch’s Trap Door production is the most visually interesting and creative show at this theater in quite some time…the show is intense, lively, fast-paced and never dull” Chris Jones, The Chicago Tribune. Trap Door continued its success with Fernando Arrabal’s, The Architect and the Emperor of Assyria. The Cultural Services of the French Embassy awarded Trap Door first prize for this complex, multi-media production.

Trap Door’s ninth season was their most successful to date and brought upon an onslaught of accomplishments and recognition ranging from winning awards to global exposure. Trap Door started out their season with Jean Paul Sartre’s, The Flies, a modern interpretation of the Orestia, earning Trap Door its’ first Jeff Recommendation for the year. Then the Trap Door set out to reach their greatest artistic endeavor to date with the American premiere of Emile Zola’s, Nana, earning rave reviews and a Jeff Award for Best Ensemble, playing to consistent sold-out houses, attracting prestigious theatre aficionados, and creating exposure on a grand scale. “…ingenious staging…. electrifying…. intoxicating… harrowing”, Justin Hayford, The Chicago Reader. Our season kept growing with Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Katzelmacher, which explores how xenophobia infiltrates an already crippling small town mentality. Katzelmacher sold out and was awarded Best Ensemble of 2002 from Windy City Times. “The laudably fast-paced and provocative production of Katzelmacher directed with nerve and verve by Beata Pilch and Krishna LeFan, is the best Fassbinder outing to date,” Chris Jones, The Chicago Tribune.

Trap Door took its 10th year off to rehabilitate its performance space to include a larger and more comfortable seating area, a spacious and elegant lobby area and a gorgeous new bathroom. The grand reopening of Trap Door’s 11th season began with our hugely successful hit, Garden of Delights by Fernando Arrabal; the production left our patrons hungry for more. Next at the Trap, Steppenwolf ensemble member and award winning playwright Tracy Letts directed the American premiere of Werner Schwab’s People Annihilation or My Liver is Senseless.  2005 concluded with the sold-out hit AmeriKafka directed by Kate Hendrickson with K.K. Dodd’s performance ranked in Chris Jones’ “Top 10 performances of 2005”.

Upon its 11th season, Trap Door opened with Witkiewicz’ The Crazy Locomotive which enjoyed a month run in Chicago before playing in the New York International Fringe Festival. Matei Visniec’s Old Clown Wanted then had its Midwest premiere at the Trap before a blockbuster run in New York at the HERE Alternative Arts Center for the ACT FRENCH festival. The Midwest Premiere of Janusz Glowacki’s The Fourth Sister, stated by the Chicago Tribune as one of the “Top 5 Shows of 2006”, sold out during the cold winter months.  We ended our season with Franz Xavier Kroetz’ Request Programme winning Performink’s “End of Year Round-Up” for best performance by Carolyn Shoemaker and best production. Trap Door continues to fundraise each year to take a company of actors to Europe to visit festivals, theatres, and meet other artists in search of the same quest.

In its 12th year, Trap Door Theatre had the extreme pleasure and success of illuminating the provocative genius of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears of Petra Van Kant open our 2006 season.  His mastery of re-defining gender roles with shear and subversive eloquence was revealed to a rapt audience thanks to “directors Pilch and Krishna Lefan who reinvented this classic on the Trap Door stage with a design team and cast who was infused with incomparable talent and intelligence”- Venus Zarris, Gay Chicago Magazine.  The production triumphed at Gay Chicago Magazine’s After Dark Awards, taking home “Best Ensemble”, “Best Costumes” and “Best Performance”.  Inspired by our strong collection of talented female company members, Trap Door brought to life Susan Sontag’s Alice in Bed.  The production was extremely popular and sold out continuously, particularly with various women’s groups throughout the city.   Tapping into theatre’s diverse roots, equal parts surrealism and mythic Greek fantasy, Trap Door’s production of The Swan, by Elizabeth Egloff, used potent symbolism to retell a modern day Cinderella story.  John Kahara, a long time member of Trap Door, was Jeff nominated for his extraordinary portrayal of a swan that transforms into a man.  The highlight of the season was our four-city Romanian Tour taking with us the productions Old Clown Wanted by Matei Visniec, Stanislaw Witkiewicz’s The Crazy Locomotive and M.S. Garvey’s musical and poetic documentation of communicating with George Bush by mail in Letters to the President.  In the future, Trap Door hopes to continue to collaborate with foreign artists and participate in European festivals, bringing their work abroad and exposing it on an international level.

Our 13th began with an intense focus on women of political power to highlight the talented women artists that comprise Trap Door’s company membership while regaling famed female figures who have played a part in history’s leadership, revolution, and artistic evolution.  Trap Door Theatre’s interpretation of “Emma,” Howard Zinn’s portrayal of a captivating radical, succeeds phenomenally in the company’s mission statement of bringing life to difficult stage text… vibrant, even electrifying acting across the board, with a particularly dazzling Beata Pilch as Emma”- Monica Westin, Newcity Chicago.   Emma was listed among Gay Chicago Magazine’s “Best of Stage” commemorating great theatre moments of 2007 and nominated for a Joseph Jefferson award.  We then tackled “Copi’s demanding script (Eva Peron) with mischievous grace”, described Justin Hayford of the Chicago Reader with “a gutter-regal central performance by Holly Thomas as Eva”Time Out.  Eva Peron appropriately won Newcity Chicago’s award for “Top Five Guilty Pleasures of 2007”.  Our female finale, Beholder by Ken Prestininzi was described as  “a protofeminist tale that also delves deeply into the push-pull of an artist’s psyche — poetic, emotionally fraught and unresolved as the lives of its fascinating (and perfectly neurotic) characters. Betsy Zajko [gives] a self-testing performance”; with Kate Hendrickson directing, “the production n[was]as beautiful and richly haunted as a Modersohn-Becker painting” – Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun Times.  Beholder was extremely well received by critics with a total of eight out of eight glowing reviews and won Gay Chicago Magazine’s “After Dark Award” for “Incidental Music”.  This year we also tackled a new genre, Opera! As the “reliable purveyor of opaque and often-scabrous European avant garde work”, we dipped our toes “into crowd-pleasing waters by importing “The Beastly Bombing,” a light-hearted musical homage to hatred created by librettist Julien Nitzberg and composer Roger Neill”- Kerry Ried, The Chicago Tribune. 

Trap Door Theatre’s 14th anniversary season was honored with the esteemed Etant donnes Award from the French American Cultural Exchange (FACE) for our American premiere of No Darkness Round My Stone by emerging French playwright, Fabrice Melquiot.  “No Darkness Round My Stone is a spellbinding, poignant, chilling and profound mix of existential destitution and sweet tenderness. Do not miss this unique opportunity to experience a challenging, chilling, peculiar and incomparably haunting production”.- Venus Zarris, Chicago Stage Review.  New City Magazine listed the production for its Top Five Shows of 2008, and Performink, Chicago’s top ranked trade publication marked No Darkness Round My Stone  as the “Best Production of 2008” for its End of Year Review.  Ewellina Dobietz was also honored by Windy City Times as “Best Scenic Design” for 2008.  We followed another American premiere, award winning Scottish playwright Torben Bett’s The Unconquered.  This fast-moving satirical portrait of patriarchy, political indolence and over-reaction was highly recommended by Tony Adler of The Chicago Reader and by Chicagocritic.com.  Thanks to a generous grant from the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and the Romanian Institut in New York, Trap Door brought to Chicago the popular Romanian director Radu Alexandru-Nica to command the vision of yet another American premiere, Horses at the Window by French/Romanian playwright, Matei Visniec.  Highly recommended by TimeOut Chicago, New City and The Chicago Reader Horses at the Window went on to perform at the Fun-Underground Festival in Arad, The International Theatre Festival in Sibiu, and the National Theatre in Bucharest.  The highlight of the tour was performing in a 12th century fortress atop a peak at the base of the Carpathian Mountains in the village of Cisnadiora as part of the International Theatre Festival in Sibiu.  This production was also invited to showcase at the Tenth National Symposium of Theatre in Academe at Washington and Lee University in Lexington Virginia and also at the New York Performing Arts Library celebrating “Playwrights Before the Fall: Eastern European Drama in Times of Revolution” and the 20th anniversary of the fall of communism.  As Horses at the Window was thriving abroad, Trap Door’s season finale, A Couple of Poor, Polish Speaking Romanians by Dorota Maslowska was thrilling critics and audiences alike. “With Gripping! Full-frontal Nihilism!”- Kerry Reid, Chicago Tribune. Polish novelist Maslowska explores the struggles of class and national identity with humor and pathos.  Described as “challenging but breathtaking expressionist theater…a gorgeous and off-balanced abstract piece about identity, class and xenophobia…truly inspired performances from the entire cast” – Monica Westin, New City Chicago.

Repeat recommendations by critics and audiences alike, made 12 Ophelias a fantastic start to our 2010 season. This “verbally kaledidoscopic, bluegrass-infused re-imagining of Hamlet’s spurned lover” -Catey Sullivan, Chicago Magazine re-tells the classic Shakespeare tale from a woman’s perspective.  In the capable hands of resident director, Kate Hendrickson, this “fiercely sexual and expressionistic production” marks Trap Door Theatre as “one of Chicago’s most radical dramatic outposts”-Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun Times.  Trap Door was overjoyed to have artistic associate, Nicole Wiesner, back with us to present her directorial debut of Howard Barker’s Minna.  This continuously sold out production smoldered for audiences and press: “violent, grotesque, absurd… and in the hands of first-time director Nicole Wiesner, it’s also thought-provoking, visceral, and darkly funny.  The ensemble’s passionate but precise performances are supported by imaginative set, costume, and sound design that immerse actors and audience alike in a vivid dream world ”-Albert Williams Chicago Reader.  This season was dramatically finalized with the world premiere of Chaste: An Awful Comedy.  This production was the dynamic collaboration of resident director Kate Hendrickson and L.A. playwright/ Yale University’s playwright in residence, Ken Prestinizi.   Highly recommended by The Chicago Reader, The Chicago Sun Times and The Chicago TribuneChaste captured the insanity, pain — and yes, the uttercomic madness too — that is endured …as a very young and intellectually precocious Salome (Sarah Tolan Mee), attempts to establish a “marriage of minds and soul”.  Kate Hendrickson directs “in a boldly stylized way marked by the enormous physical dynamism of her actors” -Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun TimesChaste went on to receive local accolades including, “Best Fringe Theatre” of 2010 from the Chicago Tribune, “Best Theatre of 2010” from the Chicago Sun Times and “Best of Chicago Theatre 2010” from the Huffington Post.  Also in 2010, Romania and Poland hailed Trap Door Theatre’s production of A Couple of Poor, Polish Speaking Romanians as an international tour de force.  The piece shined center stage at the Fun Underground Festival in Arad, Romania and at the Bagatela Theatre in Krakow, Poland.   This international tour marks Trap Door’s third trip abroad.

We opened our 2011 season with Pierre Nottes’s Me Too, I am Catherine Deneuve , rated “four Stars…. it’s a production whose small moments are likely to linger in the mind like something from a New Wave film “-John Beer, Time Out Chicago.  With generous support from The Cultural Services of the French Embassy and the Étant donnés Award, Trap Door Theatre brought to Chicago and the greater United States emerging French director Valery Warnotte to lead the manifestation of this recent Parisian smash hit.  A U.S. premiere, this witty, imaginative and grotesque family drama reveals the liberating and destructive elements that occur as each member suffers the varying effects of an identity crisis.  Press and sold-out audiences responded to this “recommended production …A stylish U.S. premiere by the ever-worldly Trap Door Theatre “-Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun Times.  Playwright Pierre Notte made a special trip to Chicago to witness the production and provide a special talk back for French language students from the University of Chicago.  Additionally, Trap Door brought the production to Atlanta Georgia in December, Washington DC in April, and is also scheduled for a month long tour within France in the spring of 2012.  Continuing our momentum, Trap Door mounted the infamous epic of the collapse of Communism in East Germany, Hamletmachine by Heiner Muller.   Spear-headed by Trap Door’s critically acclaimed resident director Max Truax and composer Jonathan Guillen, Hamletmachine was staged as a modern, electronic, opera.  Our company was humbled by extremely kind press and sold out performances:  “No theater company in Chicago can combine madness and conceptualism better than Trap Door, and “Hamletmachine” is a near-perfect vehicle to showcase their genius” -Monica Westin, NewCity.  We finalized this incredible year with Werner Schwab’s The First Ladies.  Making his Trap Door debut, the production was directed by TUTA artistic director, Zeljko Djukic.  Trap Door’s long time artistic associate and principle actress, Nicole Wiesner, left her Equity contract to participate in the project.  Her dedication was rewarded by an honored recognition of “Best Actress” from the Joseph Jefferson Committee.   Venus Zarris from Chicago Stage Review agrees, stating, “Trap Door at its most morbidly magnificent…. a once in a lifetime theatrical treasure You will never see anything like this combination of writing, direction and performance because no one but Trap Door Theatre has the guts and chops to seek out insane genius from relative obscurity and incarnate it with such staggering clarity.”

2012 was a triumph for the Trap.  First out the gate was Werner Schwab’s Overweight, Unimportant: Misshape; A European Supper, A U.S. premiere directed by former European Rep Artistic director and Steppenwolf ensemble member Yasen Peyankov.   Trap Door was honored to receive a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for the first time to support this production.  Schwab is known for his visceral poetry, Tony Adler of the Chicago Reader notes, “A jaw-dropping production…This has got to be one of the most unabashedly vicious things I’ve ever seen on a stage. I loved it”. Thanks to a generous grant from the Trust of Mutual Understanding and the French Consulate in Chicago, Trap Door has brought guest Hungarian/Romanian director Istvan K. Szabo to Chicago from Romania to lead the vision of is Matei Visniec’s The Word Progress on My Mother’s Lips Doesn’t Ring True.  We hope to take the production to Romania in the summer of 2013.  March brought Peter Handke’s They are Dying Out orchestrated by resident director Max Truax whogives us eight expert players with striking faces and voices whose laments about the spiritual costs of doing business are a hypnotic Gregorian chant” - Emily Gordon, Time Out Chicago. To highlight the year, Trap Door embarked on its much anticipated six-week, four-city tour of France, a new stamp on Trap Door’s theatrical passport, showcasing last year’s smash hit, Me Too, I am Catherine Deneuve in Paris, Mulhouse, Vélizy and Dieppe.   In the same trip, Trap Door Theatre’s Artistic Director Beata Pilch, was honored with a three month working artistic residency in Paris made possible by the Program Cité Internationale des Arts.  This immersion will enable future collaborations, provide professional development, and manifest Trap Door’s international identity.  Meanwhile, back home in Chicago, the World Premiere of Ruth Margraff’s Fly in the Soup opened at the Trap.  An adaptation from Ionesco’s film scenario Anger, this piece was created especially “the raucous, challenging, giddy ensemble over at Trap Door Theatre…the European-styled company has a knack for utilizing Trojan horse sweetness to turn dense manifestos melliferous.”  An added bonus to the season, Trap Door hosted award winning playwright Emilio Williams’ World Premiere summer comedy hit, Smartphones.  To sum up this momentous year, Trap Door’s 2012 season was named “The Best String of Theatrical Stunners” by The Chicago Reader.

Our 2013 season began with Max Frisch’s The Arsonists, directed by Parisian Clowning Master, composer, musician, director and Founder of Cie Umbral Theatre in Paris, Victor Quezada-Perez.  Quezada composed an original score for the chorus of firemen to provide a general soundscape for the production.  The result, as Venus Zarris from Chicago Stage Review suggests is “what Trap Door consistently has to offer; something that you have never seen that takes you to places where you never dared to dream.”  Artistic Director Beata Pilch returned to the director’s chair to bring Vaclav Havel’s The Unveiling and the world premiere in English of its follow-up piece, Dozens of Cousins delivering “a manicured, high-strung staging” making “the submerged menace of the pieces hilarious, bracing, and deeply disturbing…recommended!” notes Justin Hayford, of The Chicago Reader.  Trap Door had the honor to be invited to perform throughout Romania with last year’s groundbreaking piece, Matei Visniec’s The Word Progress on My Mother’s Lips Doesn’t Ring True.  The company traveled to Bucharest, Sibiu, Suvceava (Moldova), Radauti (Moldova), Bucharest and Oradea and performances at the prestigious International Theatre Festival in Sibiu.  To prepare for the tour, Trap Door remounted the production for a two week run.  Highlights of the tour include consistently sold out performances four star accommodations, performance venues, meals and over all hospitality.  Additionally, director, Istvan Sazbo K joined the Trap for the entire tour, and playwright Matei Visniec joined for half .  With much of the company abroad, the year was rounded out with Goethe’s Core of the PUDEL (Gutting the Legend of Faust), a work produced by Trap Door Theatre, conceived and directed by Thom Pasculli and mentored by Beata Pilch.  This unique piece, in the words of Kerry Reid from The Chicago Tribune, “reimagines and tears apart the essence of the Faustian bargain through a stunning physical vocabulary” and that “Trap Door Theatre has become the go-to company in town for presenting smart and uncompromising contemporary European work”.

Trap Door Theatre’s 20th anniversary season was ambitious and embodied the essence of our dynamic identity. The season opened with Jeff recommended production of Jean Genet’s The Balcony directed by Max Truax, that continued Trap Door’s “long tradition of presenting mature, challenging political theatre for discerning audiences”- Dan Jakes, Time Out Chicago. Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Blood on the Cat’s Neck followed, a remount honoring Trap Door’s 1996 rendition that imprinted the company as a destination on Chicago’s theatre scene, also Jeff recommended. Howard Barker’s Judith: a parting of the body, directed by Fullbright Scholar Zeljko Djukic asked the ever-pertinent question “Kill or fuck?”- Keith Griffith, Chicago Reader. Also Jeff  Recommended, “Judith” is not a straightforward retelling of the ancient story, but Djukic and his dexterous cast create a resonant, poetic exploration of the inner psychological undercarriage of the characters”. -Megan Powell, Time Out Chicago. In Spring, “director Beata Pilch’s playful, fast-paced, and sardonic production”  (Kerry Reid, Chicago Sun Times) of Slawomir Mrozek’s Vatzlav gave tribute to our Polish roots. Vatzlav was remounted to headline Chopin Theatre’s “Tribute to Z. Herbert and S. Mrozek,” a weekend festival honoring these literary geniuses. We closed our platinum year with the World Premiere of a new translation by Pascal Collin of Albert Camus’s The Just Assassins entitled Regarding the Just with support from the MacArthur Foundation. French director Vallery Warnotte returned to the Trap to direct this reinvention of the classic work. Rock and revolution rioted the stage with live music from members of Garvey Train, Trap Door’s house band. This year also brought to Trap Door thirteen amazing new talents named the Associate Ensemble who will carry on the legacy of the company in the years to come. This celebratory year was marked by Time Out Chicago’s recognition of Trap Door as Chicago locals top pick for “Storefront Theatre on the Northwest Side”.

The Trap Door opened their 21st season with a project in the making since the company’s inception; an alliance with the theatre’s original inspiration, the Witkacy Teatr in Zakopane Poland. Together with the theatre’s founding member and Artistic Director, Andrzej Dziuk, they created a new adaptation of Stanislaw I. Witkiewicz’s The Madman and the Nun entitled John Doe. The piece was work-shopped in Zakopane, and returned to Chicago for a full run at Trap Door. That February, Trap Door was given the honor to return to perform the piece as part of the Witkacy Teatr’s 30th anniversary, an event that also celebrated the 100th anniversary of the playwright Witkiewicz’s death. The work was a return to the style and material that gave rise to our unique niche; “Trap Door once again reminds us of its unique ability to translate vital but underproduced (in the U.S., anyway) European masterworks with visceral intelligence and scorching wit.”-Kerry Reid, Chicago Tribune. Regarding the Just, last season’s French collaboration, embarked on a 5-city French tour in November. The world premiere of “Cookie Play” by U.S. playwright, Ken Prestininzi, with Trap’s resident director Kate Hendrickson at the helm was“wrapped in enthralling suspense, engaged in an ideological debate and afloat in a sea of imagined sequences and metaphors, often in rapid succession. -Steven Chaitman, Windy City Times. The company then shook up their typically obscure programming with a piece in the classical genre, La Bête, written by David Hirson and directed by Kay Martinovich.  Lead actor Kevin Cox received a Jeff Award for his endearing and fearless performance … one of the secret weapons of the storefront theater scene” –Kerry Reid, Chicago Tribune. Costume designer Rachel Sypniewski also received a Jeff Award for her work, such “a great opportunity for fancy clothes, wigs, and make-up, and she made the most of it”- Jacob Davis, Chicago Critic. The season concluded with the Midwest premiere of Roland Schimmelpfennig’s Woman from Before, directed by Elly Green who nailed “the volatile love triangle at the play’s center, maintaining a precise balance between deadpan absurdity and psychological terror” -Justin Hayford, Chicago Reader. The Jeff recommended production was a “piece that crawls under your skin and into the darkest depths of your mind” – Sean Kelley, New City Chicago.

2016 marked Trap Door’s 22nd year, and was punctuated with popularity at the box office and in the press. In Trap Door’s tradition of empowering company members (and women for that matter) with opportunities to shine artistically, Literary Manager Emily Lotspeich stepped into the director’s seat to lead the vaudevillian vision of “The Universal Wolf” by Joan M. Schenkar. Original composition from company member Mike Mazzocca scored the work with live music giving a cabaret feel to this “amusing fractured fairy tale” recommended Chicago Critic, Jacob Davis. Continuing with the fantastical feel for the season, company member Nicole Wiesner directed the box office smash “The Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls” by Meg Miroshnik, a “multivalent, hallucinogenic thrill ride that … rarely fails to mesmerize (Justin Hayford, Chicago Reader). This “stellar all-female cast” (Gwen Purdom, TimeOut Chicago was marked by two Jeff nominations for the work of Marzena Bukowska and Simina Contras. Trap Door Theatre then embraced to the 17th century work “The Duchess of Malfi” taken to gory-ous heights under the direction of Classics scholar and director Christopher Marino hailing from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. “Surprisingly funny and disturbing as Hell”, (Kerry Reid, Chicago Tribune), the work delivered John Webster’s classic with guts. Trap Door’s annual international collaboration, made possible with support from the Trust for Mutual Understanding, welcomed Zoltán Balázs from Budapest’s Maladype Theatre to direct Matei Visniec’s most “known” work, “How to explain the history of communism to mental patients”. Danny Rockett took home a Jeff Award for his remarkable execution of original music to accompany the production’s “extremely spellbinding vignettes” amounting “to a sort of slow-motion work of contemporary movement art” (Clint May, Chicago Theatre Beat). A Trap Door season is not complete without a Polish nod; this year we were honored to manifest Warsaw’s young urban author and playwright Dorota Maslowska’s work “No Matter How Hard we Tried” under the watch of one of Trap Door’s resident directors, Max Truax. With the Polish Institute in New York’s assistance, Trap Door was able to bring Maslowska to Chicago to witness the work and connect with local audiences.

Chicago Reader names Trap Door Theatre as runner up for Best Off Loop Theatre Company! Best of Chicago 2018

Time Out Chicago recognizes Trap Door as one of the best storefront theatres in the city!

Trap Door welcomes
New Resident Director: Monica Payne
and New Resident Sound Designer: Danny Rockett

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