12 Ophelias:

A Play With Broken Songs

Written by Caridad Svich

Directed by Kate Hendrickson

September 24, 2009 – October 31, 2009

Shakespeare’s Ophelia rises up out of the water dreaming of Pop Tarts and other sweet things. She finds herself in a half-remembered land where Gertrude runs a brothel, Hamlet is called Rude Boy, and nothing is what it seems. In this mirrored world of word scraps and cold sex, Ophelia cuts a new path for herself.

Combining original music with poetic and colloquial language, 12 Ophelias is a theatre song-poem about being broken by society and love, being lost and finding yourself again.

“Ophelia comes back to life in Caridad Svich’s intriguing play 12 Ophelias: A Play With Broken Songs, now in director Kate Hendrickson’s fiercely sexual and expressionistic production at Trap Door Theatre, one of Chicago’s most radical dramatic outposts. Far more surreal and twisted than Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. 12 Ophelias is a reminder of just how morphable and mysterious Shakespeare’s original remains. Recommended!” – Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times 

“Extraordinary brilliance… aesthetically beguiling and emotionally ravaging. Trap Door Theatre consistently creates worlds that exist outside of the matrix of conventional and practical thought but still manage to evoke emotional and visceral reactions that profoundly connect to our human experience, thereby challenging the boundaries of perceived impossibility. 12 Ophelias: A Play With Broken Songs is one such extraordinary paradigm shift that should not be missed.” -Venus Zarris, Chicago Stage Review

“A verbally kaledidoscopic, bluegrass-infused reimagining of Hamlet’s spurned lover. In Svich’s dreamscape adaptation, Ophelia doesn’t conveniently vanish under a pond after Hamlet dumps her: She tells the moody Dane to go F himself. Then she seduces him, cheered on by a chorus of singing sister Ophelias.” – Catey Sullivan, Chicago Magazine 

“Set in an erotic dreamscape, Caridad Svich’s imaginative reworking of Ophelia’s story follows the doomed girl as she rises out of a pool of water and seems to repeat her tragic romance with Hamlet, now called Rude Boy. Mildred Marie Langford’s earthy, anguished take on Ophelia meshes well with the wry compassion of Jen Ellison and Casey Chapman… the Appalachian-inflected songs, played by an ensemble of white-clad women, adds a heavenly-chorus aspect to this intriguing… portrait of a woman scorned and reborn.” – Kerry Reid, Chicago Reader 

“Recommended. Atonal and hauntingly subdued pop/folk songs [underscore] the dark moods of the piece… throughout this strangely intoxicating 90 minute one-act. Raw emotions and vivid sensuality erupts once Ophelia rises from her watery grave to fulfill her carnal desires. Mildred Marie Langford, as Ophelia and Kevin Lucero Less anchor the piece with their powerfully manic performances laced with sensuality and lust. The sheer emotional depth and theatricality of the play grabs us and holds us throughout.” -Tom Williams, Chicagocritic.com


Caridad Svich is an Latina-American playwright, translator, songwriter, and editor. As a playwright, songwriter, editor and translator living between many cultures, including inherited ones, the idea of departure has always been not only an actual or metaphorical basis for writing her work, but also an idea made manifest through the enactment of writing, its performance, and her living of it. Born in the US of Cuban-Argentine-Spanish-Croatian parents, she have felt in a strange kind of exile even while growing up as an “American.” This sense of dislocation extends to the fact that as a child and adolescent, she lived in several states: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Florida, North Carolina, Utah, New York, and California, not to mention many cross-country road trips in between. The nomadic strain was thus instilled in her and has become an inevitable part of her writing vision. Explorations of wanderlust, dispossession, biculturalism, bilingualism, construction of identity, and the many different emotional terrains that can be inhabited onstage form the basis of her plays and other writing projects. Visions of migration (both physical and spiritual) dominate the plays, which have become, in turn, documents of internal diasporas. She has translated contemporary works from Argentina, Spain, Mexico, and Cuba. Svich has written such plays as Fugitive Pieces, Any Place but Here, Alchemy of Desire, and Iphigenia… a rave.


Kate Hendrickson is a resident director at Trap Door and has developed and sustained long-term collaborative relationships with several playwrights, steering multiple world premiere productions to critical and popular success. Together with Ruth Margraff and the Trap Door ensemble, she created ANGER/FLY which was recognized in the Chicago Reader “Best Of” edition as part of a Trap Door season presenting the “best string of theatrical stunners.” Other Trap Door credits include Cookie Play and Chaste and Beholder (Jeff Award for “Best New Work”, After Dark Award for “Best Original Music”). Chaste received “Best of the Year” nods in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Stage Review, and the Huffington Post. Hendrickson also directed Midwest premieres of Prestininzi’s AmeriKafka, Howard Zinn’s Emma (After Dark Award for “Best Ensemble”), and 12 Ophelias by Caridad Svich.

Cast: Casey Chapman, Géraldine Dulex, Noah Durham, Jen Ellison, Joslyn Jones, Nikki Klix, Mildred Marie Langford, Kevin Lucero Less, Emily Lotspiech, Judy Loyd, Alyson Lyon, Pamela Maurer

Crew: Assistant Director: John Kahara/ Choreographer: Camille Kuthrell/ Composer & Arranger: Allison Chesley/ Music Director & Composer: Nicholas Tonozzi/ Makeup Designer: Zsófia Ötvös/ Lighting Designer: Gina Patterson/ Set Designer: Joseph Riley/ Stage Manager: Dianna Driscoll/ Fight Choreographer: Mathias Moloff/ Graphic Design & Photos: Michal Janicki