One Woman Hamlet
Shake(speare) the stigma surrounding mental health

One Woman Hamlet is a glimpse into the mind of Kate, the show’s creator, which has been written over five and a half years, supervised by mental health professionals, and from the heart of a creative who has dealt with mental health struggles her whole life. 

Watch Hamlet come to life anew and break the stigma surrounding mental health, with the use of loop stations, puppets, projections, and music. Together, we can realize that It’s O.K Not To Be O.K. 

One Woman Hamlet has been created with the support and partnership of The Hope For Us Network. The Hope For Us Network is a lived-experience coalition disrupting the highest risk factors for mental health crises.

One Woman Hamlet The Film!

Want to watch One Woman Hamlet from the comfort of your own home? Click here to learn more and get tickets! The cost of the ticket is free, with the option to donate!

For more about our creative team, read on!

About The Creator

Meet Kate. (Writer, Hamlet, Puppeteer, Creator, Producer, Composer, and Performer):

Like so many others, Kate has had an intense journey with her own mental health and has lost many friends to suicide and depression. All of this inspired her to create One Woman Hamlet, a show that inspires conversation and education surrounding mental health. Her hope is that people can better understand their own mental health and find the same peace and freedom she has found.

Kate Marie Smith is an award-winning performer and producer in Chicago. You may have seen her most recently in Chicago Shakespeare’s The Taming Of The Shrew, or in the acclaimed indie film Jack and Anna. For five years, Kate also acted as the community outreach coordinator and ensemble member for the theater company One Year Chekhov. Outside of her life as a creative though, Kate is also a trauma-sensitive trained yoga teacher. She has been privileged enough to use this training to teach trauma-sensitive prenatal yoga in Cook County Jail through Yoga For Recovery, and to educate teachers in their 200 hour level certification on the importance of trauma sensitivity in the world of yoga. For the past six years Kate has worked on developing One Woman Hamlet in conjunction with her own journey around depression and anxiety. It was created alongside The Hope For Us Network and with the support and advice of professional mental health counselors. Kate has over 200 hours of extended and certified mental health education, and she is currently working on a tour for One Woman Hamlet the play, and showcasing One Woman Hamlet the film. It has already premiered to great success at The Lift-Off Film Festival and the NY Indie Theater Film Festival. Stay current with Kate right here at

The Film Collaborators

Kseni Avonavi

Kseni Avonavi is an award-winning film director, screenwriter and producer, based in Chicago. Originally from Russia, she has dreamed of being a filmmaker since her childhood and began to write short stories in her teen years. Kseni attended The Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography a.k.a. VGIK  and while a student worked on Russian TV shows for several years. After graduating from Moscow Film School, she continued to work on TV shows and made three independent projects as a film producer and director. Later Kseni applied to several Master of Fine Arts programs in the US and Canada. She chose Columbia College in Chicago where she received a Full Tuition Award and in 2016 Kseni began Columbia’s MFA program. There she worked as a teaching assistant and had her internship on the set of Widows directed by Academy Award-winning Steve McQueen. Kseni’s latest television experience was working as an assistant in the location department on Chicago Med TV Series. She’s currently developing a feature screenplay with her co-writer, Savannah Oakes. 

Kseni’s films have been screened at a multitude of film festivals around the globe where she has won quite a few awards. Inspired by her own experience, Kseni is interested in stories that show human strength and willpower. Kseni is a recipient of the The Albert P. Weisman Award, Carole Fielding Student Grant and The Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation Grant. She is also a recipient of The Lya Dym Rosenblum Professional Development Award. Her thesis film Jack and Anna screened at 40+ festivals. It won the Best Global Short: Beyond the Rainbow Award at the SCAD Savannah Film Festival. It was an official selection of the Academy Award®-qualifying 28th St. Louis Film Festival, the Academy Award®-qualifying Indy Shorts International Film Festival and the American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at the Cannes Film Festival. Kseni was also nominated for the Young Director Award 2020 at the Cannes Lions. 




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Ayesha Abouelazm

Ayesha Abouelazm has written and directed many short films. This includes Love Is A Gray Area (2016), Utterance (2016), The Girl in the Blue Bra (2017) Not On My Shoulders (2017) and Otherwise a Woman (2019). She is a 2017 graduate student of Columbia College Chicago, one of the largest film schools in the entire country. Ayesha gravitates towards stories that are controversial, that focus on underdogs and stories that unveil issues in which most people are afraid to talk about. The Girl in the Blue Bra is one of her more personal works and has been shown in over 25 film festivals so far, where it won “Joint Best North American Short” at the Asia South East Film Festival and best long-short film and the Kinodrome Film Festival. Currently, she is working on the feature length version of this film.

Brian Naughton

Brian Naughton is a Chicago based filmmaker who collaborates with other independent artists to tell unique and compelling stories. He has worked in commercials, sports media, documentary, and narrative film.

Brian believes that the collaborative aspect of filmmaking is what makes the artform so powerful. It allows an idea to grow and become so much greater than the sum of its parts and everyone involved has ownership of it. 

Brian is an award winning director whos last short film, What Goes Up, had a successful festival run as an official selection in 16 festivals garnering 16 nominations and winning 9 awards.Brian holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Directing from DePaul University. His thesis film, Making Beethoven Proud, is preparing for it’s festival run in 2021.






The Stage Collaborators

NYC Producer for United Solo: Kasey O’Brien

Kasey O’Brien is an actor, filmmaker, and theatre artist from the Pacific Northwest. Her short films have been screened at festivals such as Tacoma Film Festival, MINT Film Festival, QFest St. Louis, Detroit SheTown Film Festival, Toronto Intl Women Film Festival(award winner), and Portland Short Fest(award winner). As a performer she has worked both on stage and screen for many years in Chicago and New York. She co-founded Times Three Theatre company and is an ensemble member of Abraham Werewolf. The key ingredients in all of her work are curiosity, imagination, and a little bit of magic. MFA from The New School in NYC. Stay in touch at

Tour Manager for United Solo: Tommy Lukrich

Tommy is an actor and creative originally from Idaho. Growing up he experienced kindness and poverty that shaped him into who is today. Helping others is how he pays it forward. In 2014 he walked from Seattle to New York City after raising $6000 to give in the form of one hundred dollar bills to kind and generous strangers who helped him along the way. He also has a monologues project helping people experiencing homelessness to find and retain housing, while connecting them with other resources. Tommy has a love of nature and adventure. (Usually in conjunction.) He finds joy and hope knowing how beautiful we can be as human beings.

Puppet Designer: Noah Ginex

Noah Ginex has been building creatures amd props around Chicagoland and across the country since 2003. A Joseph Jefferson Award Nominated puppet designer for the Avenue Q with Night Blue Entertainment,  Noah has also built creatures for Threadless, the Masters film program at FSU, the USNA Glee Club, and the Juno-Award Winning Barenaked Ladies to name a few, as well as producing his own show SNORF for three years. When not building, Noah can be seen hosting the quarterly Nasty Brutish and Short Puppet Cabaret with Rough House Theater.  Find out more at or google.

Puppet Director: Vanessa Valliere

Vanessa S. Valliere is a puppeteer, clown and actor who devises her own solo shows, which she frequently presents in Chicago as well as other locations across the United States. She was in the 2017, 2018 and 2020 National Puppetry Slams and in 2020, with the help of a micro-commission by Heather Henson’s Handmade Puppet Dreams and Ibex Puppetry, she made the short film Gut Feelings, which has been officially selected by several film festivals in the US and abroad. She has appeared several times in Chicago’s International Puppet Theater Festival and is currently their artist in residence. Vanessa toured to Berlin, China, The Netherlands and Belgium with Manual Cinema, a cinematic shadow puppetry company, performing in the company’s productions of Ada/Ava and End of TV.  Vanessa also performed for six years as a member of an ensemble of performers for Tour De Fat, a national touring festival. She has performed in Chicago with the Neo-Futurists and The New Colony and she has toured with Theater Unspeakable, a Chicago based physical theater company. Vanessa has performed with Big Nazo puppet company in Providence, RI and she is a proud nerd-cheerleader for Chicago’s thirty-piece circus punk marching band: Mucca Pazza. For more info:

Director: Drew Shirley

Drew Shirley is a director who lives in Chicago with his wife Erika, and his giant mastiff Birdie.  He has won the outstanding director award for Dennis Lehane’s (mystic river) “Coronado” from StageSceneLA.  He has directed Shakespeare and Sartre and Chekhov across the country and most recently Southwest Shakespeares “Macbeth”.
He is currently directing for The Comrades theater company, THE LAYOVER a play by Leslye Headland (Russian Doll) at the Greenhouse Theater Center February 20- March 22,2020.

Projection Director and Editor: Dylan Stuckey

Dylan Stuckey is honored to collaborate with Kate on this incredible project. He has been working as an independent photographer and cinematographer in Chicago for last five years. More of his work can be viewed on his website:

Script Editor: Benjamin Lapean (And Drew Shirley, see above).

Benjamin is originally from Massachusetts, where he grew up in the small town of Colrain. Since moving to Chicago, Benjamin has studied and performed improv (iO Theater), co-wrote and performed in Bellboys, Bears and Baggage (Redmoon Theater), played a principal character in two seasons of a web-series (Tenants), and served as an ensemble member with One Year Chekhov, performing in various iterations of Cherry Orchard, Three Sisters, The Seagull, Ivanov, and Uncle Vanya. Benjamin received a B.A. in English and Theater from Westfield State University.

Special Thanks! 

Thank you so much to all of the individuals, local businesses, and donors who made this show possible. Without each and every one of you One Woman Hamlet would not have been possible. Thank you for believing in Mental Health awareness and for believing in One Woman Hamlet! 

Individuals: Benjamin Lapean (Script Editor), Drew Shirley (Script Editor), Roberta Duchak (Vocal Coach), Jenny Lynn Christoffersen (Promotional Videos), Susan Morlock (Professional Counselor), Jill Best & Bill Best (Website Developers), Margo Bartler & Joe Siwak (Graphic Image Design), Courtney Abbott (Performer), Micheal Angelo Smith (Performer), Josh Bernaski (Performer), Aaron M. Davidson (Performer) 

Businesses: Dark Matter, Hope For The Day, The Flowerman, Smack Dab, Treble on The L, Dan Plehal Acro Yoga Instructor, Straub Handmade, Glenwood Dance Studio, New 400 Theater, About Face, Metro Yoga, First Ascent Climbing Gym, Yogaloft, Absolutely Chicago Segway Tours, Timeline Theater Company Donors: Barry Fultz, Aaron Davidson, Iris Kohler, Ander Saenz, Patricia Smith, Misty Davidson, Benjamin Lapean, Lindsay Brown, Sam Attaguile, Kylie Stack,Gail Harder, Jillian Best, Bill Best, Jameson Lapean, Eric D., Judy Smith, Miriam Reuter , David Meldman, Lindsay Brown, Amy Morris, Dan Plehal, Jim McCaffrey, Andrew Embry, Jake Smith, Josh Bernaski, Sarah Hecht, Tamsen Glaser, Andrew Canada, Tommy Lukrich, Jane and Steve Smith, Laura Durham, Brian Scannell, Skyler Schrempp, Elodie Senetra, Liz Rao, Oscar Villa, Hunter and Lori Johnson, Laureen Siciliano, Ronald Roman, Zoe Benditt, Richi Schiraldi, Emily Molloy, Brittany Anderson, Mary Oconnor, Bridget Walsh Davis,Criswell Davis, Sharon