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

Mental Health Resources

Play Synopsis:

Hamlet returns home for her father’s funeral which is quickly followed by her mother’s wedding to her uncle (Hamlet’s father’s brother). Hamlet is then visited by the ghost of her father and told to exact vengeance upon her murderous uncle. After this setup, the rest of the play is about whether Hamlet can trust this supernatural information and what she should do next to set things right. She puts on an antic disposition in an effort to get closer to the truth, and in a very meta moment, stages a play within the play, so that she can observe her uncles response to a theatricalized murder. At which point, everything goes to hell. 

These are the actions of the play.  

The plot is important but as theater goers we quickly realize, Shakespeare is more concerned with the questions this plot raises. The title character continues to look to us the audience, and ask… How can we ever know a thing for sure? How do we contextualize grief? Does life have a beautiful plan and purpose, or as all evidence suggests, are we all broken sinners slogging away at a meaningless existence? Does violence beget more violence, or is there a way to stop it? 

This play is memorialized for how its titular character struggles with huge ideas, and by Hamlet’s incredible capacity to find meaning, poetry, and beauty in the bleakest moments. Hamlet’s dying words are a plea – a plea to “Tell my story”. A continued search for understanding and meaning in a death that sees the end of her country, her line, and the grisly demise of every family member we have been introduced to. This tragedy was written four hundred years ago, and continues to help us examine our lives, our griefs, our choices, our intellects, and the things for which we have no words.

This Show is Brought to you in Partnership with The Connecting Routes Project!

Founded in 2019, The Connecting Routes Project is a 501(c)3 nonprofit touring arts collective that strives to unite communities around the nation through shared storytelling. 

We tour one-of-a-kind, uniquely Chicago theater productions by train to towns connected to us along America’s environmentally-sustainable rail lines, while exchanging stories with our audiences through community storytelling programs.

To learn more about Connecting Routes, and to see which train station One Woman Hamlet is journeying to next, please visit their website!

Cast (in order of appearance):

  • Hamlet: Your host for the night, played by Kate Smith.
  • Gertrude: Hamlet’s Mother
  • Claudius: Hamlet’s Uncle, recently married Hamlet’s Mother. 
  • Polonius: Advisor To The King
  • Ophelia: Daughter of Polonius, Love interest of Hamlet
  • Laertes: Son of Polonius
  • Gravedigger: A gravedigger. 

Creative Collaborators!

To Learn more about our Creative Collaborators, check out their bios on our About Page!

  • Writer, Hamlet, Puppeteer, Creator, Producer, Composer, and Performer: Kate Marie Smith
  • Puppet Director for the Stage and Screen: Vanessa Valliere
  • Puppet Designer: Noah Ginex
  • Script Editor: Benjamin Lapean 
  • Director for the Stage: Drew Shirley
  • Projection Director and Editor for the Stage: Dylan Stuckey
  • Community Partner: The Hope For Us Network
  • Tour Manager: Tommy Lukrich
  • Directors for the Screen: Ayesha Abouelazm and Kseni Avonavi
  • Editor/DP/VFX & Sound Designer for the Screen and Laertes projection: Brian Naughton
  • Vocal Coach: Roberta Duchak
  • Promotional Videos: Jenny Lynn Christoffersen and Kseni Avonavi
  • Professional Counselor: Susan Morlock
  • Website Developers: Jill Best & Bill Best
  • Graphic Image Design: Margo Bartler & Joe Siwak
  • Performer: Courtney Abbott
  • Performer: Micheal Angelo Smith
  • Performer: Josh Bernaski
  • Performer: Aaron M. Davidson

Community Partner The Hope For Us Network!

I would like to thank my community partner The Hope For Us Network. The Hope For Us Network is a lived-experience coalition disrupting the highest risk factors for mental health crises. They offer free programming surrounding mental health in the community and on their Twitch channel! Resources in both English and Spanish. You can also check out their resources at the show today!

Creator’s Note:

This show has been a project of love over the past five and a half years. I wrote this show because I wish I would have seen it when I was younger, for my friends I have lost to suicide, and for the community that still places such a huge stigma on mental illness. We lose 700,000 people a year to suicide, this is a global health crisis and we need to do better. 

 It is my hope that by sharing my close calls with suicide, and my struggles with depression and anxiety through the lens of the mediums I love most, music, puppets, Shakesperae, and projections. That we can all come together and realize it’s O.K to not be O.K, and that you are not alone.

I want to close out by saying that there are many facets of mental health which we don’t speak about tonight, such as race, sexual orientation, and social situation. All of these factors alter how we experience mental health struggles, as well as how difficult it can be to acquire assistance. It’s important to acknowledge these factors if we are ever going to break the stigma surrounding mental health. With that said, I hope this show will be a jumping off point, the beginning for you and those you love, and I hope you can feel more open discussing mental health. As Hamlet says “Tell my story”, and Thank you again for being here today/tonight, and remember: It’s O.K not to be O.K.

If you or someone you know is dealing with suicidal thoughts, don’t leave them alone. Call the National suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or 911.

You can also contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. They are available 24 hours, 7 days a week.

Also, you can access additional resources here!