What drew director Max Truax to Heiner Muller’s forbidding “Hamletmachine”? Until Trap Door’s current production, it hadn’t been performed in Chicago since 2001, when an Argentine company did its puppet adaptation here.
“I had a dream,” says Truax. “It wasn’t a sleeping dream, I was half-awake. I was dreaming about directing another Trap Door play, but when I woke up, tossing and turning, I was directing ‘Hamletmachine.’ So I went to Beata [Pilch, artistic director of Trap Door] and asked her to do the play.” About a year later she gave him the green light, and Truax brought on composer Jonathan Guillen to make an opera of sorts out of Muller’s jagged poetry.
Truax, 35, is no stranger to the form. He wrote an opera adaptation of “King Lear,” called “Furniture,” in his senior year at Oberlin. But for his first two and a half years there, he was an art major.
“I had a drawing teacher who forced us to go to a dance class to observe and draw,” he says. “The next day he surprised us: we had to dance with the class. It was improv dance to music, and at first everyone was scared.