Prince Max

“…the genius of #PrinceMax extends far beyond its
“total disregard for chronology and gender.”
…an episode of history rendered more human and alive through
playwright Ellen Caroline Struve’s incorporation of improbable anachronisms.”
– Harold Jaffe, Picture This Post

A bear growling with a pink crown drawn on

(World Premiere)

ellen struve

Playwright Ellen Struve

PRINCE MAX’s Trewly Awful Trip to the Desolat Interior

Written by Ellen Struve

Directed by Elizabeth Lovelady*

In 1832, a Prussian prince hires a young unknown artist to travel the Missouri River and paint a portrait of its people(s), language, guns, astronomy, coffee and bears. This is their story. (Sort of.) With a total disregard for chronology and gender, this delightfully weird world premiere play dives deep into the heart of our American interior.

April 22 – May 21, 2017

Location: The Den Theatre 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL 60622


April 23, 29 & May 8th

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#FreeTheater Initiative

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FreeTheater experiences a high no-show rate, and performances must be over-sold. While turning away patrons is rare, it can occur; these seats cannot be guaranteed.

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Headshots of the cast of Prince MaxCAST (L/R):

Prince Max:   Heather Riordan

Karl Bodmer:    Charlee Cotton

Male Actor:    Scot West


 Woman with red hair and red shirt smiling toward camera

Director, Elizabeth LoveladyPRODUCTION TEAM

Playwright: Ellen Struve
Director: Elizabeth Lovelady
Assistant Director: Marisa Lerman
Dramaturg: Claire Alston
Managing Director: Janette Bauer
Technical Director: Liam Fitzgerald
Stage Manager: Becca Levy
Scenic Designer: Janette Bauer
Costume Designer: Emily Swanson
Lighting Designer: Megahan Erxleben
Props Designer: Janette Bauer*
Sound Designer: Benjamin Zeman
Projections Designer: Rasean Davonte Johnson

Producer: Aaron Sawyer
Producer: Janette Bauer

Dramaturgical Note

Born in Switzerland in 1809, Johann Carl (Karl) Bodmer was a largely self-taught watercolorist and draftsman. In 1832, Prince Alexander Philipp Maximilian (1782-1867) invited Bodmer on what would become a five-thousand mile journey up the Missouri River. As the younger son of the house of Weid-Neuwied, Prince Max had little chance of ruling the province and instead made a career as an explorer and naturalist. Influenced by enlightenment scientists, Prince Max first led a pioneering expedition deep into Brazil seventeen years prior.

After the Missouri, Bodmer’s deluxe illustrated edition of Prince Max’s writings took a decade to complete — and was ultimately a commercial flop. Bodmer settled in France, part of the Barbizon school of painting, and died in 1893.

Together, Bodmer’s portraits and Prince Max’s ethnographies created vivid, detailed pictures of the Plains peoples they met on their travels, capturing a European understanding of an American way of life that was soon to be lost to nationalistic expansion and disease. – Claire Alston, dramaturg

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