Alchemy Of Desire/Dead-Man’s Blues

A play with Songs. Full Length in One Act. 1M (20s), 2W (20s), 3W (40s-50s). Fluid, Open Space.

Alchemy of Desire at Northwestern

Northwestern University, Chicago March 2005, director: Joanie Schultz Photos ©2005 Scott Neale.

A play with original songs set in a primeval landscape of swamp and burnt-out woods. The death of a young soldier (killed in a recent war) sends his widow, and a community of women left behind, on a journey where the soldier’s ghost, fried chicken and other mysteries of spirit and nature come together in a search for pure grace.

  • Winner of the Rosenthal New Play Prize
  • Northwestern University’s Spectrum Theatre Company (2015)
  • Ball State University, College of Fine Arts, Department of Theatre and Dance (2006) dir Wendy Mortimer
  • Northwestern University Dept of Theatre, IL (2005) dir Joanie Schultz
  • The Bug Theatre, Co (2003) dir Donna Morrison
  • Hackney Empire Studio Theatre, London (1999) dir Dina Elisa Ibrahim
  • Repertorio Espanol, NY (author translation premiere: 1998) dir Michael John Garces
  • Frank Theatre, Minneapolis, MN (1997) dir Wendy Knox
  • Northern Light Theatre International Play Festival, Alberta, Canada (1997)
  • Bridge Theatre, Miami, FL (1996)

    Alchemy of Desire at Ball State

    Ball State University, 2006, director Wendy Mortimer Photo ©2006 Ball State University Dept of Theatre and Dance Archive

  • Royal Court Theatre New American Play Festival, UK (1994) dir Annie Castledine
  • Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, OH (world premiere, 1994) dir Lisa Peterson
  • and productions at: Ithaca College, College of William and Mary, Towson University, Western Washington University, Ohio State University, University of Washington-Seattle, Ball State University and National Theatre Institute, Romania

Developed at ASK Theatre Projects, CA and Playwrights Center’s PlayLabs

Published by TCG in Out of the Fringe: Contemporary Latina/o Theatre and Preformance.


“In Alchemy of Desire/Dead-Man’s Blues, Svich incorporates the sounds of the blues in the South as much as cadences, rhythm, and tone of southern speech. Although the women’s voices have the function of a Greek chorus, their speech  patterns and singing carry the traces of ancestral sounds displaced by the Middle Passage and transformed by their multiple contacts” ~Lillian Manzor on Caridad Svich in Oxford Encyclopedia of Latinos and Latinas in the United States. Volume 1. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2005 (185-6)

“Her writing is often beautifully economical and evocative, reminiscent of William Faulkner’s short stories.” ~TimeOut London

Alchemy of Desire in London


“The play’s main strength lies in its ability to fuse natural, often quite beautiful poetic language with images taken from popular American culture…It is a rich and provocative piece of theatre that deserves to be seen elsewhere.” ~Variety

“Svich’s subject is grief and healing, and the balm she offers audiences is a dark, spooky, earth-bound alternative religion.” ~American Theatre

“A wonderful treathment of the often avoided subject of grief. Marvelous uplifting writing.” Helen Bamber -OBE