Destiny of Desire at the Goodman Theatre
Destiny of Desire at Goodman Theatre
South Coast Repertory presents “Destiny of Desire” by Karen Zacarías, directed by José Luis Valenzuela.

What’s in a name? Prime time soaps in the states are called telenovelas in Latin America. Due to their serpentined plots, the Spanish refer to them as “culebrones” (“long snakes”). Meanwhile, in Chicago, a live telenovela goes by “Destiny of Desire”—at least that’s what Karen Zacarías calls her provocative parody at Goodman Theatre.


“I think the moment is right for a theatrically adventurous, wickedly subversive and raucously entertaining play that defies labels while challenging and celebrating a Latino tradition,” says Zacarías.

The playwright is no stranger to Goodman since the theater staged her past works “The Sins of Sor Juana” in 2010 and “Mariela in the Desert” in 2005. This time around, Zacarías introduces audiences to the telenovela as “Ugly Betty” did with U.S. television viewers in 2006.

“If you’re a fan of the telenovela, you’ll relish the twists and turns that are an essential part of the genre’s allure,” says Artistic Director Robert Falls. “If it’s your first experience, I think you’ll be charmed by Karen’s wit, ingenuity and sobering insights into the issues that confront us today. Either way, I predict you’ll be seduced by the unique pleasures of the telenovela as translated to the stage.”

The show follows two women  – a socialite and a housekeeper – who trade identities for a night. According to Zacarías, “Destiny of Desire” is an “act of rebellion, heritage and joy as well as an aesthetic, artistic and political endeavor.” It’s also a musical with choreography by Robert Barry Fleming and original compositions arranged by Rosino Serrano.

“Karen has masterfully created a raucous piece that combines music, humor, and a political edge that culminates in a night of beauty and provocation of what happens when women decide to take over their own destiny,” says director José Luis Valenzuela. “It is great to be at the Goodman with this play which challenges the perception of Mexicans told through the familiar lens of the telenovela genre.”

“Destiny of Desire” is produced in association with South Coast Repertory and performs through April 16 in Goodman’s Albert Theatre. For tickets ($20-$75), visit or call 312-443-3800.

The run also includes special related events:


March 15 | 5:30 p.m.
Reception at Catch 35; 7:30 p.m. Performance
This fundraiser for young professionals supports Goodman’s New Play Development. For tickets ($65), visit

March 15 | 6 p.m.
Meet-the-Artists Pizza Party; 7:30 p.m. Performance
Students receive dinner and a show for only $10 when using the code “COLLEGE” at

March 16 | 5:30 p.m.
Cocktails and Dinner at Petterino’s; 7:30 p.m. Performance
Female patrons may mingle over dinner and then attend the play for a total of $75 via

March 19 at 5 p.m.
In collaboration with Chicago Foundation for Women, theater-goers can converse with Zacarías about her work as an artist and women’s rights advocate. Receive a free ticket at

Ms. Arvia is a Rebellious columnist and movie critic; entertainment ghostwriter; award-winning artist; and grant-winning filmmaker.

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