Shakin’ The Mess Outta Misery

In November 2017, Pegasus Theatre Chicago—the recipient of seventy-seven Joseph Jefferson awards— will present Shakin’ The Mess Outta Misery by Shay Youngblood. The play follows “Daughter,” the main character and 25-year-old narrator who shares memories of being raised by a community of women after losing her mother as a child. This timeless coming of age tale explores passage into womanhood, race and rituals in the 1960s south. After tragically losing her mother, Daughter is raised by a community of women who share stories of survival, healing,deep faith and mystery. See the Chicago revival of this hit play!

Tickets are on sale here

Image Credit: “In the Spirit” from the original painting by Bernard Hoyes, 18 × 24” Private collection.

About the Production Team

SHAY YOUNGBLOOD (Playwright) Georgia born writer Shay Youngblood is author of the novels Black Girl in Paris and Soul Kiss (Riverhead Books) and a collection of short fiction, The Big Mama Stories (Firebrand Books). She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards including a Pushcart Prize for fiction, a Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award, an Edward Albee honoree, several NAACP Theater Awards, an Astraea Writers’ Award for fiction and a 2004 New York Foundation for the Arts Sustained Achievement Award. Ms. Youngblood received her MFA in Creative Writing from Brown University and has taught Creative Writing to faculty and graduate students at NYU and has been Visiting Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi and Texas A&M Universities. She was recently awarded a National Endowment for the Arts sponsored Japan-US Creative Artist Fellowship for 2011.

ILESA DUNCAN (Director) is the producing artistic director at Pegasus. Her recent directing work includes Rutherford’s Travels (co-adapter), For Her as a Piano and Blacula at Pegasus, Darlin’ with Step Up Productions, Broken Fences at 16th Street Theater, the Jeff Award-nominated The Nativity with Congo Square, and the Jeff Award-winning Jar the Floor at ETA Creative Arts. Duncan has also worked with Goodman Theatre, Writers Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, Lifeline Theater, Stage Left and Chicago Dramatists, as well as Contemporary American Theatre Company (Ohio), The Alliance Theatre (Atlanta), Arena Stage (Washington DC) and Lincoln Center Theater (New York). Ilesa’s creative nonfiction short stories have been published (Columbia College Chicago), and she’s written poems and screenplays.  For the stage, she was a co-writer and director of BLAKK LOVE: STOEEZ OF A DARKER HUE,  and facilitated the group writing project PORTRAITS (2007) for the Chicago Foundation for Women and the devised project DO YOU SEE WHAT I’M SAYING for Chameleon.

SHAWN WALLACE (Music Director/Composer) is a keyboardist, composer and music director. He has music directed and composed for such theatres as MPAACT, Chicago Theatre Company and DanzTheatre Chicago.  He has worked with luminary artists such as Common, Ice Cube, Bobby Brown, Dwele, Johnny Gill, Jon B., Bilal, Estelle, Julie Dexter, Rene Neufville, Rakim, Eric Roberson, Maggie Brown, Ugochi and Cherisse Scott. Shawn studied Music Theory and Composition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and currently serves as Musical Director for two New Thought congregations: The Emmaus Center and the Namaste Center for Spiritual Living-Chicago.  Shawn has worked for several years as a Teaching Artist throughout Chicago schools teaching Record Production and Theatre Tech to youth from 6th through 12th grades. His independent film score credits include; Severed Ties (Showcase Productions/ Lions Gate Films), Puzzle Love (Storybox Productions) and Son of America (Tanskin Productions/N’Spire Entertainment INC).

NICOLE CLARKE-SPRINGER (Choreographer) is a member of Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre where she has performed with artists such as Roberta Flack in Kevin Iega Jeff’s Flack as well as Jennifer Holiday in the world-renowned Penumbra Theatre’s Black Nativity. As a member of Deeply Rooted’s artistic team, Clarke-Springer choreographed works such as Nine, Dounia and Femme, and was Assistant Choreographer to Kevin Iega Jeff for Congo Square Theatre’s Nativity for two years.  In 2013, Nicole was named Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre’s Emerging Choreographer for the program Generations. Nicole received her B.S. in Arts Administration-Dance from Butler University in Indianapolis, IN where she received the award as Butler Ballet’s Outstanding Performer.


Melanie Loren: Daughter
Felicia McNeal: Big Mama
Stacie Doublin|Tina Marie Wright: Aunt Mae
Toni Lynice Fountain: Miss Lamama
debrah neal: Miss Corinne
Sandra Watson: Miss Tom/Miss Mary
Takesha Meshé Kizart: Maggie/Dee Dee
Darian Tene: Fannie Mae/Miss Shine


Music Direction: Shawn Wallace
Choreography: Scenic Design: Elyse Balogh
Costume Design: Paul Kim
Sound Design: Kirstin Johnson
Props Design: Katy Vest
Production Manager: Kelly Butler