MUSE 2017

Femmes Noires de la Resistance

Rounding out its 2017 season, Pegasus Theatre celebrates new works, new artists and new voices with its annual series of theatrical readings, panels and performances featuring female artists intersecting ideas, visions, and artistic excellence.

This year’s MUSE,  Femmes Noires de la Resistance, focuses on black women holding their own power.  MUSE 2017 will feature storytelling duo In The Spirit, spoken word artists collectives Surviving The Mic and HerStory, 3Arts Winner Candace Hunter, as well as musicians L11, Khala Elizabeth, and theatrical performances by Quenna Barrett, Tasia Jones, and excerpts from the plays of Marsha Estell, Loy Webb and Kendeda Winner Tsehaye Hébert. Pegasus will also present a Sneak Peak from the upcoming 2018 Season!

July 13-23, 2017 | Tickets: $10 per performance; Patrons can also purchase Festival passes!

All Performances at:
Chicago Dramatists
773 N. Aberdeen (Theatre Entrance)

30th Young Playwrights Festival

Pegasus Theatre presented the annual Young Playwrights Production in January 2017.  This Festival of next-level student-written plays exploring “Assumptions,” kicked off the 30th Anniversary of the Young Playwrights Festival.  Featured plays included:


By Alexandra Obert – Directed by Juan Ramirez
A barista believes that he has met the woman of his dreams. Things take a nasty turn when he becomes obsessed with her.

Guarding the Princess

By Elyssa Saldana – Directed by Ilesa Duncan
Eadweard the Dragon overzealously guards his beloved princess from all potential suitors, whether a good match or not.

Eye See All

By Ricardo Salgado – Directed by Warner Crocker
Jessica, a paranoid conspiracy theorist, drags her brother into a plan to expose a secret society she believes is controlling the world.

Race to the Finish

By Sejahari Saulter-Villegas – Directed by Ilesa Duncan

Two heaven-bound beings, recent victims of police brutality in Chicago, compete in a game show in this play satirizing All Lives Matter.

The Young Playwrights Festival, the second oldest such festival in the United States, has for 30 years engaged and inspired high school students across Chicago by teaching them to craft one-act plays. Under the auspices of Pegasus Theatre Chicago, the winning teen playwrights’ productions are work-shopped and staged as part of its main stage season. The competition enhances language arts, encourages independent, high-level thinking, strong personal values and influences career development for Chicago’s teens.


YPF Winners Alex Obert, Ricardo Salgado, Elyssa Saldana and Sejahari Saulter-Villegas. Photo credit: Emily Schwartz

The competition received 600 submissions in 2016 with this year’s winners (listed with schools they attended at time of submission): Alexandra Obert of Lincoln Park High School and her play Obsessed; Elyssa Saldana of Whitney Young Magnet High School, Guarding the Princess; Ricardo Salgado of Lane Tech Academy, Eye See All and Sejahari Saulter-Villegas of Kenwood Academy, Race to the Finish.

Regular Performance Tickets: $18-30

Student Matinee Tickets: teachers and school administrators should contact

All Performances at:
Chicago Dramatists
773 N. Aberdeen (Theatre Entrance)



Warner Crocker (Director, Eye See All) is pleased to return to Pegasus Theatre and the Young Playwright’s Festival, a project he participated in for a number of years before leaving Chicago to serve as the Artistic Director of Wayside Theatre in Virginia for 15 seasons. He has produced and directed more plays than he can count and is the author of several. He currently works in Chicago and regionally. Recent directing work includes Boing Boing, Barnum, The Seven-Percent Solution, and The Man Who Murdered Sherlock Holmes, winner of the Jeff Award for Best Original Work.

Ilesa Duncan (Director, Guarding The Princess | RACE to the Finish) is Pegasus’ producing artistic director. Her recent directing includes the Jeff-recommended world premiere of Rutherford’s Travels (which she co-adapted from the National Book award winning Middle Passage), For Her As A Piano (Pegasus). Other credits include Broken Fences at 16th Street Theater (co-directed with Ann Filmer), The Nativity (Congo Square), Darlin’ (Step Up Productions) and Jar The Floor at ETA. 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. Ilesa is a member of the Lincoln Center Theatre Director’s Lab, a NEA/TCG Directing Fellow, and an Associate Artist at Chicago Dramatists.

Juan Ramirez (Director, Obsessed) has been active in Film, Theater and Television for 35 years. As an actor, he has been featured in over 60 productions and was a series regular on ABC’s detective drama “Missing Persons.” As a director, Juan has written, directed and/or produced over 30 stage productions and 2 full length films. His first film, ISRAEL IN EXILE, was a 2002 SLAMDANCE FILM FESTIVAL COMPETITION SELECTION that has been screened in France, England, Spain, Cuba, Mexico and across the U.S. After a brief stretch in Los Angeles, Juan resettled in his native Chicago and became Executive Director of PanAmerica Performance Works, formerly Latino Chicago Theater Company at The Firehouse (a company which he co-founded). He also works with high school students at The Boys and Girls Club in South Lawndale through After School Matters; and the rest of his time developing potential film projects, and helping create community theater spaces.


Marissa Gil (Set Designer) Recent design includes Suessical for Big Noise Theater.  She currently works as Technical Director at Glenbard South High School, as well as a freelance Scenic Designer and Painter in Chicago. She is also a Stagehand at the Hemmens Cultural Center in Elgin. Most recently she designed and supervised students in building Fiddler on the Roof at Glenbard South High School.

Sound | Resolutions (Sound/Projection Designers) is a Chicago based team comprised of artists Larry Nance and Deidre Searcy who seek to create audio and video experiences that engage, evoke and elevate.

Josh Wroblewski (Lighting Designer) is a freelance lighting designer while also working for the University of Chicago and Freeman Audio Visual. Josh obtained his MFA from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and is excited to work with the talented team at Pegasus Theatre again. Past credits include Rutherford’s Travels and the 29th Young Playwrights Festival with Pegasus Theatre, Becky Shaw, A Summons from the Tinker…, and Foxfinder (Las Vegas Valley Award-Best Lighting 2015) among many others. Check out his work at R&D Choreography (Victor Bayona & Richard Gilbert) (Violence Design)R&D Choreography’s Victor Bayona and Rick Gilbert return to Pegasus after designing fights for Rutherford’s Travels.  R&D was founded in 1997 for the purpose of improving the power and effectiveness of Chicago theatre through the art of violence design – choreographing better fights for better shows!  R&D has designed violence for over three hundred productions and films, and taught stage combat at universities, colleges, and workshops. They have designed violence for dozens of Chicago theatres, including About Face, Akvavit, ATC, Bailiwick, First Folio, Griffin, Lifeline, Oak Park Festival, The Paramount, Piven, Steep, Theatre At The Center, Theo Ubique, Two Pence, and Vitalist.

Ross Matsuda (Assistant Director) Previous directing credits include Tweaked by Paul Shoulberg and Talk Radio by Eric Bogosian for the State Theatre of Chicago, along with assistant directing credits with Shakespeare Santa Cruz (King Lear) and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (The Clay Cart & Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter).

Kelly Butler (Production Manager) is a Chicago-based production and events manager. In addition to the 30th Young Playwrights Festival, recent credits include The Mars Assignment (Collaboraction), Cat in Heat (Nothing Special Productions) and Celestial Light Act I & II: Sun and Moon (Samantha Rausch) which debuted at Artscape 2016. In addition, Kelly has also worked in a variety of capacities with NewMoon Chicago, Chicago Humanities Festival, Redmoon, Step Up Productions, American Theater Company, and more.

Rutherford’s Travels

In November 2016, Pegasus Theatre Chicago—the recipient of seventy-seven Joseph Jefferson awards— presented the world premiere of Rutherford’s Travels, an adaptation of the National Book Award-winning novel, Middle Passage, by MacArthur Fellow Charles R. Johnson, who attended the world premiere.

A spellbinding tale based on the beloved book MIDDLE PASSAGE. Told through Rutherford Calhoun’s 1830s log entries, the newly freed Illinois youth has migrated south to New Orleans seeking fortune, where he stows away on an outbound rigger to escape debtors. But The Republic isn’t just any ship. It’s a slave ship and it’s headed to Africa!

The world premiere production was made possible by grants from The Chicago Community Trust, The Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, and The Saints.

About the Production Team

CHARLES JOHNSON (Author, Middle Passage), University of Washington professor emeritus and the author of 21 booksis a novelist, essayist, literary scholar, short-story writer, cartoonist and illustrator, screen-and-teleplay writer, and philosopher. A MacArthur fellow, Johnson received an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature and a National Book Award for his novel Middle Passage. His fiction also includes Dr. King’s Refrigerator, Dreamer, Oxherding Tale, Faith and the Good Thing and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. A native of Evanston, Illinois, he now lives in Seattle.

DAVID BARR, III (Co-Adapter) is the winner of the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work, the Mixed Blood Versus America National Playwriting Contest, the Edgar Allan Poe Award, the Theodore Ward Contest, Unicorn Theatre National Playwriting Award, the Donahue-Tremaine Trust Award for excellence in playwriting and three Illinois Arts Council Fellowships. His plays, which have been produced at the Goodman Theatre, Chicago Dramatists (where he is a resident playwright alumnus) and many other local and national theaters. His works include The Face of Emmett Till (co-written with Mamie Till Mobley), The Death of the Black Jesus, By the Music of the Spheres, A Red Death (adapted from the Walter Mosley novel of the same title), The Journal of Ordinary Thought, Billy (adapted from the Albert French novel of the same title), Black Caesar, The Upper Room and Every Time I Feel the Spirit. Rutherford’s Travels marks Barr’s fifth world premiere with Pegasus Theatre Chicago. Barr is also a co-writer of the screenplay adaptation of “Death Of Innocence: The Story of Emmett Till and The Hate Crime That Changed America”. This screenplay (adapted from the book of the same name written by Christopher Benson and Mamie Till-Mobley shortly before her death) was optioned by HBO Films for development in 2006.

ILESA DUNCAN (Co-Adapter/Director) is the producing artistic director at Pegasus. Her recent directing work includes 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.


Breon Arzell: Rutherford Calhoun
Osiris Khepera: Santos/Diamelo/Riley
Gary Houston: Captain Falcon
Darren Jones: Papa Zerinque
Andrew Malone: Jackson/Ngonyama
Ron Quade: Josiah Squibb
Nelson Rodriguez: Cringle/Rev. Chandler
Tiffany Renee Johnson: Baleka/Almuseri God
Naima Hebrail Kidjo: Isadora/African Mother
Heather Chrisler: Tom/Meadows
David Fehr: McGaffin/Quakenbush


Scenic Design: Elyse Balogh
Lighting Design: Josh Wroblewski
Costume Design: Melissa Perkins
Sound Design: Sarah Putts
Props Design: Alec Long
Violence Design: R&D Choreography
Production Manager: Liam Fitzgerald

Rutherford’s Travels Staged Reading

STAGED READINGS with Music | Adapted by David Barr, III and Ilesa Duncan | Directed by Ilesa Duncan | Music: Shawn Wallace | Choreography: Nicole Clarke-Springer

Friday, April 15 Open Rehearsal | Saturday, April 16 at 7:30pm Staged Reading | Sunday, April 17 at 3pm

Pegasus celebrates the 25th Anniversary of Dr. Charles Johnson’s National Book Award-winning novel Middle Passage with its adaptation to the stage! Join the adventure NOW for our spring workshop reading and discussions.

A spellbinding tale based told through Rutherford Calhoun’s 1830s log entries, the newly freed Illinois youth has migrated south to New Orleans seeking fortune. He soon stows away on an outbound rigger to escape debt and marriage. But The Republic isn’t just any ship. It’s a slaver and it’s headed to Africa!  Be a part of the development in an open rehearsal, a staged reading and discussions!

RT AprCast

Featuring: Rashaad Hall, Diana Coates, Amy Geist, Angelica Herndon, Gary Houston, Osiris Khephera, Luce Metrius, Jeff Meyer, Jonathan Nichols, Aaron Snook, André Teamer and musician Zahra Baker.

Tickets: Regular $12 | Students $10

April 16, 6:00PM Special Event:
Reception with Dr. Charles Johnson, Author of MIDDLE PASSAGE, National Book Award Winner & MacArthur Genius
Click for Event Tickets $25-$300* – Includes the 7:30PM Reading
*Be A Production Donor:
$25 – Stowaway – Reception, Staged Reading
$50 – Shipmate -Above plus Name in Program
$75 – Deckhand – Above plus Advanced ticket to Fall Production
$100 – Boatswain – Above plus guest at a rehearsal in October 2016
$300 – Captain  – Above plus Private Event with Johnson, stage adaptors and cast