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Shakin' the Mess outta Misery Program Information

Shakin’ the Mess outta Misery

Written by Shay Youngblood

Directed by Dr. Lundeana Thomas


Produced by special arrangement with
The Dramatic Publishing Company of Woodstock, Illinois.

Scenic and Lighting Design: Michael Hottois
Costume Design: Dr. Daryl Harris
Sound Design: Garry Brown and Tommy Neville

Setting: A small southern town; A place where memories and dreams coincide

Time: 1950s to Present

Cast List

Daughter: Jody Ann Henry
Big Mama: Lisa Banks
Aunt Mae: Iva-Kristi Papailler
Miss Corine: Renea S. Brown
Miss Mary/Miss Shine: Takayla Williams
Miss Lamama: Tia Davis
Miss Tom/Young Woman: Phoenix Jenkins
Miss Rosa/Maggie: Andéjà Tyler
Dee Dee/Fannie Mae: Chavon Lewis

Notes from the Director

This production is dedicated to the “Big Mama” life of Glenda Dickerson who made her transition in January of this year. She was the director of the original production of Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery back in 1988 as well as a consummate theatre innovator. Dickerson was never egotistical or ethereal and she could have been since she was the second African American woman to direct on Broadway, but she was just down-to-earth homefolk. She will be missed –Ashe!
Last summer, when I saw the movie, The Help, it brought back reminisces of this play, the stories of maids in the south. This production speaks about “the maids” and their lives after they went home from working at white homes to the work in their communities raising their children being “Big Mamas.”  
I am so grateful to Shay Youngblood for having the fortitude to acknowledge her “Big Mamas” in an artistic form of appreciation. We want to give one big “Thank You,” to all the “Big Mamas” in the audience tonight and we hope you will all go home and send a thank you to all your “Big Mamas”

Dr. Lundeana M. Thomas (Director) is a Full Professor and Director of the African American Theatre Program (AATP) of the University of Louisville’s Theatre Arts Department and a recent Awardee of the Louisville Defender ‘s Professional Achievement and the Black Theatre Network Lifetime Member Awards.
She received her undergraduate Bachelor of Science Degree in Secondary Education from Youngstown State University. After studying at the University of London, she began teaching Drama and Public Speaking at East High School. She received her MA and Ph.D. Degrees in Theatre Studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and taught at Spelman College and Bowling Green State University before coming to the University of Louisville in 1996. Dr. Thomas has taken students and colleagues to Beijing and Xiamen, China as well as the National Black Theatre Festival. She has performed at the Grahamstown Festival in South Africa and last summer she was a panelist at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. She directed the Chinese classic, The Orphan of Chao at the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival and the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, NC. She has received numerous awards including the Theatre Education Award from New York’s Theatre Museum, a Citation from the President of Brooklyn, and the Women of Spunk Award from the Actor’s Theatre of Louisville. Dr. Thomas is a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the More than Conquerors Christian Church and has been named the Chair of the Black Family Conference.

Clyde Tyrone Harper (Assistant Director) earned his BFA from Wayne State University and is a nationally recognized artist and director. He established the C&J Street Players, a professional mine company and was awarded “Excellent in Theatre” awards by the Detroit Free Press as a director of Shakin’ the Mess outta Misery and a best supporting acting award for Two Trains Running. Clyde has toured and worked with artists Marvin and Vickie Wynans, actors Ella Joyce and Ruben Santiago Hudson, and playwright Ron Milner. In 1989 Clyde was appointed to head up the Summer Youth Arts Employment Program in the Council of the Arts department of City government. Clyde’s has appeared as The Moving Man in A Raisin in the Sun at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Stool Pigeon in King Hedley II at UofL, Wolf in Two Trains Running at Detroit Repertory Theatre, and Luigi in We won’t Pay We won’t Pay at The Attic Theatre in Detroit. Clyde currently serves as the Director of Replication at The Healing Place.

Lisa R. Banks (Big Mama), Louisville, KY, graduated from UofL with a BA in Theatre Arts. She is the Drama Ministry Leader at Canaan Christian Church and the Founder and Artistic Director of HIM Productions. She has appeared as Aunt Em/Glenda in The Wiz, and as Sojourner in A Woman Called Truth, both at UofL. Her most recent performances include Soloist in Black Broadway in Concert with RTE Productions, Narrator in God Speaking and Donia in The Lord’s Lady, which she also wrote and directed, both at Canaan Christian Church, and as Evilene in The Wiz with Music Theatre of Louisville.

Renea Brown (Miss Corine), Lexington, KY is a junior Theatre Arts major.  Past performances at UofL include Ensemble in Mad at Miles: A Black Woman’s Guide to Truth, Juliet in Measure for Measure, Martha in Lift Every Voice, and Ashley in Don’t Call Her Bitch (Studio Theatre). Past credits elsewhere include Juror #10 in Twelve Angry Women, Fran in The Heidi Chronicles, McCavity in Cats, and Widow Benton in Pollyanna, all at the School for the Creative and Performing Arts at Lafayette High School.

Tia L. Davis (Miss Lamama), Atlanta, GA, is a first-year MFA student in Performance.  She earned her BA in Theatre from Berea College. This is her debut performance at UofL. She recently appeared as Black Woman with Fried Drum Stick in The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World at the Jeckyl Drama Center at Berea College.

Jody-Ann P. Henry (Daughter) St. Catherine, Jamaica is a second-year MFA student in Performance. She earned her BA in Theatre from Nova Southeastern University.  Past performances at UofL include Comedy Mascot in Plays: A Play and Ensemble in Mad at Miles: A Black Woman’s Guide to Truth. Past credits elsewhere include Feste in Twelfth Night, Lois in Wonder of the World, Ms. Prism in The Importance of Being Earnest, and Doctor in Baby! The Musical, all at Nova Southeastern University Theatre.

Phoenix Yvonne Jenkins (Miss Tom, Young Woman), Winter Haven, FL, is a first-year MFA student in Performance. She earned her BS in Sociology from Kentucky Wesleyan College. This is her debut production at UofL. Past credits elsewhere include Euridyce in Antigone at Kentucky Wesleyan College.

Chavon Lewis (Dee-Dee, Fannie Mae), Louisville, KY, is a sophomore Communications major. This is her debut production at UofL. Past credits elsewhere include Sour Kangaroo in Seussical the Musical and Princess in Once upon a Mattress, both at Ballard High School.

Kristi Papailler (Aunt Mae), Louisville, KY, is a second-year MFA student in Performance. She earned her BA in Humanities, Theatre, and Literature from UofL. Previous productions at UofL include Delia in Blues for an Alabama Sky, Ensemble in Mad at Miles, The Wizard in The Wiz, and Dussie Mae in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Past credits elsewhere include Rhonda Lynn in Christmas Belles, Lucy in Dracula, and Calpurnia in To Kill a Mockingbird, all at the Kentucky Repertory Theatre, and Irma Slocum in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever at Stage One. She trained in Suzuki and Viewpoints with the Siti Company in New York, NY.

Andéjà Tyler (Maggie, Miss Rosa), Louisville, KY, recently appeared as Loureen in Poof! at UofL. Past credits elsewhere include Lady in Pink in For Colored Girls who have Considered Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuf with RTE Productions.

Takayla “T-Kay” Williams (Miss Mary, Miss Shine), Riviera Beach, FL, is a first-year MFA student in Performance. She earned her BA in Theatre Arts from Clark Atlanta University. This is her debut performance at UofL. Past credits elsewhere include Terry in Extremities, Mama in Breath Boom, Florie in Eden, and Big Mama in From the Mississippi Delta, all at Clark Atlanta University. She has also presented at the New Playwrights Festival, Horizon Theatre, the National Black Theatre Festival, and Colligate Playwright Festival.

Michael Hottois (Scenic and Lighting Design) is the resident Scenic and Lighting Designer for the Theatre Arts Department. Michael has designed well over 300 major productions with some of his favorites being Woyzeck, Ring ‘Round the Moon, Metamorphoses, Arsenic & Old Lace, and Uncle Vanya. Over the past few summers he designed Always, Patsy Cline; All Shook Up; The Producers; Ain't Misbehavin'; and No, No, Nanette for the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse in New York. His credits as a scenic artist include the films Boris and Natasha and Closetland, as well as Soul of the Game for HBO. He is also a member of United Scenic Artists Union, Local 829.

Dr. Daryl Harris (Costume Design) is a professor of Theatre Arts at Northern Kentucky University. He is a 40-year veteran of traditional, experimental, applied, and educational theatre. He has studied and worked as a producer, writer, director, actor, costume designer, professor and lecturer throughout the United States, Canada, Scandinavia, West Africa and China. In addition to teaching diverse interdisciplinary theatre courses, Harris' work involves multicultural programming and projects that link the Underground Railroad Movement to the fields of theatre and dance, connecting themes emerging from the Movement to current social problems in ways that promote understanding and greater social harmony.

Garry Brown (Sound Design), Production Manager for UofL Theatre Arts, supervises the production of scenery, properties, lighting, and sound. His design and production experience locally includes the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Stage One: Louisville Children’s Theatre, and Music Theatre Louisville. He holds an MFA from the University of Memphis and teaches stagecraft, sound design, and welding.

Tommy Neville (Sound Design) Atlanta, GA, is a senior Theater Arts major. He has served as Sound Designer for Measure for Measure and Richard III at UofL, as well as being responsible for Sound Arrangement in Blues for an Alabama Sky and Atomic Bombers. He has also appeared as Heath Ledger in Hell's Awesome and Donny in Lambs (Studio Theatre), as well as assorted voice-overs in Atomic Bombers. Past credits elsewhere include the role of Lord Chamberlain with the Ballard Madrigals of 2007 and 2008. He is currently the Sound Engineer for the Theater Arts Department.

Mo Stucker (Stage Manager), LaGrange, KY, is a senior Theatre Arts major. She recently served as Stage Manager for Atomic Bombers and The Flu Season, Lighting Operator for How Orisanmi Chose His Head, and Wardrobe Crew for Measure for Measure. Past credits elsewhere include Stage Management Intern for Much Ado about Nothing, Stage Hand for Saturday in the Park, and Production Assistant for Measure for Measure, all at Kentucky Shakespeare, and Electrician for The Lion in Winter at Actor’s Choice.

Janine D. Hogan (Assistant Stage Manager), Louisville, KY, is a sophomore Theatre Arts major. This is her debut production at UofL. Past credits include Carpenter for Little Women at Northern Kentucky University.

Lauren Schoenbaechler (Assistant Stage Manager), Louisville, KY, is a junior Theatre Arts major. Previous productions at UofL include Chorus in Atomic Bombers and Stage Manager for ‘Dentity Crisis (Studio Theatre).

This production is dedicated to my Sistah Warrior Glenda Dickerson‬

Glenda Dickerson (February 9, 1945 – January 12, 2012) was an iconic director, folklorist, adaptor, writer, choreographer, actor, black theatre organizer, and educator. In 1971, she received an Emmy nomination and in 1972 a Peabody Award. She held the distinction of being the second African-American woman to have directed on Broadway. Additionally, she directed the premiere of this play in 1988 and provided dramaturgical advice to the playwright.

Production Staff

Assistant Director: Clyde Tyrone Harper
Stage Manager: Mo Stucker
Assistant Stage Managers: Janine Hogan, Lauren Schoenbaechler

Choreographer: Tia L. Davis

Technical Director: Garry Brown
Technical Production Supervisor: Charles Nasby
Scenic Construction: Amos Dreisbach, Patrick First, Michelle Gentry, Janine Hogan, Collin Sage, Kathryn Spivey, Derek Wahle, TA 240 Stagecraft I
Production Buyer: Robert McCracken

Costume Shop Manager: Melissa Shepherd
Assistant Costume Designer: Frances Lewis
Wardrobe Master: James Coomer
Costume Buyer: James Thompson
Costume Construction: James Coomer, Amy Davis, Jody Ann Henry, Jennifer Siow, James Thompson, Gina Vito
Wardrobe Crew: Ashley McKenzie, Anna Neikirk, Sabrina Spalding

Properties Manager: Megan Ward
Properties Crew: Grace Bors, Brady Carnahan, Westley Yunker

Master Electricians: Lauren Camargo, Mo Stucker
Lighting Operator: Faith Trow
Lighting Crew: TA 349 Stage Lighting

Sound Engineer: Tommy Neville
Sound Operator: Natasha Alvarez

Box Office Manager: Melanie Henry
Box Office Staff: Richard Ribuffo, Ashley Smith, Travis Stolp, Lauren Street
House Manager: Briana Hyman

Acknowledgments: Hank Bullitt, Clyde Tyrone Harper, Madam Harlina Churn-Diallo, Northern Kentucky University Department of Theatre & Dance, Kyle Layman, Jeffrey Shearer, St. Louis Black Rep, Robert Van Dillon, Westley Schafer, Sue Hlavinka, Troy T. Bell

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