Mercy Street Theatre Company
is a not-for-profit nomadic ensemble of play-makers based in Chicago. 



Four plays based on poems from "Beastiary USA,"
a posthumously published collection by Anne Sexton.


Written by Shannon Pritchard
Directed by Sophie Blumberg

Ellenor Riley-Condit
Taryn Wood


Written by EJC Calvert*
Directed by Fracisco Lopez*

Kat Wilson
Eric Duhon
Rolo Rodriguez


Written by Rachel DuBose*
Directed by Sonja Lynn Mata*

Darren Patin
Claire Bauman


Written by Ian Michael James*
Directed by Will Quam

Casey Morris
Annabel Steven
Gaby FeBland

* Denotes Mercy Street Resident

Welcome to season 3


December 8-11, 2016

Santa Claus has quit his job, run away, and is living under a bridge in suburban America. His best friend is Laura, a young trans woman working to gain the acceptance of her Mother and Father, who always ruin everything. Laura and Santa encounter singing trees, collectivist elves, and adulthood in their quest to find the thing between selfish and selfless.

A moving and madcap adventure by poet and resident playwright Dakota Parobek returns to Mercy Street in this encore production, staged as a classic holiday radio play.


Spring 2017

The Beacon Series is Mercy Street's direct line to the bold new work of our resident playwrights. Every year, we'll present a smorgasbord of fresh plays in intimate readings and workshop productions. Join us for our first season of Beacon plays - five stories that examine the balance of power between divided families, friends, lovers, and regimes.


Summer 2016

After learning of her family's murder by the local cartel leader, Luz Estrada volunteers for her town's long-vacant position of sheriff. With her new authority, she enlists the citizens of her town to fight a war against the drug lord that destroyed everything they held dear.

Mercy Street is proud to present the world premiere of resident playwright Dusty Wilson's modern-day adaptation of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, set in the cartel wars of Northern Mexico.



Thanks to the generosity of our audiences, in our first 12 MONTHS, our company produced 4 WORLD PREMIERE PRODUCTIONS, which supported the work of over 60 LOCAL ARTISTS.

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to our humble non-profit theatre. Your support allows us to bolster the work of new Chicago playwrights and continue our quest to cultivate unity and affect change through storytelling.




His awful skin
stretched out by some tradesman
is like my skin, here between my fingers,
a kind of webbing, a kind of frog.
Surely when first born my face was this tiny
and before I was born surely I could fly.
Not well, mind you, only a veil of skin

from my arms to my waist.
I flew at night, too. Not to be seen
for if I were I'd be taken down.
In August perhaps as the trees rose to the stars

I have flown from leaf to leaf in the thick dark.
If you had caught me with your flashlight
you would have seen a pink corpse with wings,  
out, out, from her mother's belly, all furry
and hoarse skimming over the houses, the armies.
That's why the dogs of your house sniff me.
They know I'm something to be caught
somewhere in the cemetery hanging upside down
like a misshapen udder.


Little oily fuzzbear,
wearing your wool full of wood,
Mr. Ba-Ba, you mellow man,
you grease ball of thistles,
you yes sir, yes sir three bags full,
have been the work of the men of my life
for all of my life and the mention of you
turns my hands into green money. No longer.

Now the sheep in Australia and Cape Town
are cheaper and boss the world-wide market.
May they turn sour. May many mean things
happen upon them, no shepherds, no dogs,
a blight of the skin, a mange of the wool,
and they will die eating foreign money,
choking on its green alphabet.


Roach, foulest of creatures,
who attacks with yellow teeth
and an army of cousins big as shoes,
you are lumps of coal that are mechanized
and when I turn on the light you scuttle
into the corners and there is this hiss upon the land.
Yet I know you are only the common angel
turned into, by way of enchantment, the ugliest.
Your uncle was made into an apple.
Your aunt was made into a Siamese cat,
all the rest were made into butterflies
but because you lied to God outrightly-

told him that all things on earth were in order-
He turned his wrath upon you and said,
I will make you the most loathsome,
I will make you into God's lie,
and never will a little girl fondle you

or hold your dark wings cupped in her palm.

But that was not true. Once in New Orleans
with a group of students a roach fled across

the floor and I shrieked and she picked it up
in her hands and held it from my fear for one hour.
And held it like a diamond ring that should not escape.
These days even the devil is getting overturned
and held up to the light like a glass of water.


A red-hot needle
hangs out of him, he steers by it
as if it were a rudder, he
would get in the house any way he could
and then he would bounce from window
to ceiling, buzzing and looking for you.
Do not sleep for he is there wrapped in the curtain.
Do not sleep for he is there under the shelf.

Do not sleep for he wants to sew up your skin,
he want to leap into your body like a hammer
with a nail, do not sleep he wants to get into
your nose and make a transplant, he wants do not
sleep he wants to bury your fur and make
a nest of knives, he wants to slide under your
fingernail and push in a splinter, do not sleep
he wants to climb out of the toilet when you sit on it
and make a home in the embarrassed hair do not sleep
he wants you to walk into him as into a dark fire.

SHANNON PRITCHARD (Playwright, Bat) has written several plays, including Kin & KindTraces, Practice Babies, andThe County Hell. They’ve been produced and developed by Jackalope Theatre, TimeLine, Chicago Dramatists and Something Marvelous Theatre. Her short plays have been performed at A Red Orchid Theater, The Second City, Chicago Dramatists, and Playwrights Horizons Theater School. She is a two-time Eugene O’Neil Playwrighting Conference semi-finalist (2014 & 2015), a Humanitas nominee, and has received commissions from Next Theatre and the DePaul Theatre School. Shannon is a founding member of the Accidental Shakespeare Company and a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and Northwestern University’s MFA in Writing for the Screen + Stage.

SOPHIE BLUMBERG (Director, Bat) is thrilled to be working with Mercy Street!  Sophie is a Chicago based Director and Dramaturg.  Regional Theatre Credits: Director for Don't Leave Me Here Okay?The Q&A, Elsewhere, and The Rulers of All Worlds: A [Cos]Play at Actors Theatre of Louisville with the Apprentice/Intern Company. Assistant Director for The Undertaking with The Civilians, Out of the Mouths of Babes at the Cherry Lane Theatre, Another Word for Beauty at the Goodman, The Roommate, I Promised Myself To Live Faster, The Brothers Size, A Christmas Carol, The Last Five Years, and Love's Labour's Lost at Actor's Theatre of Louisville. Dramaturg for Objects in the Mirror and The Amateurs at the Goodman Theatre for New Stages 2015. Assistant Dramaturg: Smokefall, The Upstairs Concierge, Feathers and Teeth, and Buzzer at the Goodman Theatre. Chicago Theatre: Director at Chicago Dramatists, Chicago Writers Bloc, First Floor Theatre, Pride Films and Plays, Women's Theatre Alliance, Fury Theatre, Vienna Juvenile, and Cold Basement Dramatics, where she served as artistic director for two seasons. She is a founder and current ensemble member with devised theatre project The Electric Brain. Blumberg received her B.A from Kenyon College and completed the Directing Internship at Actors Theatre of Louisville in the 2014/2015 Season.

E.J.C. CALVERT (Playwright, Sheep) is from St. Louis, Missouri. Recent productions include Happy 3rd Birthday Siobhan (First Laugh Festival, Piccolo Theatre), Fast in Fire (Theatre HAN, Theatre for the New City), Sarazad and the Monster-King (The TRUF, Canal Park Playhouse), Calamity Jane Battles the Horrible Hoopsnakes (Lookingglass Theatre), Testify! (Audience Favorite Award, Roy Arias Studios), The Bear (A Tragedy) (Winner of the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Festival, 2010), Cadaver Synod (The Brecht Forum). Most recently, she developed and performed the shadow puppet play The Infinity Carrot with the Meowsner Players at the Piccolo Theatre in Evanston, IL. Publications include Calamity with YouthPlays LLC, The Bear (A Tragedy) in Samuel French’s Off-Off Broadway Festival Plays 35th Series, and A Dinner Party Goes Awry in the 31 Plays in 31 Days Project anthology. E. J. C. holds an MFA in Playwriting from the New School for Drama.

FRANCISCO LOPEZ JR. (Director, Sheep) is an actor/ singer originally from San Antonio, Texas. Favorite credits include: In the Heights (Porchlight Music Theatre), Planted (Rogue Elephant Productions), Dead Man Walking (Piven Theatre), Mutt (Stage Left and Red Tape Theatre), Letters Home (Griffin Theatre Company); Waking Up (Greyman Theatre Company); and Cabaret (Summer Stock Austin). He holds a BFA in Theatre Performance from Baylor University.

RACHEL DUBOSE (Playwright, Cockroach) returned to the Chicago area by way of Atlanta, GA. After finishing her undergraduate career at Spelman College, Rachel went on to work with NinaHoliday Productions and BET. She is the author of Rotpeter, a devised adaptation of Franz Kafka's "A Report to an Academy," developed at Mercy Street. Some of her work, Eve Within and Alkie's Anonymous have received stage readings at Spelman with the latter being showcased at The Alliance Theatre during the Spelman Salon. Most recently, Lonely Hearts participated in The Fade 2 Black Festival in Houston, TX. Rachel holds a Master of Fine Arts in Writing for the Screen and Stage from Northwestern University.

SONJA LYNN MATA (Director, Cockroach) graduated with a BFA in Theater Performance from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. She also completed the Professional Training Program at Dell'Arte International School of Physical Theatre in Blue Lake, California. She has also studied and performed with the National Theater and Dance Company of Ghana in their nations capital, Accra. Sonja is a proud ensemble member of Mercy Street and Theater Unspeakable. Currently Sonja is working with Claire and (re)discover theatre in devising an evening of One Minute Dances.  This is her directing debut. She thanks her playwright, Rachel DuBose, for believing that every roach is a jewel in disguise. 

IAN MICHAEL JAMES (Playwright, Hornet) is an actor, playwright, and dramaturg living and learning in Chicago. Ian graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a BA in Theater (Concentration - Acting) and a Minor in Playwriting. As an actor, Ian appeared in ALL MY SONS (as George), THE ARSONISTS (as Beidermann), A THOUSAND CLOWNS (as Nick) and Cass Rose's DICTIONARY PROJECT, VOL. II. Ian's dramaturgy credits include THE RISE AND FALL OF LITTLE VOICE (No Stakes Theater Project), ROTPETER (Mercy Street Theatre Company), TRAVESTIES (asst., Remy Bumppo) and HAIRSPRAY (Columbia College Chicago). Ian has had several plays developed and produced as a part of Columbia’s Fresh Ink and Manifest Performance Festivals ('13, '14). Ian is the Resident Dramaturg for No Stakes Theater Project.

WILL QUAM (Director, Hornet) is a director, teaching artist, and sound designer. Recent directing credits:Best Practices New Hires, Slippers, World War C (Golden Mountain); Revels, Thus Die I (Two Pence Theatre Company); Suessical: A Tragedy (Valentine's Play Festival). Children's theatre credits include Philip Dawkins' Einstein's Brains, Biff and Otis, Skokie Detective Charter School(Northlight Theatre); The Decameron (Mudlark Theatre Company). Recent assisting credits include Calamity West's Rolling (Jackalope Theatre Company) and No Candy (NYC, Signature Theatre/Roundabout Theatre). He has sound designed for Jackalope Theatre Company, Rhinofest, the Chicago Musical Theatre Festival and many others. Will is a graduate of Kenyon College and a proud Minnesotan.


Artistic Director Julia Rohed
Producing Director Danielle Stack
Associate Artistic Director Jake Fruend
Casting Director Kate Grudichak


Jerico Bleu
E.J.C. Calvert

Rachel DuBose
Michael Evans
Jake Fruend
Kate Grudichak
Nellsyn Hill
Ian Michael James

Slick Jorgensen
Francisco Lopez
Sonja Lynn Mata
Alaina Moore
Dakota Parobek
Julia Rohed
Danielle Stack
Dusty Wilson
Clint Worthington

Board of Directors

Danielle Stack
Julia Rohed
Karrie Dowling
Lydia Gordon
Andrew Saenz