Returning to a favorite theatre space

Big day today for TimeLine. HUGE! We have just announced that The History Boys will be extended through September 27. The first show of our season, All My Sons, will be at Greenhouse Theater, in the former Victory Gardens space.

This is a huge undertaking for an organization our size. We only have 4 full-time staff members and while I am nervous, the feeling of excitement wins by a long shot. And for a person who communicates better with numbers, spreadsheets and charts, I don’t think I will ever be able to fully communicate my excitement even to PJ and the Company members. It seems to want to come out of my mouth in the high-pitched voice of a 5-year-old exclaiming, “It’s the coolest thing ever!”

I spent 15 years working for Victory Gardens Theater. 15 years literally running around the building at 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. I have not worked in that building for almost two years. There have been changes and upgrades made, but I still feel that I know every nook and cranny. I remember where you can plug in two coffee makers at the same time and not blow a fuse, where the light switch is in the basement and possibly how to remove the side panel on the air conditioner for the downstairs space and restart the thing.

The former Victory Gardens space holds such a large place in Chicago theatre history. So I’m thrilled that TimeLine has an opportunity to produce there. In the fall of 1992 I was hired as a joint employee of Body Politic Theatre and Victory Gardens Theater. I worked in the box office.  The Wild Men staring George Wendt and Peter Burns was playing in the Body Politic Theatre.  Dennis Zacek was in Roger Rueff’s Hospitality Suite in the Victory Gardens space.

The building at 2257 N. Lincoln itself has a great history. Check out Richard Christiansen’s A Theater Of Our Own to read about how the building that is now the Greenhouse Theater Center even came to have theatre spaces.

The shows I saw in the Victory Gardens space over the years are too many to count, as are the shows I have seen in the other three spaces in the building and the companies that produced those shows. I’m excited to be in the Greenhouse Theatre this fall with my friends from Remy Bumppo, Shattered Globe and Eclipse.

What I love about the former Victory Gardens space is its intimacy. You feel like you are right on stage. You never feel like you are in a theatre with 192 seats. There are only 7 rows! The last row is 20 feet from the stage. That feeling of watching a show in the old Victory Gardens space is the same thing I love about TimeLine. The feeling of being connected physically and emotionally to what is on the stage.

Countless nights I snuck into the back of the house to watch the final number in Jaye Stewart’s Get Ready. I could never grow tired of listening to John Steven Crowley’s voice. I’m sure I saw Michael, Margaret, Pat and Kate 20 times. I so vividly recall watching Sandy Shinner’s production of Joanna McClelland Glass’s Trying. I remember where I sat and I’m still kicking myself for seeing it late in the run and not being able to see it several more times before it went to New York. I would have been happy to sit in the theatre every night and watch Henry Godinez’s production of Nilo Cruz’s Anna in the Tropics. And like yesterday I remember the final performance of Joel Drake Johnson’s Before My Eyes. The summer of 2004 hanging out with the wonderfully talented and lovely cast of The Romance of Magno Rubio. And Julie Harris on that stage ….

Knock Me a Kiss. Bourbon at the Border. The End of the Tour. North Star. Free Man of Color. The Colored Museum. The list of memorable nights in that theatre goes on and on. I’m thrilled that TimeLine has the opportunity to produce All My Sons in that intimate storefront space. And from the e-mails that PJ and I received yesterday from TimeLine subscribers, they are just as excited that TimeLine has this opportunity as we are.

I think about walking into that space on the day that we will load in the set for All My Sons …  the first day of technical rehearsals … the first preview … and I get goose bumps.

Since we always like a little bit of historical context at TimeLine, a cool thing to note is that Body Politic produced All My Sons approximately 13 feet above the stage where our production will take place. There are some more interesting things about that which we will talk more about in a future blog post.

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  1. Joan McGrath

    Hi, Liz,

    You write vividly — and your excitement is contagious!

    I am eager to work with you; I’m understyding Kate in “All My Sons” and am thrilled to be involved with TimeLine.

    I had the opportunity to work with your mother in Galena in Ronn Toebaas’ production of “Women on Fire” and to meet your father. Small world!

    Looking forward to July,

    Best regards,


  2. Josiah

    All My Sons is a favorite play of mine. Miller is an American master, and I think it often gets lost amid the shadow of his more famous works.

    A good selection, and a good space!