Chicago Premiere

May 8, 2022 - Jun 18, 2022

This story of the first Chinese woman to arrive in the United States unearths hidden history with humor and insight, asking us to explore the way we consider both ourselves and others.

Brought to the United States at age 14 from China in 1834 by enterprising American merchants, Afong Moy is put on display so the American public can get its first view of an authentic “Chinese Lady.” Over the course of 55 years, she performs an ethnicity that both defines and challenges her own views of herself, as she witnesses stunning transformations in the American identity. As these dual truths become irreconcilable, Afong must reckon with herself and the history of her new home with startling discovery and personal revelations.

During this piercing and darkly poetic portrait of America as seen through the eyes of a young Chinese woman, “this quiet play steadily deepens in complexity,” wrote The New York Times. “By the end of Mr. Suh’s extraordinary play, we look at Afong and see whole centuries of American history. She’s no longer the Chinese lady. She is us.”


The Chinese Lady was available for remote viewing on demand. Access ended on Sunday, June 19 at 11:59pm.
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World Premiere

January 21 - February 26, 2022

Relentless is now playing at Goodman Theatre! Learn more …

In this world premiere play developed through TimeLine’s Playwrights Collective, Tyla Abercrumbie weaves a mother’s past with her daughters’ present in a centuries-spanning tale of family, legacy, and progress.

Set in the Black Victorian era, Relentless looks at the deep personal secrets we keep to protect the ones we love most. The year is 1919. After the death of their mother, two sisters come home to Philadelphia to settle her estate. Annelle is a happy socialite desperate to return to the safe illusion of a perfect life with her husband in Boston. Janet is a single, professional nurse, determined to change history and propel Black women to a place of prominence and respect. After discovering diaries left by their late mother, they find themselves confronted with a woman they never really knew, exposing buried truths from the past that are chillingly, explosively Relentless.

Relentless is the second play developed through TimeLine’s Playwrights Collective to receive a full production. The play received its first public reading as part of our inaugural First Draft Playwrights Collective Festival in December 2018.


PLEASE NOTE: Proof of vaccination and mask-wearing are required to attend.

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February 12 - March 12, 2020 (theatrical) + April 1 - 19, 2020 (remote viewing)

Kill Move Paradise closed its theatrical performance run on March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, due to the incredible cooperation of artist unions, Dramatists Play Service, and playwright James Ijames, we can now offer a limited number of opportunities to see the show from the comfort of your home, with a week to watch at a time convenient for you, by streaming a previously filmed performance, edited to provide close-ups and full coverage of the staging. If you are a TimeLine Subscriber, you can use your FlexPass admissions as usual for remote viewing. A limited number of remote viewing tickets are also available for the general public.

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Described by playwright James Ijames as “an expressionistic buzz saw through the contemporary myth that ‘all lives matter,’” this The New York Times Critic’s Pick play is a powerful and provocative reflection on recent events, illustrating the possibilities of collective transformation and radical acts of joy.

Torn from the world they know without warning, Isa, Daz, Grif, and Tiny discover themselves stuck in a nebulous waiting room in the afterlife. While balancing the reality of their past and the uncertainty of their future, their souls try to find peace from senseless action and hope in the life they left behind.

Inspired by the ever-growing list of slain unarmed black men and women, Kill Move Paradise is a portrait of those lost—not as statistics, but as heroes who deserve to be seen for the splendid beings they are.

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Chicago Premiere

November 6, 2019 - January 12, 2020

Named one of the “100 plays of the century” by the Royal National Theatre, Githa Sowerby’s rarely produced family drama is a smart and absorbing twist on a woman’s “place” in a male dominated society.

In the industrial north of England in 1912, the patriarch of the Rutherford family has spent decades building a respected glass works company to pass on to his children, without any say from them. Caught between passion, purpose, and expectation, John, Richard, and Janet struggle to break free from an oppressive and narrow-minded father dead set on writing their stories himself. Less entangled by these family expectations and with ambitions to give her son the life he deserves, John’s young wife Mary is determined to upend the cycle, whatever it takes.

Playing on the conventions of the period with wit and creative edge, Rutherford and Son is a play ahead of its time, asking us to question if our “place” in life should be anything but what we ourselves determine it to be.

The estimated run time is 2 hours and 10 minutes, including one intermission.
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Chicago Premiere

April 24 - June 29, 2019

A captivating tale about the intersection of family, responsibility, and progress at the height of the Civil Rights Movement.

Bowzie Brandon, his wife Evelyn, and their best friends Tony and Sally-Mae see happiness on the horizon when Bowzie gets a scholarship to attend college and improve his family’s life. However, when the opportunity to become a Freedom Rider arises, Bowzie leaves his obligations as a husband and friend behind to join the fight against racism in the Deep South. TOO HEAVY FOR YOUR POCKET is a powerful look at the tenuous balance between security and risk, the bonds of love and friendship, and the personal cost of progress.

Playwright Jiréh Breon Holder was recently named one of “Tomorrow’s Marquee Names, Now in the Making” by The New York Times. Previously seen at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre and in an extended Off Broadway run at Roundabout Theatre, TOO HEAVY FOR YOUR POCKET was the recipient of the 2017 Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award. Hailed “an exceptional work, one that will dive-bomb into your head and your heart” (Talkin’ Broadway) and a story “that examines life on both the margins and at the epicenter of historic change” (Stage Left), this stunning play “brings the early civil rights movement up close and personal” (Deadline).

Runs approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes, including one intermission

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Chicago Premiere

January 9 - March 17, 2019

A hopeful and moving story of loss, love, and the power of faith.

At the dawn of the millennium in a darkened church in northern Uganda, the daughter of American missionaries and a local teenage girl prepare to exchange vows in a secret, makeshift wedding ceremony. But when the brutality of the war zone around them encroaches on their fragile union, the two are faced with a reality they cannot escape. Confronting the religious and cultural roots of intolerance, Cardboard Piano explores violence and its aftermath, as well as the human capacity for hatred, forgiveness, and love.

Cardboard Piano premiered as a part of the Humana Festival of New American Plays in March 2016. The Louisville Courier-Journal called it “haunting,” writing that “this promising playwright’s story suggests a power in facing the damage done and picking up the pieces to inform each step forward.”


Cardboard Piano includes incidents of stage violence, gunshots, water-based theatrical haze, and flashing lights. If you would like more information, please call the Box Office.

 
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August 22 - December 16, 2018

A powerful and poignant drama about two sisters trying to reconnect after years of separation brought on by the rise of the Nazis.

In New York City in 1946, a daughter and her father, Rose and Mordechai Weiss, have adapted to life as new Americans after escaping Poland before World War II. In their escape, they were forced to leave behind Rose’s sister Lusia and her mother. When Rose and Lusia are reunited, Rose tries to engage with an older sister who, having survived the horrors of war overseas, now seems a stranger. And Lusia—haunted by vivid memories of her past—struggles to connect with a family she barely knows. A Shayna Maidel explores family, faith, and forgiveness inthe pursuit of a better future.

Written in 1984, A SHAYNA MAIDEL was widely produced by America’s leading regional theaters and became a long-running success Off Broadway from 1987 to 1989. The New York Times called the play “a tribute to the sustaining power of family,” the Hartford Journal Inquirer hailed it as “an emotional powerhouse,” and the Atlanta Constitution raved that “anyone who sees it will not soon forget it.” The Chicago Reader underscored the play’s fit with TimeLine’s mission, describing it in a 2002 review as “history as intimate as a snapshot.”

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World Premiere

April 25 – July 1, 2018

“Everything in the world, that all just rushing right past you, like you a signpost stuck straight in the ground.”

Inspired by true events, this compelling new play exposes a flawed law enforcement operation that walks the line between good intentions and deceit, testing the bonds of a family and community. In a low-income, residential neighborhood of Milwaukee, Terry Kilbourn has just begun a new job passing out flyers for a discount warehouse. When his bosses start asking more of him, the stakes rise quickly and his loved ones begin to question what is really going on. This play’s vibrant mix of family, romance, and danger swirls with mysteries about who to trust and what to believe. And its story confronts society’s fluid definition of justice—and the truth about who benefits from it.

This world premiere is the first play to be produced that was written and developed through TimeLine’s Playwrights Collective, launched in 2013 to support Chicago-based playwrights in residence and create new work centered on TimeLine’s mission.

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Chicago Premiere

August 16 – December 3, 2017

“If you stick round long enough, the same ideas come round again and again. Wearing a different coloured tie.”

A portrait of a dynamic and provocative woman—the symbol of a nation—as she weathers decades of history and political strife. Every Tuesday afternoon for more than 60 years, Queen Elizabeth II has met with her Prime Ministers in a private audience, a gesture of unity between government and Crown. Through moments of tension, negotiation, war, and unrest, these conversations with political leaders from Winston Churchill to Harold Wilson to Margaret Thatcher have remained a constant across the years. Playwright Peter Morgan re-imagines these meetings, giving us a glimpse at the queen’s role in guiding the circumstances that have shaped Great Britain, and a window into the mystery, compassion and humor of the woman behind the iconic crown.

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Midwest Premiere

April 26 – July 23, 2017

“We all got sadness. But I like to turn mine into fire, baby. What you do with yours?”

A dynamic and jazz-infused drama about what’s at stake when building a better future. In Detroit’s Black Bottom neighborhood in 1949, a gifted trumpeter and troubled owner of the Paradise jazz nightclub is contemplating a buyout offer for the city’s urban renewal plan. As the inhabitants of the famed but faltering jazz club ponder their options and dream of a better life, they must decide whether to fight to save what’s theirs or risk it all for a chance at redemption.

This latest from Dominique Morisseau’s widely acclaimed cycle of plays about Detroit once again proves why she’s one of America’s most urgent playwrights.

PLEASE NOTE: Peanuts will be consumed onstage during the show, and the production includes scenes of violence, multiple gunshots and strong language, as well as the use of e-cigarettes and haze.

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Chicago Premiere

Jan 11, 2017 - Apr 9, 2017

TimeLine presents a new and rare staging of this exquisite, internationally acclaimed play about love, math, and how the past and future connect. In 1913, a clerk in rural India named Srinivasa Ramanujan sends a letter to famed mathematician G.H. Hardy, filled with astonishing mathematical theorems. In the present, a math professor and a businessman fall in love. Told in a mesmerizing whirlwind of vignettes spanning history and time, A Disappearing Number is a love letter to numbers, blending the beauty of everyday relationships with the mysticism of the cosmos.

Winner of the 2007 Critics’ Circle Theatre, Evening Standard, and Laurence Olivier awards for Best New Play.

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U.S. Premiere

September 21 - December 18, 2016

“Do you think girls are smart enough to run a country?” … “Girls are smart. They just aren’t legal.”

Katherine Parr has just been crowned the sixth wife of King Henry VIII. In the process, she’s started an illicit affair, inherited three children, and begun her own political career. Now’s not the time to lose her head. The Last Wife is a bold and contemporary return to Tudor England that confronts issues as relevant today as they were 500 years ago.

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Chicago Premiere

May 3 - July 31, 2016

In June 1989, as the Chinese government cracked down on a pro-democracy rally in Tiananmen Square, the iconic image of one man standing alone in front of a military tank captivated the world. Twenty years later, a photojournalist searches for the truth about that mysterious “Tank Man” in an epic, global adventure that explores the complex relationship between twin superpowers China and the United States.

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The Price

August 27 - November 22, 2015

This classic play is about the legacy of the past and the price of life’s choices. In a New York brownstone marked for demolition, two estranged brothers meet to sort through and sell their late father’s belongings—a pile of relics and old furniture buried by a lifetime’s worth of family baggage. What follows is a poignant, intimate, and often heart-wrenching look at the ways we are liberated or trapped by those we love.

Inana

Chicago Premiere

May 6, 2015 - Jul 26, 2015

On the eve of the United States’ invasion of Baghdad in 2003, an Iraqi museum curator plots to save treasured antiquities from destruction—including the statue of ancient mother goddess Inana. Fleeing to London with his young, mysterious bride, he makes a life-altering deal to ensure the statue’s preservation. Against this background of international and personal intrigue, the couple’s poignant and beautiful love story opens a window of hope and healing.

The Apple Family Plays
That Hopey Changey Thing and Sorry

Chicago Premieres

Jan 13, 2015 - Apr 19, 2015

Richard Nelson’s celebrated series of four Apple Family Plays—first commissioned by The Public Theatre in New York where they premiered on the day they are set—explores politics, change, and family dynamics. TimeLine presents the Chicago debut of two of these remarkable works (the first and third in the series) on an alternating schedule.

Set in the American town of Rhinebeck, New York, That Hopey Changey Thing takes place as the polls close on the 2010 mid-term elections, and Sorry is set on the morning of the presidential election in 2012. Both explore how a family sorts through personal and political feelings of loss and confusion in the shadow of history as it is being made.

Chicago Premiere

Sep 23, 2014 - Dec 21, 2014

Acclaimed as a “rip-roaring, grit-your-teeth production” (Chicago Sun-Times), “a refreshingly political piece” (Chicago Tribune) and an “urgent, cinematic, and breathlessly intense … dose of thinking theater” (Stage and Cinema), this show is a political conspiracy thriller (based on true events) in the vein of House of Cards, Kill the Messenger and All the President’s Men.

Juno

Chicago Premiere

Apr 23, 2014 - Jul 27, 2014

Originally on Broadway in 1959, this timeless musical has never been seen in Chicago, until now!

During the Irish Civil War in the 1920s, the fearless matriarch of a destitute household holds her family together in the face of her husband’s carousing. With fortunes about to turn, the family strives to rise above the political and social unrest around them. This epic, humorous and heartbreaking tale of survival is told through honest and powerful anthems such as “I Wish It So,” “We’re Alive” and “On a Day Like This.”

The How and the Why

Jan 28, 2014 - Apr 6, 2014

From the writer/producer of television hits like House of Cards and In Treatment comes this smart and compelling new play about science, family, and survival of the fittest. Two women meet for the first time on the eve of a national conference. Both are brilliant evolutionary biologists who share a zeal for science and a bold, contrarian approach to their male-dominated field—even as one challenges the other with a radical new theory that may change the way people regard sex. As mysteries unfold about their relationship, the two scientists clash over differing views on evolution, feminism and generational divides in modern America.

The Normal Heart

Oct 26, 2013 - Dec 29, 2013

Originally premiered Off-Broadway in 1985, TimeLine’s production is the first Chicago staging of this landmark play that “blasts you like an open, overstoked furnace” (The New York Times) since its Tony-Award winning Broadway production in 2011. Set at the height of the public and private indifference to the AIDS plague in the early 1980s, this searing drama will feature acclaimed actor/director David Cromer in his return to the Chicago stage as a passionate activist leading the fight to awaken the world to the crisis. Along the way he, and the community he leads into the battle, must face the deeply held fears that led so many to remain silent for too long.

Concerning Strange Devices from the Distant West

Chicago Premiere

Jan 15, 2013 - Apr 14, 2013

This sexy, multi-faceted puzzle of a play travels from East to West and across time, exploring provocative themes in both epic scope and human scale. In the 1880s, a Victorian woman visiting Japan is fascinated by a new invention — the camera — that allows people to own images of distant lands they never dreamed they would be able to see. In modern-day Tokyo, a collector navigates shifting relationships in search of physical memories of the past. Along the way we gaze as if through a lens at the mysterious intersection of art and authenticity, where very little is what it appears to be.

Wasteland

World Premiere

Oct 12, 2012 - Dec 30, 2012

TimeLine’s latest world premiere follows extraordinary successes with new works like My Kind of Town, To Master the Artand Hannah and Martin. An American soldier, captured by the enemy in Vietnam and isolated in an underground cell, hears a voice from the other side of his prison wall. Thrust into each other’s lives, the two men are separated by solid ground, divergent backgrounds and opposite worldviews. But over time, they are drawn together as they battle dire conditions, loss of faith, and each other. This emotionally stirring new play affirms the extraordinary power of human connection to forge hope in even the darkest hours.

33 Variations

Chicago Premiere

Aug 24, 2012 - Oct 21, 2012

TimeLine’s 2012-13 season opener is an elegant waltz between past and present, fact and speculation, a mother and daughter, and art and life. One of classical music’s enduring riddles is why Ludwig van Beethoven devoted four years of his diminishing life writing 33 variations of a mediocre waltz. Two hundred years later, a modern-day music scholar is driven to solve the mystery even as her own health and relationship with her daughter crumbles.

The result is an extraordinary new American play — accompanied throughout by a live pianist playing the variations themselves — about passion, parenthood, and the moments of beauty that can transform a life.

My Kind of Town

World Premiere

May 1, 2012 - Jul 29, 2012

My Kind of Town puts a human face on the police torture scandal that has plagued Chicago for more than three decades. Veteran investigative journalist John Conroy covered the story, challenging public indifference to become one of the leading voices drawing attention to the charges. My Kind of Town is his passionate, groundbreaking new drama revolving around one imprisoned man’s fight for justice, inspired by the stories of numerous victims, police officers, prosecutors and families whose lives have been poisoned by the allegations. With interlocking storylines that humanize the play’s issues of corruption and responsibility, My Kind of Town sets the stage for a new conversation about today’s culture of law and order.

Enron

Chicago Premiere

Jan 17, 2012 - Apr 15, 2012

One of the most infamous scandals in financial history becomes a dynamic new theatrical event that was a sold-out sensation in London. Crafted as sprawling tragedy mixed with savage comedy, Enron follows a group of ambitious men and women through the breathtaking rush of greed and fraud that led to a legendary financial collapse. Along the way we gain disturbing insight into the backroom secrets of big business and confront a world where appearance has little relation to reality.

The Pitmen Painters

Chicago Premiere

Sep 6, 2011 - Dec 4, 2011

Heralded in London and on Broadway, this new play by the Tony Award- winning writer of Billy Elliot is based on a triumphant true story. A group of miners in Northern England taking an art appreciation class start experimenting with painting and soon build an astonishing body of work that makes them the unlikeliest of art world sensations. An arresting and hilarious salute to the power of individual expression and the collective spirit, The Pitmen Painters is a deeply moving and timely look at art, class and politics.