TimeLine Theatre Company presents stories inspired by history that connect with today’s social and political issues. Our collaborative organization produces provocative theatre and educational programs that engage, entertain and enlighten.

A savvy and growing company, where more and more Chicagoans have come, with reason, to trust the power, truth and integrity of the work.  – Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune


From the moment in 1997 that six founders each pitched in $50 to launch this company, TimeLine has worked to become one of Chicago’s leading cultural institutions by creating theatre that is more than just a few hours in a seat. Our team of Company Members works collaboratively to present riveting stories that link our past, present, and future—exploring today’s social and political issues through the lens of the past and inspiring ourselves to re-imagine tomorrow. And the TimeLine family extends much further, including Associate Artists and welcoming other emerging and established artists to contribute to the company’s work.

The TimeLine experience extends well beyond the stage, encompassing meticulously researched and interactive lobby experiences, opportunities to discuss the show with artists, ways to take action on whatever the art inspires, and more. It is a mission unique in Chicago, and beyond.

Through our first 24 seasons, TimeLine has presented 82 productions, including 10 world premieres and 38 Chicago premieres, and launched the Living History Education Program, now in its 15th year of bringing the company’s mission to life for students in Chicago Public Schools. Since 2008, we have produced using Actors’ Equity Association contracts.

Our work has been recognized in Chicago and beyond: TimeLine received the prestigious 2016 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions and has been named “Company of the Year” in The Wall Street Journal (2010), one of the American Theatre Wing’s top 10 emerging professional theatre companies nationwide (2011) and Chicago magazine’s “Best Theatre” in the city (2011). And we have been honored with 58 Jeff Awards, including an award for Outstanding Production 11 times.

We work to match artistic excellence with sophisticated business management, and these efforts also have been recognized. TimeLine was the first arts organization to receive the Alford-Axelson Award for Nonprofit Managerial Excellence of a small company, and we have received the Association for Strategic Planning’s Richard Goodman Strategic Planning Award in the Non-Profit category.


Founded in 2006, the Living History Education Program brings TimeLine’s mission to Chicago Public Schools, working with students on creative exercises related to historically inspired stories on TimeLine’s stage and elsewhere in literature. During arts integration residencies of six to 13 sessions, students explore connections between history, art and their own lives, developing critical thinking and communication skills. Since its inception, more than 8,400 students have actively explored history through Living History.

And in 2018, Living History launched a new program, TimeLine South—a unique arts program that provides teens a safe space for self-expression, creativity, and ensemble building on the south side of Chicago. Offered free of charge for six weeks during the summer, TimeLine South promotes leadership in the arts and teaches teens that theatre can also be a vehicle for social justice.

TimeLine is led by Artistic Director PJ Powers, Executive Director Mica Cole, and Board President John Sterling.

We are a proud member of the League of Chicago Theatres; Choose Chicago; Theatre Communications Group; Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce; Chicago Cultural Alliance; Chicago Green Theatre Alliance; Business Partners, The Chamber for Uptown; and Chicago’s Belmont Theater District.