World Premiere

August 3 - September 25, 2022

Based on the true story of Leone Baxter and Clem Whitaker, who formed the first political consulting firm in U.S. history, Campaigns, Inc. is a hysterical and jaw-dropping inside look at the underbelly of politics through the lens of two of the undeniable founders of “fake news.”

IT IS 1934, and famous novelist Upton Sinclair is all but guaranteed to become the first Democratic governor of the state of California—until a young, unknown pair of consultants from the shadows of the challenger’s campaign attempt to take him down. As Frank Merriam and Sinclair battle it out in the spotlight—seeking endorsements from the likes of Charlie Chaplin and FDR—Baxter and Whitaker work behind-the-scenes to methodically construct one of the most spectacular, unbelievable, and star-studded smear campaigns ever.

This world premiere play was 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. Campaigns, Inc. is the third play developed through the Collective to receive a full production, following Brett Neveu’s To Catch a Fish (2018) and Tyla Abercrumbie’s Relentless (TimeLine and Goodman Theatre, 2022). Campaigns, Inc. received its first public reading as part of our inaugural First Draft Playwrights Collective Festival in 2018.

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Production Team


* Member of Actors Equity Association

# Member of United Scenic Artists

~ Member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society

+ TimeLine Company Member

^ TimeLine Associate Artist

§ TimeLine Playwrights Collective


  • Chicago Tribune

    “With a savvy sense of the moment, TimeLine has come up with a snappy, screwball, slightly salacious comedy about an intriguing piece of American political history: the blistering 1934 fight for the California governorship between the Republican Frank Merriam and the renowned socialist author Upton Sinclair…it’s great to see Bowling’s snappy style of direction in TimeLine’s long-standing intimate home… And, of course, it’s great to watch a made-in-Chicago world premiere of this quality.”

    —Chris Jones

  • Chicago Reader

    “…as a comic guidebook to how propaganda works, and how even the best candidate on paper can be demolished in three dimensions, it’s a peach. Allan has a sharp ear for ironic aphorisms—”They’re not lies. They’re different versions of the truth,” being one pungent example… Bowling, always a dab hand at midcentury pieces, brings the same sensibility and energy to a play that’s obviously paying homage to the films of the era. The ensemble is tight, with moments of gritty poignancy

    —Kerry Reid

  • Picture This Post

    “History Comes Alive and Chemistry Crackles at TimeLine Theatre…In this author’s opinion, director Nick Bowling could not have gathered a finer cast to bring this story to life. From the ensemble to the leads, not a note is out of place…Most critically, though, are Meredith’s Leone Baxter and Sardarov’s Clem Whitaker bringing all the chemistry you could ask for as the team behind the titular company. Whether cheering each other up, tearing each other down, or just passing a quiet moment together, the two consistently embody a complex, compelling relationship.”

    —Harold Jaffe

  • Buzz Center Stage

    CAMPAIGNS, INC is brilliantly written (Will Allan), masterfully directed (Nick Bowling), and splendidly acted by the entire cast. In such an elaborate production, I think the crew deserves special notice. Scenic, lighting, and projections designers Sydney Lynne, Jared Gooding, and Anthony Churchill skillfully weave the multimedia mélange together. Sally Dolembo, U.S.A., Katie Cordts and Megan E. Pirtle design convincing period costumes, wigs, and hair. Sound designers Forrest Gregor and Andrew Hansen, dialect director Sammi Grant and dramaturg Maren Robinson replicate the ‘30’s with crackling radio broadcasts and vintage jokes…. CAMPAIGNS, INC is perfect for 2022, letting us scrutinize our preposterous times while providing comic relief from the lunacy as well.”

    —Sarz Maxwell

  • Chicago Theatre Review

    “TimeLine company member Will Allan has written a highly entertaining, fast-paced comedyOne cannot imagine a more perfectly-cast production. Spunky, eloquent Tyler Meredith is terrific as Leone Baxter, and stage and TV actor (Otis on “Chicago Fire”), Yuriy Sardarov, with all the drive and dynamics of a typical film noir newsman, is perfect in the role of Clem Whitaker…Talented director Nick Bowling has staged and guided his production with the breakneck pacing of a screwball comedy and an emphasis on the snappy dialogue of those popular b&w classic films of the 1930’s.”

    —Colin Douglas

  • NewCity Stage

    It’s a spot-on, if somewhat on-the-nose historical tale of a lesser-known but prophetic event. Lightening things up is the screwball-comedy romance between Baxter and Whittaker, ignited by banter rather than chemistry...Director Nick Bowling and his team have put together a pitch-perfect production, especially in the use of video (courtesy of projections designer Anthony Churchill) that captures the rising influence of Hollywood glamor and the newsreel as precursor to television news, especially Fox News. It’s a device that sets the tone and advances the story without overshadowing the terrific cast at work here.”

    —Brian Hieggelke

  • Around the Town

    “TimeLine is back home at 615 Wellington ( no longer the church) and the director of this roughly two hour political comedy, Nick Bowling is at his best. They have always used the small stage to its full advantage and once again Sydney Lynne has designed a set that is both movie theater, Hollywood set, Governor’s office and even the President’s home. All of this on a stage that is about as intimate as one can get. When you enter the theater and take your seat, you will see a huge screen with ld movies on it. Yes, some newsreels, but mostly stars of the era such as Clark Gable, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin and of course little Shirley Temple. It is like taking a step back into time…a giant step for some and an even more gigantic leap for others…Those who attend Timeline’s productions know that they are as accurate as a theater company can get and detail everything to perfection.”

    —Alan Bresloff

Discussions & Events

  • CAMPAIGNS, INC.: Post-Show Discussions
    Various Dates

    Join us for informal post-show discussions with members of the production team and cast.

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  • Distanced Performances of CAMPAIGNS, INC.
    Sunday, August 21 & Thursday, September 1

    These performances have a capacity cap and seating chart.

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  • CAMPAIGNS, INC.: PRE-Show Discussions
    August 24 & September 4

    Join us for an informal sneak peek into this production with members of the production team.

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  • CAMPAIGNS, INC.: Company Member Discussion
    Sunday, August 28 at 4pm

    Join us for an informal chat with TimeLine’s Company Members after today’s performance.

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  • Open Captioned Performances of CAMPAIGNS, INC.
    September 9 at 8pm & September 10 at 4pm

    Featuring a text display of words and sounds heard during the performance.

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  • CAMPAIGNS, INC.: Sunday Scholars
    Sunday, September 11 at 4pm

    This one-hour post-show panel discussion features experts on the themes of the play.

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  • Audio Described Performance of CAMPAIGNS, INC.
    September 16 at 8pm

    Featuring audio description of visuals during the performance via individual headset.

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  • How to Vote for the Best Candidate for YOU
    September 17 at 11am CDT

    A free virtual discussion and event perfect for election season

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