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.

Use Your FlexPass


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 Reader

    January 25, 2019

    RECOMMENDED. “Cardboard Piano succeeds on multiple fronts. It’s a riveting story. … With each pivot in the intricate plot, Jung reveals a new perspective on both the individual characters and the lethal, institutionalized bigotry overpowering them. … There’s beauty in the ethereal, haunting hymn that closes Cardboard Piano, and perhaps the distant prospect of healing.”

    —Catey Sullivan

  • Chicago Tribune

    January 17, 2019

    A very carefully wrought play … Director Mechelle Moe’s production has a lot to like, not the least of which is a stunner of a set from Jeffrey D. Kmiec that constructs an entire sanctuary inside TimeLine’s space … It’s a beautiful piece of artistry, gorgeously lit by Brandon J. Wardell so that is reveals itself only gradually, morphing from a kind of war-zone hiding place to a place that might offer absolution, if the right kinds of truth and reconciliation occurs within its walls. Powerful acting moments are present, too; they’re mostly the work of actors who’ve not been at this theater before. … It’s a very gutsy performance.”

    —Chris Jones

  • Chicago Sun-Times

    January 17, 2019

    ★★★ “Love, hate, forgiveness are centerstage … The play’s first half leads to remarkable payoffs in the end.”

    —Kris Vire

  • Newcity Stage

    January 21, 2019

    “Hansol Jung’s emotionally rich drama, now making its Chicago premiere at TimeLine Theatre Company, is as delicate and priceless a work of theater as the titular object … What I’d dare to call the first “Must-See” show of 2019.

    —Ben Kaye

  • Chicago On Stage

    January 17, 2019

    The first great play of 2019 … As it did with Boy last year, Timeline Theatre has begun 2019 with a show that is powerful and provocative and memorable. I would not be surprised to find, next December, that it remains one of the brightest spots of Chicago theatre for the year.”

    —Karen Topham

  • Broadway World

    January 18, 2019

    “[Playwright Hansol] Jung’s utterly human, multidimensional characters allow her to find success … Throughout Cardboard Piano, she takes many small, emotionally rich moments and allows audiences to contemplate big themes without feeling as if we’re being taught a lesson.

    —Rachel Weinberg

  • Performink

    January 19, 2019

    “This play has beautiful moments of intimacy, singing, and (as the poster portrays) interracial love. It is honest, tragic, and raises many important questions without providing answers.

    —Josh Flanders

  • Stage and Cinema

    January 17, 2019

    “In a forceful staging by TimeLine Theatre, Cardboard Piano is an exercise in betterment over bitterness. Here is proof — if a play can indeed provide it — that, for what it’s worth, love wins out over time and rage.

    —Lawrence Bommer

  • Chicago Theatre Review

    January 18, 2019

    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. “Dynamic and gritty … These four actors work well together, seamlessly mining every ounce of emotion from their characters, while making this tale of trauma and its survivors a living, breathing moment from history.

    —Colin Douglas

  • Ada Grey Reviews for You

    January 31, 2019

    “I had so much love for the characters and really cared about how the story would turn out. … This show is really beautiful, heartbreaking, and amazingly acted. All the elements in this play were beautifully done.”

    —Ada Grey

  • Let's Play

    January 18, 2019

    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. “Powerful and thought-provoking … This in your face, explosive play is like being on a roller coaster that drops you right into the action. Moe hits upon all of the emotional and sensitive keys that will make each person in the audience walk away with a different perspective about who and what is right. Can we lose the ability to forgive even though we need forgiveness?”

    —Brenda and Rick McCain

  • Picture This Post

    January 17, 2019

    “There are some very strong performances in this production. [Playwright Hansol] Jung’s Act II gives the characters passionate moments to show their acting chops, and especially [Kai] Ealy, who is clearly up to the task. … For this writer, it is [Freedom] Martin’s portrayal of a wide-eyed and tortured child soldier in the first act that is totally arresting and for lovers of superb acting well worth putting Cardboard Piano on their calendars.

    —Amy Munice

  • Picks in Six

    January 18, 2019

    [A] gripping drama … [Hansol] Jung’s riveting dialogue in Cardboard Piano, born from a unique, informed and international perspective, with the inspired performances of an emerging group of talented actors, will certainly stay with you.

    —Ed Tracy

  • Playlist HQ

    January 18, 2019

    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. “Dramatic and exciting. The audience is on the edge of their seats… The cast is superb.”

    —Quinn Delaney

  • Rescripted

    January 21, 2019

    “A romance that reckons with historical pain … Cardboard Piano is a gut-wrenching exploration of what it means to love, to forgive, and to heal.”

    —Yasmin Mikhaiel

  • Around The Town Chicago

    January 28, 2019

    “This is a story that one can learn from, along with being highly entertained … You will find yourself caught in the web of intrigue.”

    —Alan Bresloff

Discussions & Events

  • MyLine Preview Pizza Party: CARDBOARD PIANO
    Thursday, January 10 at 6:45 pm

    Pizza, drinks and a special pre-show discussion before CARDBOARD PIANO.

    Read More
  • Opening Night Celebration: CARDBOARD PIANO
    Thursday, January 17, 2019 at 7:30pm

    Opening Night for this Chicago premiere, the third production of our 2018-19 Season.

    Read More
  • CARDBOARD PIANO: Company Member Discussion
    Sunday, February 10

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

    Read More
  • CARDBOARD PIANO: PRE-Show Discussion
    Various dates

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

    Read More
  • Open Captioned Performance of CARDBOARD PIANO
    Various Dates

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

    Read More
  • CARDBOARD PIANO: Sunday Scholars Series
    Sunday, February 24

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

    Read More
  • CARDBOARD PIANO: Post-Show Discussion
    Various dates

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

    Read More