Chicago Premiere

January 31 – March 24, 2024

Witness the powerful stories of 19 individuals fighting to overcome and transform America’s education and criminal justice systems.

THIS STRIKINGLY INTIMATE PIECE presents snapshots from a variety of real people, documenting their intersections with the American dream and the obstacles that work to block them from it. Utilizing verbatim dialogue pulled from more than 250 accounts from students, faculty, prisoners, activists, politicians, and victims’ families, Notes from the Field takes audiences on an emotional journey through the faults and injustices of an American criminal justice system that seems more focused on incarceration over education. Deeply human, profoundly moving, and full of moments of humor, compassion, and resilience, it’s a masterful work that asks you to observe, be present, and join the call for urgent and necessary change.

Originally performed by creator Anna Deavere Smith as a one-woman show, in TimeLine’s Chicago premiere, three actors weave together narratives of change makers, activists, and those caught within the system for an evening of theatre unlike anything you’ve experienced before.

CONTENT ADVISORY: To learn more about the specific content and themes of this production, please visit our content advisory page.

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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

    February 9, 2024

    “★★★…so gorgeously wrought, all three of the performers have dazzling moments”

    —Chris Jones

  • Newcity

    February 12, 2024

    an evening of grace and power…You’ll leave feeling both shaken and exhilarated, able to see America’s racial problems and school-to-prison pipeline with fresh eyes.”

    —Mary Wisniewski

  • Chicago Stage and Screen

    February 8, 2024

    a tour de force performance from all…an important play and should be experienced…go see it

    —Angela Allyn

  • Let's Play Theatrical Reviews

    February 7, 2024

    “★★★★…a cry for justice and parity..bold, introspective, provocative

    —Rick McCain

  • Around The Town Chicago

    “★★★★★…powerful and moving performances, thought provoking content and a challenge to us all to make a difference

    —Paul Lisnek

  • Chicago Theatre Review

    February 9, 2024

    a vibrant, mind-blowing production…I defy anyone to leave the theatre not moved by what they’ve just experienced.”

    —Colin Douglas

  • Buzz Center Stage

    February 9, 2024

    “Powerful performances and a hard-hitting script make this play an experience to remember. To put it simply, Notes from the Field is a must-see.”

    —Lauren Katz

  • The Fourth Walsh

    February 13, 2024

    these actors are fierce!Notes from the Field is the catalyst we need to inform systematic reform. Take note and get a ticket!”

    —Katy Walsh

  • Third Coast Review

    February 10, 2024

    “Every scene makes a lasting impression…Notes from the Field just needs to be seen.”

    —Susan Lieberman

  • Splash Magazine

    February 9, 2024

    “a profoundly human and affecting work of realism…unmissable

    —Michael Antman

  • Broadway World

    February 9, 2024

    “the production is full of humanity and emotion…Langford, Rivers, and Reid understand the assignment” 

    —Rachel Weinberg

  • Chicago Reader

    February 13, 2024

    a powerhouse trio…actors Mildred Marie Langford, Adhana Reid, and Shariba Rivers are chameleons, melting seamlessly from one character into another, transforming from young to old, man to woman, Black to Indigenous American to Latinx”

    —Sheri Flanders

  • ChilL Mama

    February 10, 2024

    “★★★★…one must see performance that will blow the blinders off audience members and bring systemic racism, classism, and school/police failures into the spotlight.”

    —Bonnie Kenaz-Mara


  • Chalkbeat Chicago

    February 26, 2024

    “With a play like Notes dealing with something so close to the students’ experiences, the teaching artists make sure to help students process the subject matter and express their feelings about it.

    ‘It allows you to sit in a space and note that it is not your fault. It is the fault of the system failing people,’ said Living History teaching artist Marcus D. Moore. ‘It takes that burden off of them, because they are carrying already so much in the world.'”

    —Crystal Paul

    Read the full review

Discussions & Events

  • NOTES FROM THE FIELD: 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 Performance of NOTES FROM THE FIELD
    Friday, February 16 at 8pm

    This performance has a capacity cap and seating chart.

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  • NOTES FROM THE FIELD: PRE-Show Discussions
    February 22 & March 10

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

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  • NOTES FROM THE FIELD: Company Member Discussion
    Sunday, February 25 at 3:30pm

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

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  • NOTES FROM THE FIELD: Sunday Scholars
    Sunday, March 3 at 4:30pm

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

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  • Open Captioned Performances of NOTES FROM THE FIELD
    March 8 at 8pm & March 9 at 4pm

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

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    Saturday, March 9, 2024 at 8pm

    A night at NOTES FROM THE FIELD dedicated to and celebrating Black and POC audience members.

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  • Audio Described Performance of NOTES FROM THE FIELD
    Friday, March 22 at 8:00pm

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

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