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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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

    May 2, 2019

    ★★★ “If you’ve not heard of Jiréh Breon Holder or his play Too Heavy for Your Pocket, you might well think that the new drama at the TimeLine Theatre is a long-lost play from the so-called golden age of American drama … Rich in poetry, suffused with feeling, longing and upset, and determined to reflect the lives of ordinary people, whatever the urban elites might think. … The acting, direction and design in this production all are of a level that truly elevates the young script. Several of the scenes are deeply moving; all of them are acted with a commitment to truth-telling and, maybe most crucial of all, these flawed characters feel lived and respected.”

    —Chris Jones

  • The Root

    May 20, 2019

    The camaraderie and respective romances of these superbly-acted characters evoke the best of black culture—namely, our profound love for each other and ability to laugh, even in the worst of times. … Together, they comprise an incredibly powerful quartet; the emotional output almost overwhelming in its impact.”

    —Maiysha Kai

  • Chicago Reader

    RECOMMENDED. “Eminently engaging and candid … Full of joy and humor, singing and crying … It is the exceedingly powerful acting and directing that elevate this production … It’s delightful to see a play that is at once simple and yet produces such profound change for all its characters. … TimeLine reminds us that there is always a battle to achieve freedom—and how important that still is 60 years later.”

    —Josh Flanders

  • Chicago Sun-Times

    May 2, 2019

    ★★★ “[Too Heavy for Your Pocket] takes a long look at the economics of revolution and the steep price it exacts from those who could least afford it. … Director Ron OJ Parson’s richly realized production leaves plenty to ponder.

    —Catey Sullivan

  • CBS 2

    May 3, 2019

    ★★★ “A moving piece of Southern writing … The show is acted with a kind of poetic authenticity. You really feel like you’re in the long hot summer of 1961.

    —Chris Jones

  • Newcity

    May 6, 2019

    RECOMMENDED. “A soul-enriching new work … Featuring four young actors in level up mode, a director at the height of his creative powers (the inimitable Ron OJ Parson) and a text written in scorched earth, neither this play nor its production are “too” heavy. They are, as Kiese Laymon writes, ‘just heavy enough.’… This is a work that moves the needle forward on what the theater is capable of, with a commendable expenditure of talent and effort on the part of everyone involved in this production. Though I will make an effort in terms of quantity, there is no quality of language I can find to effectively express my gratitude to this show. It is, in summary, a blessing.

    —Kevin Greene

  • Picks in Six

    May 3, 2019

    A rich, vibrant cast artfully illuminate Holder’s absorbing study of the relationship between two couples consumed with a sense of purpose that is uniquely of the moment … Parson’s brilliant tapestry [is] a compelling reminder of the enormous courage and sacrifice by Freedom Rider activists of all races and religions during the civil rights movement in the early 1960s and how these events shape and influence the dialogue in America today.”

    —Ed Tracy

  • Stage and Cinema

    May 9, 2019

    “Fully-freighted … A TimeLine Theatre time capsule thrillingly staged by Ron OJ Parson, this blast from the past goes beyond yesterday’s infamous clash of activists against fire hoses to examine the internal resistance that also marred these moments.”

    —Lawrence Bommer

  • Let's Play / N’Digo

    May 5, 2019

    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. “The undeniably cast of talented actors was mesmerizing, and they all equally carried the play by complimenting one another in this essential and profound story with vigor … Too Heavy For Your Pocket is by far the #1 play of the year and will have its audience hypnotized by four great performances and asking for more. It’s a riveting powerhouse play that will pull at your emotions with laughter and tears.

    —Rick and Brenda McCain

  • Chicago On Stage

    May 2, 2019

    Parson, one of Chicago’s most gifted directors, uses every bit of José Manuel Diaz-Soto’s set as he pulls these brilliant performances from his actors. … In the midst of a play focusing on a moment in history that dangerously sought to undo some of the powerful mistakes of the past, Holder makes it all very personal because it is. And as we attempt to understand and deal with a resurgence of the hatred that led to slavery and Jim Crow, it behooves us to ask ourselves to stop, breathe deeply, and wonder what we would be willing to risk for our ideals.”

    —Karen Topham

  • Buzz Center Stage

    May 6, 2019

    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. “Funny, Weighty, and Good … Too Heavy for Your Pocket at TimeLine Theatre is both an important play, and a good one. Powerful, but not too heavy to bear, with a rock-star cast directed by Ron OJ Parson.

    —Bill Esler

  • Around the Town Chicago

    May 9, 2019

    ★★★★ “Too Heavy For Your Pocket is directed by Ron OJ Parson, who over the years has proven to be one of our best. His deep feeling and probably his own life experiences bring a special inner feeling to the characters and the story, Those of us, of a certain age, were aware of what was happening during this time in the early 1960’s, but in this story, we get up close and personal through the two families that are connected and their lives.”

    —Alan Bresloff

  • Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

    May 13, 2019

    “This is a little gem of a production, beautifully acted and skillfully directed by Ron OJ Parson.”

    —Julian Frazin

Discussions & Events

  • MyLine Preview Pizza Party: TOO HEAVY FOR YOUR POCKET
    Thursday, April 25 at 6:45 pm

    Pizza, drinks and a special pre-show discussion before TOO HEAVY FOR YOUR POCKET.

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  • Opening Night Celebration: TOO HEAVY FOR YOUR POCKET
    May 2, 2019 at 7:30pm

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

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  • TOO HEAVY FOR YOUR POCKET: Company Member Discussion
    Sunday, May 19

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

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  • Open Captioned Performance of TOO HEAVY FOR YOUR POCKET
    Saturday, June 1 at 4:00 pm

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

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  • TOO HEAVY FOR YOUR POCKET: Sunday Scholars Series
    Sunday, June 2

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

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    Various dates

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

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  • TOO HEAVY FOR YOUR POCKET: Post-Show Discussion
    Various dates

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

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    Saturday, June 29

    Closing night for the final production in TimeLine’s 2018-19 season.

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TimeLine’s Chicago Premiere of Too Heavy for Your Pocket is sponsored in part by