TimeLine Theatre Company announces 2011-2012 Season

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 One production of 15th Anniversary season to be presented
at Theater Wit to accommodate audience growth


Chicago, IL — TimeLine Theatre Company, named the nation’s theater “Company of the Year” for 2010 by Terry Teachout in The Wall Street Journal and “one of the Chicago theater’s most impressive growth stories” by Chris Jones in the Chicago Tribune, announces its four-play 2011-12 season. Dedicated to presenting plays inspired by history that connect to today’s social and political issues, TimeLine’s 15th Anniversary season includes one world premiere, two Chicago premieres, a revival of a Pulitzer Prize-nominated work presented with a twist, and the TimeLine debut of two of Chicago’s most prominent directors.

In response to unprecedented growth over the past two seasons, including a 75 percent increase in the number of subscribers and multiple sold-out productions, TimeLine is expanding to accommodate audience demand with longer runs made possible by the addition of using a second venue. The opening production of the 2011-12 season will be presented at Theater Wit, located at 1229 W. Belmont Avenue in Chicago, with the remaining three productions taking place at TimeLine Theatre’s home just blocks away at 615 W. Wellington Avenue.

“TimeLine has crafted a vision for how we can continue to expand in smart ways, elevating our profile in Chicago and beyond and introducing our mission to a broader audience,” Artistic Director PJ Powers said. “This expansion beyond our home on Wellington Avenue is part of that vision, as we increase the number of performances and available tickets in the season to allow more audience members to experience TimeLine’s unique brand of theatre.”


A WALK IN THE WOODS by Lee Blessing
directed by Nick Bowling
Opening August 22, 2011
Presented at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago

In this compelling drama, two superpower arms negotiators meet informally in the woods after long, frustrating hours at the bargaining table. The Russian is a seasoned veteran, urbane and witty but profoundly cynical about what the negotiation sessions can accomplish. The American is a newcomer to bi-lateral talks and fervently idealistic about what can be achieved through perseverance and honest bargaining. Their absorbing, revealing and humorous conversations become a brilliant meditation on both the eternal hope and relentless futility of high stakes politics. A Walk in the Woods was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award for Best New Play, and Time magazine called it “a work of passion and power with the ring of political truth.”

In a twist on the traditional casting of two men for this play, approved by playwright Lee Blessing, A Walk in the Woods will feature TimeLine Company Member Janet Ulrich Brooks as the Russian negotiator and TimeLine Company Member David Parkes as the American. Brooks most recently appeared in The Seagull at The Goodman Theatre and has received Jeff Award nominations for her last four performances at TimeLine (All My Sons, When She Danced, Not Enough Air and Weekend). Parkes most recently appeared in TimeLine’s Chicago premiere of Frost/Nixon and Everyman Theatre’s Blackbird in Baltimore, and is currently appearing in Odradek at The House Theatre of Chicago.

Chicago Premiere
directed by BJ Jones
Opening September 10, 2011
Presented at TimeLine Theatre, 615 W. Wellington Ave.

Heralded in London and on Broadway, this new play by the Tony Award-winning writer of Broadway’s Billy Elliot is based on the triumphant true story of a group of miners from Northern England who become the unlikeliest art world sensations. In 1934, these miners hired a professor to teach an evening class on art appreciation. Unexpectedly, they were asked to grab a brush and paint. After many months of banter, experimentation and practice, the result was an astonishing body of work that took the art world by storm. An arresting and hilarious salute to the power of individual expression and the collective spirit, The Pitmen Painters is a humorous, deeply moving and timely look at art, class and politics. “Extraordinary for all sorts of reasons” wrote The Guardian after the play’s premiere in London, “it is a funny play that asks big questions about education, culture and the working class.”

The Pitmen Painters marks the TimeLine debut of director BJ Jones, Artistic Director of Northlight Theatre, who will direct The Outgoing Tide, featuring John Mahoney, at Northlight this spring.

ENRON by Lucy Prebble
Chicago Premiere
directed by Rachel Rockwell
Opening January 21, 2012
Presented at TimeLine Theatre, 615 W. Wellington Ave.

One of the most infamous scandals in financial history becomes a dynamic new theatrical event. Crafted as sprawling tragedy mixed with savage comedy, Enron follows a group of ambitious men and women through the breathtaking rush of greed and fraud that led to a legendary financial collapse. Along the way we confront a world where appearance has little relation to reality and gain disturbing insight into the reasons for present economic woes. A sold-out sensation in London, The Telegraph raved that Enron is full of “superb clarity as well as high drama it brings the mysterious world of high finance to vivid, comprehensible life.”

Enron marks the TimeLine debut of director Rachel Rockwell, who most recently received the Equity Jeff Award for Outstanding Director (Musical) for her triumphant production of Ragtime at Drury Lane Oakbrook and was named Best Director of 2010 by Chicago Magazine.

MY KIND OF TOWN by John Conroy
World Premiere
directed by Nick Bowling
Opening May 5, 2012
Presented at TimeLine Theatre, 615 W. Wellington Ave.

For nearly 20 years, John Conroy has covered the Chicago police torture scandal as a journalist, becoming one of the leading voices drawing public attention to the allegations. His two decades probing the halls of power and reporting on ruined lives culminate in this groundbreaking new drama. Stories inspired by victims, police officers, prosecutors, and families whose lives have been poisoned by the scandal are interwoven into a play that avoids easy answers to the questions of how, why and what now? My Kind of Town is a thoughtful and passionate examination of corruption, responsibility, and the culture of law and order.

In a 2010 New York Times article about My Kind of Town, Conroy said that his story seeks to show that “these were real human beings who had to make choices that we as a society need to see. And that those choices had consequences that we as a society and a city need to deal with.” My Kind of Town was initially developed with assistance from Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Northwestern University. Most recently TimeLine workshopped the play in November 2010 before slating it for production during the 2011-12 season.

“Our aim is to ignite dialogue about our place and role in history and these four plays spark discussion of vital issues in today’s local and national conversation,” Powers said. “Next year we ask questions such as: Is negotiation and talking with our adversaries essential in an ever-shifting and volatile political landscape? How can art play a role in everyone’s lives, not just the wealthy and privileged? How might we be complicit in the most damaging cases of greed and corporate fraud in our country’s history? And can Chicago’s violent streets be kept safe while we ensure that alleged criminals’ rights are protected and respected? TimeLine is poised to continue to develop as a leader in Chicago’s arts community, and I can’t wait to bring these four extraordinary plays to our ever-growing audience.”

FlexPass Subscriptions for TimeLine’s 2011-12 season go on sale starting March 15, 2011. For more information, call (773) 281-TIME (8463) or visit timelinetheatre.com.

About TimeLine

Founded in April 1997, TimeLine Theatre Company’s mission is to present stories inspired by history that connect with today’s social and political issues. During its first 14 seasons, TimeLine has presented 46 productions, including seven world premieres and 13 Chicago premieres. Recipient of the 2006 Alford-Axelson Award for Nonprofit Managerial Excellence and the 2009 Richard Goodman Strategic Planning Award from the Association for Strategic Planning, TimeLine has received 43 Jeff Awards, including eight for Outstanding Production.

TimeLine Theatre is led by Artistic Director PJ Powers and Managing Director Elizabeth K. Auman. Company members are Nick Bowling, Janet Ulrich Brooks, Lara Goetsch, Juliet Hart, David Parkes, PJ Powers and Benjamin Thiem. TimeLine is a member of the League of Chicago Theatres, Theatre Communications Group and the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce.

Biographies (in alphabetical order)

Lee Blessing (Playwright, A Walk in the Woods) is an American playwright whose works have been produced around the world. He has written more than 30 plays and one-acts, including Eleemosynary, Cobb, Two Rooms, Going to St. Ives, The Winning Streak, The Scottish Play, Thief River and Black Sheep. New York’s Signature Theatre devoted its second season to Blessing’s work, including the world premiere of Patient A. A Walk in the Woods ran for four months on Broadway in 1988 and later was produced in London’s West End, Moscow, and for PBS’s American Playhouse. His plays have premiered at Manhattan Theatre Club, Guthrie Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Yale Repertory Theater and Actors Theater of Louisville, among others, and have been nominated for Tony and Olivier awards as well as the Pulitzer Prize. His plays have won the American Theater Critics Award, The Humanitas Award and the George and Elisabeth Marton Award, among others. Eleemosynary won the 1997 L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award. Blessing has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts as well as the Guggenheim, Bush, McKnight and Jerome Foundations. Heinemann has published two collections of his plays, and his work has been performed at the O’Neill Playwrights Conference during eight different summers. He heads the graduate playwriting program at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University.

Nick Bowling (Director, A Walk in the Woods, My Kind of Town) was the founding Artistic Director and is now Associate Artistic Director and a Company Member of TimeLine Theatre. He is the recipient of an Equity Jeff Award for Outstanding Direction (The History Boys at TimeLine) and four Non-Equity Jeff Awards for Outstanding Direction (Fiorello!, This Happy Breed and The Crucible at TimeLine, Another Part of the Forest at Eclipse Theatre) and also received Jeff Award nominations for The Farnsworth Invention, Hauptmann and The Lion in Winter at TimeLine and for Closer Than Ever at Porchlight Music Theatre. Recent credits at TimeLine include In Darfur, When She Danced, Not Enough Air and Fiorello!. Other Chicago credits include Writers’ Theatre’s Bach at Leipzig, Shattered Globe Theatre’s Time of the Cuckoo and Frozen Assets, Rivendell Theatre’s Factory Girls and Buffalo Theatre Ensemble’s Angels in America, among others. He will next direct The Front Page by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur at TimeLine.

Janet Ulrich Brooks (Cast, A Walk in the Woods) is a TimeLine Company Member, where she previously has been seen in All My Sons (Equity Jeff Award nomination — Actress in a Principal Role, Play), When She Danced (Equity Jeff Award nomination — Actress in a Supporting Role, Play), Not Enough Air (Equity Jeff Award nomination — Actress in a Principal Role, Play) and Weekend (Equity Jeff Award nomination — Actress in a Supporting Role, Play), among others. Other Chicago-area credits include The Seagull and A True History of The Johnstown Flood at the Goodman Theatre and Golda’s Balcony (Pegasus Players, Non-Equity Jeff Award — Solo Performance) as well as productions at Victory Gardens, Strawdog, Steppenwolf, Writers’, ShawChicago, Collaboraction, Live Bait and Northlight theatres. Film credits include Polish Bar, and Conviction opposite Hilary Swank.

John Conroy (Playwright, My Kind of Town) is credited with bringing the Chicago police torture scandal to light and keeping it there, publishing more than 100,000 words on the subject in articles in the Chicago Reader. Much of his work can be found at the Reader‘s John Conroy Archive at chicagoreader.com/policetorture. In his book, Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People (Knopf, 2000), Conroy used the Chicago incidents, along with stories from Northern Ireland and Israel, as case studies to illustrate the dynamics of torture. He is also the author of Belfast Diary: War as a Way of Life (Beacon Press, 1987, 1995) and has written for The New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and many other publications. He has also reported on criminal justice issues for Chicago Public Radio and has won numerous awards for his journalism. He is now working as senior investigator at the Better Government Association. My Kind of Town is his first play.

Lee Hall (Playwright, The Pitmen Painters) is a British playwright and screenwriter, best known as the writer of the London and Broadway smash hit Billy Elliot, for which he also wrote the screenplay in 1999, receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. His acclaimed play Spoonface Steinberg, a monologue for a nine-year-old autistic girl dying of cancer, was first broadcast by BBC Radio 4 in 1997. He was appointed Writer in Residence at the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1999-2000 under the Pearson Playwrights Scheme Award. His play Cooking with Elvis premiered at the Edinburgh Festival in 2000 and transferred to London’s West End. He has adapted Goldoni’s The Servant with Two Masters (1999) and translated two plays by Bertolt Brecht: Mr Puntilla and His Man Matti (1998) and Mother Courage (2000). His adaptation of the Dutch play The Good Hope by Herman Heijermans opened at the Royal National Theatre in 2001. He adapted his own play, I Luv You Jimmy Spud, as a feature film starring Billy Connolly in 2000. Lee co-wrote the screenplay for the film Pride and Prejudice in 2005 and adapted The Wind in the Willows for television in 2006. The Pitmen Painters premiered at the Live Theatre, Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 2007.

BJ Jones (Director, The Pitmen Painters) is in his 13th season as the Artistic Director of Northlight Theatre. A Jeff Award-nominated director, he has piloted productions at Steppenwolf Theatre, Cherry Lane Theatre (New York), Intiman Theatre (Seattle), Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, Alliance Theatre (Atlanta), The Asolo Theatre (Sarasota, Fla.) and the Utah Shakespearean Festival. Previous directing credits include the world premieres of Craig Wright’s Lady, Larry Gelbart’s Better Late with John Mahoney, and Rounding Third with George Wendt, as well as Grey Gardens, Twelfth Night, A Number, Retreat from Moscow, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, A Skull in Connemara, The Cripple of Inishmaan, Glengarry Glenn Ross (Atlanta’s Suzie Award nomination) and Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie, with Tracy Letts and Mike Nussbaum. A two-time Jeff Award-winning actor, he has appeared o virtually every stage in Chicago. At Steppenwolf, he appeared in The Royal Family and Playboy of the Western World, at Northlight in Blue/Orange as well as The Guys, a co-production between Northlight and the Goodman where he also did House and Garden, directed by Robert Falls. On film he has appeared in The Fugitive and Body Double, and on television Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Early Edition, Turks, Cupid and The Untouchables.

David Parkes (Cast, A Walk in the Woods) is a TimeLine Company Member, where he most recently appeared in the Chicago premiere of Frost/Nixon and the world premiere of Not Enough Air. He has appeared in featured roles in more than a dozen TimeLine productions, including as Martin Heidegger in the world premiere of Hannah and Martin (After Dark Award), John Proctor in The Crucible (Non-Equity Jeff Award nomination — Actor in a Principal Role, Play) and Warden Whalen in the Chicago premiere of Tennessee Williams’ Not About Nightingales (Non-Equity Jeff Award — Actor in a Supporting Role, Play). Other work in Chicago includes Odradek at The House Theatre of Chicago, Steppenwolf Theatre’s production of Tennessee Williams’ One Arm directed by Moises Kauffman, as well as productions with American Theatre Company, Eclipse Theatre, Apple Tree Theatre, Streetsigns, Footsteps, Greasy Joan and Piven Theatre Workshop. Regionally, he appeared as Ray in Everyman Theatre’s production of Blackbird in Baltimore, Maryland.

Lucy Prebble (Playwright, Enron) is a British playwright and screenwriter. She is the creator of the British television series Secret Diary of a Call Girl. She won the George Devine Award for Most Promising Playwright for her debut play The Sugar Syndrome in May 2004, followed by the TMA Award for Best New Play. Enron, her second play, won the TMA Award for Best New Play 2009 and was nominated for the Evening Standard Award for Best Play.

Rachel Rockwell (Director, Enron) was most recently named the Best Director of 2010 by Chicago Magazine. Her directing/choreography credits at theatres such as Drury Lane Oakbrook, Marriott Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Fox Valley Repertory, Apple Tree Theater and Nobel Fool Theatricals include Ragtime (Equity Jeff Awards — Musical and Director, Musical), Miss Saigon (Jeff nomination — Musical and Director, Musical); The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Jeff nomination — Musical); Les Misérables (Associate Director, Jeff Award — Musical); Nunsense; A Christmas Carol; Disney’s High School Musical; Seussical the Musical; Disney’s Aladdin; The Emperor’s New Clothes; Leaving Iowa; John and Jen; It’s A Wonderful Life; Radio Play; and Married Alive. Rachel served as choreographer for Drury Lane’s production of The King and I (Jeff Award nomination); Marriott’s A Chorus Line, The Wizard of Oz and Do Black Patent Leather Shoes ; Steppenwolf’s Up, Lost Land and The Cherry Orchard; Chicago Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, Romeo and Juliet and Measure for Measure. Regionally, her work has been seen at the Maryland Shakespeare Festival, the New Harmony Theatre, The Little Theatre On The Square, McLeod Summer Playhouse and ISU Summer Stage. Upcoming projects include: 42nd Street and Shout! at Marriott; The Adventures of Pinocchio at Chicago Shakespeare and Sweeney Todd and The Sound of Music at Drury Lane.

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