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TimeLine Theatre's 2011-12 Season

 

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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.

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TIMELINE THEATRE'S 2011-12 SEASON:

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, Everyman Theatre's Blackbird in Baltimore, and Odradek at The House Theatre of Chicago.


Chicago Premiere
THE PITMEN PAINTERS

by Lee Hall
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.


Chicago Premiere
ENRON
by Lucy Prebble
directed by Rachel Rockwell
Opening January 21, 2012
Presented at TimeLine Theatre


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.


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

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.


"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."

"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."