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A WORLD PREMIERE, ELECTION SEASON COMEDY ABOUT THE ORIGINS OF “FAKE NEWS,” DEBUTS AUGUST 3 – SEPTEMBER 18, 2022 AT TIMELINE THEATRE
NICK BOWLING DIRECTS ALLAN’S HILARIOUS LOOK AT THE SMEAR CAMPAIGN THAT STYMIED UPTON SINCLAIR’S 1934 CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR’S RACE
Pictured (from top left): Campaigns, Inc. playwright Will Allan and director Nick Bowling. Tyler Meredith and Yuriy Sardarov star as Leone Baxter and Clem Whitaker, the co-founders of Campaigns, Inc. The cast also includes TimeLine Company Members Anish Jethmalani and David Parkes and TimeLine Associate Artist Terry Hamilton, plus Jacqueline Grandt, Matt Mueller, and Mark Ulrich.
TimeLine Theatre Company returns to its longtime home at 615 W. Wellington Avenue in Chicago’s Lakeview East neighborhood for its 26th season opener, the world premiere of Campaigns, Inc.
Written by TimeLine Company Member Will Allan and directed by TimeLine Associate Artistic Director Nick Bowling, Campaigns, Inc. is a timely, fast-paced, and funny screwball comedy about the serious power that persuasion, deceit, and perception hold in the U.S. electoral system.
Campaigns, Inc. is a hysterical and jaw-dropping inside look at the underbelly of politics through the lens of two of the undeniable founders of “fake news,” Leone Baxter and Clem Whitaker. The year is 1934, and Baxter and Whitaker have just formed the first political consulting firm in U.S. history. Famous novelist Upton Sinclair is all but guaranteed to become the first Democratic governor of the state of California—until this young, unknown pair of consultants from the shadows of the challenger’s campaign attempt to take him down. As Republican nominee Frank Merriam and Sinclair battle it out in the spotlight—seeking endorsements from the likes of Charlie Chaplin and FDR—Baxter and Whitaker work behind-the-scenes to methodically construct one of the most spectacular, unbelievable, and star-studded political smear campaigns ever.
Campaigns, Inc. co-founders are played by Tyler Meredith (she/her), in her TimeLine debut as Leone Baxter, and Yuriy Sardarov (he/him) as Clem Whitaker. Chicago theatre fans will recall Sardarov performing in TimeLine’s memorable 2009 production of The History Boys before landing the role of Otis on NBC’s Chicago Fire.
The cast also features TimeLine Company Member Anish Jethmalani (he/him) as Upton Sinclair and David Parkes (he/him) as FDR/Louis B. Mayer/Douglas Fairbanks/others, and TimeLine Associate Artist Terry Hamilton (he/him) as Frank Merriam. Jacqueline Grandt (she/her) as Eleanor Roosevelt/Mary Pickford/others, Matt Mueller (he/him) as Charlie Chaplin, and Mark Ulrich (he/him) as George Hatfield complete the cast.
Campaigns, Inc. begins previews August 3, 2022. Press Night is Wednesday, August 10 at 7:30 p.m. Opening Night is August 11. Performances run through September 18 at TimeLine Theatre, 615 W. Wellington Ave., in Chicago’s Lakeview East neighborhood. For tickets and information, visit timelinetheatre.com or call the TimeLine Box Office at (773) 281-8463 x6.
FAKE NEWS, LIES, AND PROPAGANDA:
BEHIND THE SCENES OF CAMPAIGNS, INC.
Setting the Stage: CAMPAIGNS, INC.
"The number one thing? Vote. The number two thing? Come see my play." Watch playwright Will Allan set the stage for TimeLine Theatre's world premiere of Campaigns, Inc.
“Campaigns, Inc. is the story of America, or really, it’s the story of how screwed up our political system is,” said director Nick Bowling. “The true story of Baxter and Whitaker is the center of the play, but it is also about the right and left of America—the dirty dealings of politics that pushes those two groups further and further from each other. It’s about the power of winning and what people will do to achieve that.”
“I think my favorite response to this play is ‘wait … is that real?’ And while I have taken some dramatic liberties, a lot of it is very real. I also want people to laugh. The current political climate is so volatile that I wanted a play about politics that is fun to watch,” said playwright Will Allan. “Baxter and Whitaker are relatively unknown and they changed the game of politics forever, especially Leone Baxter, a woman being president of a company and accomplishing what she did in the 1930s, it is truly remarkable.”
Campaigns, Inc. was developed through the same TimeLine Playwrights Collective that brought Tyla Abercrumbie’s break-out new play, Relentless, to its acclaimed world premiere run last season at TimeLine, followed by a transfer and extended sold-out run at Goodman Theatre.
TimeLine’s Playwrights Collective was launched in 2013 to support Chicago-based playwrights in residence and create new work centered on TimeLine’s mission of presenting plays inspired by history that connect to today’s social and political issues. Campaigns, Inc. is now the third play developed through the Collective to receive a full production, after Relentless and Brett Neveu’s To Catch a Fish, which premiered at TimeLine in 2018.
TimeLine’s production team for Campaigns, Inc. includes Sydney Lynne (Scenic Designer, she/her), Sally Dolembo (Costume Designer, she/her), Jared Gooding (Lighting Designer, he/him), Forrest Gregor (Co-Sound Designer, he/him), Andrew Hansen (Co-Sound Designer, he/him), Rowen Doe (Properties Designer, they/them/), Anthony Churchill (Projections Designer, he/him), Katie Cordts (Co-Wig and Hair Designer she/her), Megan Pirtle (Co-Wig and Hair Designer and Associate Costume Designer, she/her), Sammi Grant (Dialect Director, she/her), Alka Nayyar (Associate Director, she/her), Maren Robinson (Dramaturg, she/her), and Miranda Anderson (Stage Manager, she/her).
CAMPAIGNS, INC. PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE/EVENTS
Previews of Campaigns, Inc. are Wednesday, August 3 through Friday, August 5 at 8 p.m.; Saturday, August 6 at 4 p.m.; Sunday, August 7 at 2 p.m.; and Tuesday, August 9 at 7:30 p.m. I'll be out for Press Night August 10th so check back soon after for my full review.
Opening Night is Thursday, August 11 at 7:30 p.m. Regular performances continue through September 18: Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.; Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Sundays at 2 p.m. Exceptions: No 4 p.m. performance Saturday August 13. Show time Sunday, August 21 is 4 p.m.
Single tickets to Campaigns, Inc. go on sale Wednesday, July 6 at timelinetheatre.com or by calling the TimeLine Box Office at (773) 281-8463 x6.
Preview tickets are $25. Single tickets to regular performances start at $42 (Wednesday through Friday), $49 (Saturday evenings) and $57 (Saturday and Sunday matinees). Student discount is 35% off regular price with valid ID. TimeLine is also a member of TCG’s Blue Star Theatre Program and is offering $25 tickets to U.S. military personnel, veterans, first responders, and their spouses and family.
Discounted rates for groups of 10 or more are available. Ticket buyers age 18-35 may join TimeLine’s free MyLine program to obtain access to discounted tickets, special events and more. Visit timelinetheatre.com/discounts for more about available discounts.
Campaigns, Inc. will take place at TimeLine Theatre, 615 W. Wellington Ave., in Chicago’s Lakeview East neighborhood, near the corner of Wellington and Broadway, inside the former Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ building, now Chabad East Lakeview.
TimeLine is served by multiple CTA trains and buses. There are multiple paid parking options nearby, plus limited free and metered street parking. Visit timelinetheatre.com for details and available discounts.
DISCUSSIONS, EVENTS, AND ACCESSIBILITY
TimeLine’s schedule of post-show discussions, pre-show discussions, a Company Member discussion, and Sunday Scholars panel discussion, plus accessibility services such as distanced performances, captioned performances, and an audio-described performance, are still to be announced. Event dates and details will be posted on TimeLine’s website at timelinetheatre.com once available.
TimeLine Theatre is accessible to people with disabilities. Two wheelchair lifts provide access from street level to the theatre space and to lower-level restrooms. Audience members using wheelchairs
or who need to avoid stairs, and others with special seating or accessibility needs should contact the TimeLine Box Office in advance to confirm arrangements.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
Since returning to live performances in January 2022, TimeLine has been ensuring COVID-19 vaccination and mask requirements for audiences, artists, and staff. In general, protocols have required that patrons be masked and fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine in order to attend. These protocols are subject to change as the pandemic evolves. For current information about TimeLine’s COVID-19 safety protocols, visit timelinetheatre.com/health-and-safety.
TimeLine’s 2022-23 subscription season includes two more riveting plays that link past, present and future: a landmark classic that recently enjoyed a Tony Award-nominated production on Broadway, and another exciting world premiere from a Los Angeles-based playwright new to Chicago.
Trouble in Mind by Alice Childress, directed by TimeLine Company Member Ron OJ Parson, a scathingly funny backstage drama about interracial politics and the complex, difficult, and often emotional way people talk about race. Previews start November 2, 2022. Press Night is Wednesday, November 9 at 7:30 p.m. Performances run through December 18.
The world premiere of Boulevard of Bold Dreams by LaDarrion Williams, directed by Malkia Stampley, set on the night in 1940 that Hattie McDaniel made history at the Oscars, this is a story of dreamers striving to overcome considerable obstacles and fighting for recognition amidst the racism and inequity of Hollywood. Previews start February 1, 2023. Press Night is Wednesday, February 8 at 7:30 p.m. Performances run through March 19.
Save on tickets to TimeLine’s 2022-23 season with a 3-Admission FlexPass Subscription. Four different tiers, priced from $74.50 to $178, are now on sale. For more information and to purchase, call (773) 281-8463 x6 or visit timelinetheatre.com .
All three 2022-23 productions will be presented at TimeLine Theatre, 615 W. Wellington Avenue in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood.
ABOUT TIMELINE THEATRE COMPANY
TimeLine Theatre Company, recipient of the prestigious 2016 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions, was founded in April 1997 with a mission to present stories inspired by history that connect with today's social and political issues. Currently launching its 26th season, TimeLine has presented 84 productions, including 11 world premieres and 39 Chicago premieres, and launched the Living History Education Program, which brings the company's mission to life for students in Chicago Public Schools. Recipient of the Alford-Axelson Award for Nonprofit Managerial Excellence and the Richard Goodman Strategic Planning Award from the Association for Strategic Planning, TimeLine has received 58 Jeff Awards, including an award for Outstanding Production 11 times.
The company has long been bursting at the seams of its current leased home located at 615 W. Wellington Avenue in Chicago’s Lakeview East neighborhood, where the theatre has been in residence since 1999. In December 2018, TimeLine announced the purchase of property at 5033-35 North Broadway in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood to be the site of its new home. Plans feature an intimate black box theatre seating up to 250 audience members, expanded area for the immersive lobby experiences that are a TimeLine hallmark, new opportunities for education and engagement, room to allow audience members to arrive early and stay late for theatergoing experiences that extend far beyond the stage, and more. TimeLine is working with HGA as architect for its new home project, which is expected to be completed in 2024.
TimeLine is led by Artistic Director PJ Powers, Executive Director Mica Cole, and Board President John Sterling. TimeLine Company members are Tyla Abercrumbie, Will Allan, Nick Bowling, Janet Ulrich Brooks, Wardell Julius Clark, Behzad Dabu, Charles Andrew Gardner, Lara Goetsch, Juliet Hart, Anish Jethmalani, Mildred Marie Langford, Mechelle Moe, David Parkes, Ron OJ Parson, PJ Powers, and Maren Robinson.
Major corporate, government and foundation supporters of TimeLine Theatre include Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, Arts Consulting Group, Bayless Family Foundation, The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, Abe and Ida Cooper Foundation, Crown Family Philanthropies, Joseph and Bessie Feinberg Foundation, Forum Fund, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, Illinois Arts Council Agency, Laughing Acres Family Foundation, MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince, National Endowment for the Arts, Polk Bros. Foundation, Pritzker Traubert Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, United States Small Business Administration, and Walder Foundation.
For more information, visit timelinetheatre.com or Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (@TimeLineTheatre).
Will Allan (Playwright), a TimeLine Company Member and member of the 2017-18 Playwrights Collective, is a former Chicago-based actor and playwright who now resides in Los Angeles. His Chicago debut was as a member of the original cast of TimeLine's Chicago premiere of The History Boys (directed by Nick Bowling, Equity Jeff Awards—Production and Ensemble). Campaigns, Inc. is his first full-length play, and he is ecstatic that the place he got his start as an actor is the place he'll get his start as a professional playwright. During his decade in Chicago, he performed in numerous productions with Steppenwolf, Goodman, Chicago Shakespeare, Victory Gardens, Remy Bumppo, Theater Wit, and more. Regionally, he has performed with Milwaukee Repertory, Indiana Repertory, Cardinal Stage, and The Human Race Theatre Company. His film and TV acting credits include Awkwafina is Nora from Queens, Chicago Fire, Station 19, Chicago Justice, Runner, and the upcoming Netflix film Unfrosted: The Pop Tarts Story directed by Jerry Seinfeld. His first short film (as screenwriter, producer, and actor), Star Vehicle, will be making the festival rounds throughout 2022 and 2023. A native of Dayton, Ohio, Allan studied at Moscow Art Theatre School in Russia and earned his BA degree in Theatre Performance from North Central College in Naperville, Illinois.
Nick Bowling (Director) was the founding Artistic Director and is now Associate Artistic Director and a Company Member of TimeLine Theatre, where he has directed more than 30 productions. He is the recipient of eight Jeff Awards for Outstanding Direction (The History Boys, The Normal Heart, Fiorello!, This Happy Breed, and The Crucible at TimeLine, Ragtime at Marriott Theatre, Sondheim on Sondheim at Porchlight Music Theatre, and Another Part of the Forest at Eclipse Theatre) and also received Jeff Award nominations for Oslo, Blood and Gifts, The Farnsworth Invention, Hauptmann, and The Lion in Winter at TimeLine; Closer Than Ever at Porchlight Music Theatre; and City of Angels, The King and I, and Man of La Mancha at Marriott Theatre. Other recent credits at TimeLine include the Chicago premiere of J.T. Rogers’ Oslo at Broadway In Chicago’s Broadway Playhouse, Master Class, The Audience, A Disappearing Number, The Last Wife, and Blood and Gifts. Other Chicago credits include Marriott’s The Sound of Music, Oliver!, and The Bridges of Madison County, Paramount's A Christmas Story, Northwestern University’s Guys and Dolls and Cabaret, Porchlight’s A Catered Affair, Writers Theatre's Bach at Leipzig, and Shattered Globe Theatre's Time of the Cuckoo and Frozen Assets.