For the first time, TimeLine Theatre takes the stage in the Loop. With a Tony-winning play and a Chicago premiere on the horizon, I asked Associate Artistic Director and director of OSLO Nick Bowling what he’s looking forward to this season.
BTD: What has you excited at the beginning of this rehearsal process?
Bowling: Two things in particular are exciting to me as we begin. First is J.T. Rogers’ gorgeous play. It’s a joy listening to his characters. The language is riveting and often hilarious. Everyone in the play is smart in one way or another. Somehow he has turned what could be a by-the-book history lesson into a heart wrenching, comic thriller.
Secondly, we have an amazing cast of actors. They are incredibly smart and funny. A perfect match for the play. I’m excited to get to know them and to work with them to mine every wonderful gem in J.T.’s script.
BTD: This production marks a shift for TimeLine’s ensemble from your Lakeview home to The Broadway Playhouse in the Loop. Why was this venue the right choice for OSLO’s Chicago premiere?
Bowling: It is the first time Chicago audiences will be seeing this Tony Award-winning play. Often these plays get a Broadway-level tour. In this case, we were fortunate to receive the rights to mount the Chicago premiere and we wanted to be sure as many people as possible could see it. By working with Broadway In Chicago, we are able to produce the play on a canvas it deserves and also connect with an audience who may usually see plays downtown and consequently not know anything about TimeLine. It’s a win-win for us and the play.
Also, there is a scope to the play which begs for a grand scale that we just can’t achieve in our intimate home on Wellington. It’s thrilling for me and our designers to have the opportunity to flex the design into the beautiful space at the Broadway Playhouse.
BTD: OSLO kicks off TimeLine’s 19/20 season. How does it set up Chicago audiences for the following three plays in your season?
Bowling: We have an incredible season this year; a little something for everyone and a lot of plays people have never seen. OSLO starts us off in a big way, a Tony-winning must-see play that falls squarely into our mission of exploring the past and connecting to social and political issues of the present.
Next we step further back in time and explore a play written in 1912 by a woman named Githa Sowerby. It’s another play that very few audience members will have seen, partially because it was not produced for many years (due to the author’s gender) and didn’t gain the popularity it deserved. It’s a family drama about greed, deception and a dominating masculine power suffocating a group of women.
Then we have an incredibly powerful play called KILL MOVE PARADISE by James Ijames. It’s set in a sort of limbo, with four young African American men who have been ripped from our world in an untimely manner. It will be an experience the audience will not forget.
Finally, we are presenting a new play by our company member Tyla Abercrumbie. I think this is one of the best new plays I have seen in years. Tyla is writing about two affluent African American women in the early 1900s who have found their mother’s journal. The story jumps back and forth between the mother’s past in the South and the sisters who are trying to figure out their future without her. It is beautifully written and is poised to become one of the best things we’ve ever done.
So you see, it’s an incredible year of plays that have not been seen by most people in Chicago. I can’t wait and I hope our audiences feel the same.
OSLO, by J.T. Rogers, directed by Nick Bowling. Timeline Theatre Company at Broadway In Chicago’s Broadway Playhouse. (773) 281-8463, timelinetheatre.com. Opens September 10.