Showbiz Spotlight: Advanced Photos From Timeline’s “Too Heavy for Your Pocket”

Too Heavy for Your Pocket, running April 24-June 29, is a captivating drama about the 1960s civil rights Freedom Rider movement. TimeLine’s production marks the Chicago debut of playwright Jiréh Breon Holder, named one of “Tomorrow’s Marquee Names, Now in the Making” by The New York Times.

Set during the height of the civil rights movement, Too Heavy for Your Pocket is a captivating and complicated tale about the intersection of family, responsibility, and progress. Previously seen at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre and in an extended Off Broadway run at Roundabout Theatre, Holder’s riveting new play was 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).

TimeLine Company Member Ron OJ Parson will direct TimeLine’s Chicago debut of Too Heavy for Your Pocket. Named one of Chicago’s most “in demand directors” by Chicago Magazine (February 2019), Parson’s credits at TimeLine include Brett Neveu’s To Catch a Fish, Dominique Morisseau’s Paradise Blue and Sunset Baby, and Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun. Right before helming TimeLine’s Too Heavy for Your Pocket, Parson is also directing back-to-back productions of August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom for Writers Theatre and Sweat by Lynn Nottage at Goodman.

The Too Heavy for Your Pocket cast, all making their TimeLine debuts, features Jalen Gilbert (he/him, playing Bowzie), Ayanna Bria Bakari (she/her, as Evelyn), Jennifer Latimore (she/her, as Sally Mae), and Cage Sebastian Pierre (he/him, as Tony). Gilbert was previously seen in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and East Texas Hot Links at Writers Theatre and Mies Julie at Victory Gardens. Bakari recently co-starred in How to Catch Creation at Goodman Theatre. She also has performed at Victory Gardens, 16th Street Theatre, The New Colony, and in Stage Left’s Jeff-nominated Insurrection: Holding History. Both Gilbert and Bakari are graduates of The Theatre School at DePaul University. Latimore was recently seen in We Are Proud to Present a Presentation… for Steppenwolf for Young Adults, and The Importance of Being Earnest and Twelfth Night Or What You Will at Writers Theatre. Other credits are Court Theatre’s Harvey and Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Love’s Labor’s Lost and Macbeth. Pierre also appeared in Macbeth, as well as Q Brothers Christmas Carol and Short Shakes! Romeo and Juliet at Chicago Shakespeare, and A Moon for the Misbegotten at Writers Theatre.

TimeLine’s production team for Too Heavy for Your Pocket includes José Manuel Díaz-Soto (Scenic Designer, he/him); Alexia Rutherford (Costume Designer, she/her); Maggie Fullilove-Nugent (Lighting Designer, she/her); Christopher Kriz (Sound Designer and Original Composition, he/him); Jermaine Hill (Music Director and Original Composition, he/him); Vivian Knouse (Properties Designer, she/her); Katie Cordts (Wig and Hair Designer, she/her), Regina Victor (Dramaturg, they/them); Dina Spoerl (Lobby Designer, she/her); Cara Parrish (Stage Manager, she/her); and Am’Ber D. Montgomery (Assistant Director, she/her).

Too Heavy for Your Pocket begins previews on April 24.  Opening Night is May 2. Performances run through June 29 at TimeLine Theatre, 615 W. Wellington Ave., Chicago. For tickets and information, visit timelinetheatre.com or call the TimeLine Box Office at (773) 281-8463 x6.

MORE ABOUT TOO HEAVY FOR YOUR POCKET

Too Heavy for Your Pocket “brings the early civil rights movement up close and personal” (Deadline), resulting in a powerful look at the tenuous balance between security and risk, the bonds of love and friendship, and the personal cost of progress. Holder’s story centers on Bowzie Brandon, his wife Evelyn, and their best friends Tony and Sally, who all see happiness on the horizon when Bowzie gets a college scholarship and a chance to 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.

Jiréh Breon Holder (Playwright) is currently a writer on NBC’s new hit show New Amsterdam. He is an Atlanta-area playwright, director, and dramaturg. His sharp yet funny and often political plays frequently include wild visual metaphors and address the magic of everyday life in the South. From 2016-2019, Holder served as the Playwriting Fellow of the Department of Theater and Creative Writing at Emory University. In 2016, he received his MFA degree in Playwriting from the Yale School of Drama, where he studied with Sarah Ruhl. He is a co-founder of Pyramid Theatre Company in Des Moines, Iowa. From 2012-13, he served as the Kenny Leon Fellow at the Tony Award-winning Alliance Theatre. He graduated cum laude with a BA degree in Theatre from Morehouse College, where he served as the artistic director of Spelman College Playwrights’ Workshop and directed several productions. His play Too Heavy for Your Pocket was the recipient of the Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award, winner of the Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition, and had an extended off-Broadway run at the Roundabout Theatre in 2017. He was a recipient of the 2016 Edgerton Foundation New Play Awards and honored as the Fellowship of Southern Writers’ 2017 Bryan Foundation Award for Drama. His other plays have received productions at the Alliance Theatre, the Yale School of Drama and Yale Cabaret. He has also received readings at the Manhattan Theatre Club, the Roundabout Theatre, the Kennedy Center, and the Old Globe Theatre. Holder is under commission with the Old Globe Theatre, the Roundabout Theatre, and the Manhattan Theatre Club. For more, visit jirehbreonholder.com.

Ron OJ Parson (Director) became a TimeLine Company Member in 2016. His TimeLine credits include acclaimed productions of Brett Neveu’s To Catch a Fish, Dominique Morisseau’s Paradise Blue and Sunset Baby, and Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun. He is a native of Buffalo, New York, and a graduate of the University of Michigan’s professional theater program. He is the co-founder and former Artistic Director of Onyx Theatre Ensemble of Chicago and a co-founder and co-director of Ripe ManGo Productions. Parson is a Resident Artist at Court Theatre and an Associate Artist with Teatro Vista. Since moving to Chicago from New York in 1994, he has worked as both an actor and director. His Chicago credits include work with The Chicago Theatre Company, Victory Gardens, Goodman, Steppenwolf, Chicago Dramatists, Northlight, Court, Black Ensemble Theatre, Congo Square, Northlight Theatre, Urban Theatre Company, City Lit Theater, ETA Creative Arts, and Writers. Regionally, Ron has directed shows at Studio Arena Theatre, Alliance Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Milwaukee Repertory, South Coast Repertory, Pasadena Playhouse, Geva

Theatre, Virginia Stage, Roundabout Theatre, Wilshire Theatre, The Mechanic Theatre, CenterStage, St. Louis Black Repertory, Pittsburgh Public Theater, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre, Signature Theatre, and Portland Stage, among others. In Canada, he directed the world premiere of Palmer Park by Joanna McClelland Glass at the Stratford Festival. He is a member of AEA, SAG-AFTRA, and SDC. For further information, visit ronojparson.com.

SPONSORS

TimeLine’s Chicago premiere of Too Heavy for Your Pocket is sponsored in part by the Pauls Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional support from the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation.

DISCUSSION & ACCESSIBILITY EVENTS:

Post-Show Discussions: A brief, informal post-show discussion hosted by a TimeLine Company Member and featuring the production dramaturg and members of the cast on Wednesday, May 8; Thursday, May 16; Wednesday, May 22; Thursday, May 30; Wednesday, June 5; and Sunday, June 23.

Pre-Show Discussions: Starting one hour before these performances, a 25-minute introductory conversation hosted by a TimeLine Company Member and the production dramaturg on Sunday, June 9, and Thursday, June 13.

Company Member Discussion: A post-show discussion with the collaborative team of artists who choose TimeLine’s programming and guide the company’s mission on Sunday, May 19.

Captioned Performance: An open-captioned performance with a text display of words and sounds heard during the performance on Saturday, June 1 at 4 p.m.

Sunday Scholars Panel Discussion: A one-hour post-show discussion featuring experts on the themes and issues of the play on Sunday, June 2.

All discussions are free and open to the public. For further details about all planned discussions and events, visit timelinetheatre.com.

BUYING TICKETS

Single tickets to Too Heavy for Your Pocket are now on sale. Preview tickets are $25. Single tickets to regular performances are $40 (Wednesday through Friday), $49 (Saturday evenings) and $54 (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 Blue Star, MyLine and other available discounts.

To purchase a FlexPass, single tickets or for more information, visit timelinetheatre.com or call the Box Office at (773) 281-8463 x6.

LOCATION/TRANSPORTATION/PARKING

Too Heavy for Your Pocket will take place at TimeLine Theatre, 615 W. Wellington Ave., in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, near the corner of Wellington and Broadway, inside the Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ building. TimeLine is served by multiple CTA trains and buses. TimeLine offers discounted parking at the Laz parking garage at Broadway Center ($8 with validation; 2846 N. Broadway, at Surf) or the Century Mall ($9 with validation; 2836 N. Clark), with other paid parking options nearby, plus limited free and metered street parking.

ACCESSIBILITY

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. See DISCUSSION & ACCESSIBILITY EVENTS above for information about the open-captioned performance for patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing.ALSO AT

TIMELINE

Already announced as the opening production of TimeLine’s upcoming 2019-20 season is the Chicago premiere of J.T. Rogers’ internationally acclaimed and Tony Award-winning play Oslo. Directed by TimeLine Associate Artistic Director Nick Bowling, Oslo will run September 10 – October 20, 2019 at Broadway In Chicago’s Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut St., Chicago.

Three other productions of TimeLine’s 2019-2020 season, to be performed at the company’s home at 615 W. Wellington Avenue in Chicago, are still to be announced. The best way to secure seats to Oslo is to purchase a 2019-2020 TimeLine FlexPass Subscription. Four different tiers of 4-Admission FlexPasses, priced from $97 – $235, are now on sale. For more information and to purchase a TimeLine FlexPass Subscription, call (773) 281-8463 x6 or visit timelinetheatre.com.

Oslo will be part of the upcoming Broadway In Chicago season on sale in Spring 2019. Individual tickets for Oslo will go on sale in July 2019 (specific date to be announced) and will range in price from $30 – $75 with a select number of premium seats. Group tickets for 10 or more are now on sale by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710.

2019 YEAR OF CHICAGO THEATRE

TimeLine Theatre Company is proud to be part of the 2019 Year of Chicago Theatre, presented by the City of Chicago and the League of Chicago Theatres. To truly fall in love with Chicago, you must go to our theatres. This is where the city bares its fearless soul. Home to a community of creators, risk-takers, and big hearts, Chicago theatre is a hotbed for exciting new work and hundreds of world premieres every year. From Broadway musicals to storefront plays and improv, there’s always a seat waiting for you at one of our 200+ theatres. Learn more at chicagoplays.com/year-of-chicago-theatre/.

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. Now in its 22nd season, TimeLine has presented

78 productions, including 10 world premieres and 34 Chicago premieres, and launched the Living History Education Program, now in its 12th year of bringing 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 54 Jeff Awards, including an award for Outstanding Production 11 times.

TimeLine is led by Artistic Director PJ Powers, Managing Director Elizabeth K. Auman and Board President Eileen LaCario. 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, Maren Robinson and Benjamin Thiem.

Major corporate, government and foundation supporters of TimeLine Theatre include Alphawood Foundation, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, Bayless Family Foundation, The Crown Family, Forum Fund, The Joseph and Bessie Feinberg Foundation, Illinois Arts Council Agency, Laughing Acres Family Foundation, A.L. and Jennie L. Luria Foundation, MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince, the National Endowment for the Arts, The Pauls Foundation, Polk Bros. Foundation, and The Shubert Foundation.

For more information, visit timelinetheatre.com or Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (@TimeLineTheatre).