ConcerningStrangeDevices_Logo400pxTimeLine Theatre Company continues its 2012-13 season with the Midwest premiere of Concerning Strange Devices from the Distant West, reuniting long-time collaborators playwright Naomi Iizuka and director Lisa Portes in their TimeLine debuts. Performances run January 24 – April 14, 2013 (previews January 15 – 23) at TimeLine Theatre, 615 W. Wellington Ave, Chicago. 

To purchase tickets or for more information, call the TimeLine Theatre Box Office at 773.281.8463 x6 or buy online at timelinetheatre.com.

Concerning Strange Devices from the Distant West is a provocative examination of the American fascination with the exotic and distant Far East, evoking themes related to photography, art, desire, forgery and perception. The cast features Rebecca Spence, Craig Spidle, Kroydell Galima, Michael McKeogh and Tiffany Villarin.

This sexy, multi-faceted puzzle of a play travels from East to West and across time, exploring seductive themes in both epic scope and human scale. In the 1880s, a Victorian woman visiting Japan is fascinated by a new invention—the camera—that allows people to own images of distant lands they never dreamed they would be able to see. In modern-day Tokyo, an art collector navigates shifting relationships in search of physical memories of the past. Along the way we gaze as if through a lens at the mysterious intersection of art and authenticity, where very little is what it appears to be.

“This season TimeLine is taking our audience places we haven’t been before, and Naomi Iizuka’s play speaks directly to that mission—exploring exoticism and the desire for things that previously seemed out of reach or foreign,” said Artistic Director PJ Powers. “Written as a triptych, this play inspires curiosity and speculation, and our production will keep you riveted with its bold theatricality. It will be a feast for the eyes! And on top of that, I can safely say that it is sexier than TimeLine has been, well, ever.”


PREVIEWS: Tuesday, January 15; Wednesday, January 16; Friday, January 18; and Saturday, January 19 at 8 p.m.; Sunday, January 20 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Wednesday, January 23 at 8 p.m.

OPENINGS: Press Opening on Thursday, January 24 at 7:30 p.m.; Opening Night on Friday, January 25 at 7:30 p.m.

REGULAR RUN: Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. (except 8:30 p.m. on February 13 and March 28), Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through April 14, 2013.

POST-SHOW DISCUSSIONS: Free post-show discussions led by a TimeLine Company Member, featuring the production dramaturg and members of the cast, will be held on Wednesday, January 30; Sunday, February 3; Thursday, February 7; Sunday, February 10; Thursday, February 14; Wednesday, February 20; Thursday, February 21; Thursday, February 28; Wednesday, March 20; and Sunday, March 24, 2013.

SUNDAY SCHOLAR SERIES: A free hour-long post-show panel discussion with experts on the themes and issues of the play will be held on Sunday, February 24, 2013.

COMPANY MEMBER DISCUSSION: A free post-show discussion with TimeLine Company members will be held on Sunday, March 3, 2013.


Tickets are $32 (Wednesday through Friday) or $42 (Saturday and Sunday). Preview tickets are $22. Student discount is $10 off the regular ticket price with valid ID. Special rates for groups of 10 or more are available. Advance purchase is recommended as performances may sell out. To purchase tickets or for more information, call the TimeLine Theatre Box Office at 773.281.8463 x6 or buy online at timelinetheatre.com.


Concerning Strange Devices from the Distant West will take place at TimeLine Theatre, 615 W. Wellington Ave., Chicago. TimeLine Theatre is located near the corner of Wellington and Broadway, inside the Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ building, in Chicago’s Lakeview East neighborhood. The location is served by multiple CTA trains and buses. The LAZ Parking Lot at 3012 N. Broadway is the closest parking and costs $6.25 for 3-5 hours. TimeLine also offers parking for $8 for up to 6 hours with validation at the Standard Parking garages at Broadway Center (2846 N. Broadway, at Surf) or the Century Mall (2836 N. Clark). There is also limited free and metered street parking. There are two flights of stairs (18 steps) between the street and the theater space, with no elevator.


The production staff for Concerning Strange Devices from the Distant West includesBrian Sidney Bembridge (Scenic/Lighting Design), Janice Pytel (Costume Design),Mikhail Fiksel (Sound Design), Mike Tutaj (Projections Design), Julia Eberhardt(Properties Design), Dina Spoerl (Lobby Design), Alexis Links (Dramaturgy),Reshmi Hazra (Assistant Director), Eva Breneman (Dialect Coach), Jaclyn Holsey(Stage Manager), Ashley Karven (Production Assistant), RJ Lurie (Associate Costume Design), Austin Pettinger (Assistant Costume Design/Draper), Janet Howe(Wardrobe Supervisor), John Kearns (Production Manager), Caleb Charles McAndrew (Technical Director) and Mac Vaughey (Master Electrician).


Naomi lizuka (Playwright) is a playwright whose plays include 36 Views, Polaroid Stories, Language of Angels, Anon(ymous), Aloha, Say the Pretty Girls, Tattoo Girl, Skin, Ghostwritten, After a Hundred Years, Strike-Slip, At the Vanishing Point, Hamlet: Blood on the Brain (a collaboration with CalShakes and Campo Santo + Intersection for the Arts), and War of the Worlds (written in collaboration with Anne Bogart and SITI Company). Her plays have been produced by Berkeley Rep, the Goodman, the Guthrie, Cornerstone, Intiman, Children’s Theater Company, the Kennedy Center, the Huntington Theater, Actors’ Theatre of Louisville, GeVa, Laguna Playhouse, Portland Center Stage, the Public, Campo Santo + Intersection for the Arts, Dallas Theatre Center, the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s “Next Wave Festival,” Soho Rep, and the Edinburgh Festival. Her plays have been published by Overlook Press, Playscripts, Smith and Kraus, Dramatic Publishing, Sun and Moon Press, and Theatre Communications Group. lizuka is an alumna of New Dramatists and the recipient of a PEN/Laura Pels Award, an Alpert Award, a Joyce Foundation Award, a Whiting Writers’ Award, a Stavis Award from the National Theatre Conference, a Rockefeller Foundation MAP grant, an NEA/TCG Artist-in-Residence grant, a McKnight Fellowship, a PEN Center USA West Award for Drama, Princeton University’s Hodder Fellowship, and a Jerome Fellowship. She currently heads the MFA Playwriting program at the University of California, San Diego.

Lisa Portes (Director) is a Chicago-based director of new and contemporary American plays and musicals. Her recent projects include The Piano Teacher (Next Theatre); the world premieres of Ghostwritten (Goodman Theatre) and After a Hundred Years (Guthrie Theatre), both by Naomi Iizuka; Ski Dubai by Laura Jacqmin and Spare Change by Mia McCullough (First Look Repertory of New Plays, Steppenwolf Theatre); Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue by Quiara Hudes (Teatro Vista and Rivendell Theatre at Steppenwolf); Permanent Collection by Thomas Gibbons (Northlight Theatre); Far Away by Caryl Churchill and In the Blood by Suzan-Lori Parks (Next Theatre); and Wilder: An Erotic Chamber Musical by Erin Cressida Wilson, Jack Herrick and Mike Craver (Playwrights Horizons). Her work for young audiences includes Barrio Grrrl, Pinakalicious, Cinderella Eats Rice and Beans and The Highest Heaven — all for Chicago Playworks for Families and Young Audiences. Portes’ work has been seen regionally at Vineyard Arts Project, the Kennedy Center, South Coast Repertory Theatre’s Hispanic Playwrights Project, McCarter Theatre Lab, A Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., the Cape Cod Theatre Project, the Sundance Theatre Lab, the Santa Barbara Theatre Lab, and the Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference. In New York her work has been seen at Playwrights Horizons, Soho Rep, New York Theatre Workshop, the Public Theatre, the Flea Theatre and the Cherry Lane Alternative Theatre. As Associate Director, Portes mounted the international productions of the Tony Award-winning musical The Who’s Tommy. She serves as head of the MFA Directing Program at The Theatre School at DePaul University and Artistic Director for Chicago Playworks.


TimeLine Theatre Company, named one of the nation’s top 10 emerging professional theatres (American Theatre Wing, founder of the Tony Awards®), Best Theatre in Chicago (Chicago magazine, 2011) and the nation’s theater “Company of the Year” (The Wall Street Journal, 2010), was founded in April 1997 with a mission to present stories inspired by history that connect with today’s social and political issues. Over its first 15 seasons, TimeLine has presented 53 productions, including nine world premieres and 17 Chicago premieres; launched the Living History Education Program, bringing the company’s mission to life for students in Chicago Public Schools; and completed each season operating in the black. 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 47 Jeff Awards, including an award for Outstanding Production nine times.

Still to come in TimeLine’s 2012-13 Season:

  • Chicago premiere of Blood and Gifts by J.T. Rogers, directed by Nick Bowling, April 30 – July 28, 2013, presented at TimeLine Theatre

TimeLine 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, Mildred Marie Langford, Mechelle Moe, David Parkes, PJ Powers, Maren Robinson and Benjamin Thiem. TimeLine is a member of the League of Chicago Theatres, Theatre Communications Group and the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce.