Monday, April 11, 2022

Extended: TimeLine Theatre Company’s Relentless by Tyla Abercrumbie at Goodman Now Through May 8th, 2022

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Extended Due to Popular Demand 

APRIL 1 – MAY 8, 2022



It was my great pleasure to catch opening night of Timeline Theatre's Relentless and I can attest the rave reviews are well deserved. Here at ChiIL Mama we're thrilled that Relentless will now enjoy a downtown run at Goodman, since their world premiere at Theater WIT was sold out, and many were unable to purchase tickets. Tyla Abercrumbie, better known as an accomplished stage and TV actor, has created an exceptional, engaging feat of storytelling that's an absolute must see. 

Relentless is a timely, tale of black American history, set at the end of the Victorian era. We love that the storyline is female focused and features smart, well educated, wealthy, black women descended from strong women who had to make horrific choices. It's tendrils go back generations, to the slave days, as a recently deceased mother's journal entries come to life on stage as they are read by her two grieving daughters. 

The plot is unpredictable and the characters are complex, multifaceted, and intriguing. One hundred years later we still struggle and fight against the same prejudices, violence, and hate, and though much progress has been made, we have a long way to go to achieve true equality. Racism is indeed a birth defect our country has and as relentless and insidious as it's effects and challenges are, those who push back and fight against it are even more relentless, still. This production reclaims the black narrative from the hands of white, male playwrights, and features stories underrepresented on stage, with a universal appeal. Highly recommended.

Two adjustments to the season schedule at Goodman Theatre shifts the 2021/2022 “Homecoming” Season line-up in the months ahead. The world-premiere production of Swing State by Rebecca Gilman directed by Robert Falls, previously announced for this spring, has been repositioned as this fall’s Owen Theatre opener in the final season Falls plans before stepping down as Artistic Director. In its place, the Goodman presents the “downtown debut” of TimeLine Theatre Company’s acclaimed production of Relentless by Tyla Abercrumbie, directed by Ron OJ Parson on the heels of its sold-out world-premiere off-Loop run. A centuries-spanning tale of family, legacy and progress set in the Black Victorian age, Relentless “acknowledges the complexity of everything in, challenging and deeply moving…the best new work here in years” (Chicago Tribune); “a visual treat; bracing and truthful (with) terrific performances” (Chicago Sun-Times); “a masterpiece that will have you spellbound and wanting more” (Let’s Play/ Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP is a Corporate Sponsor Partner for Goodman’s production of Relentless. Relentless appears April 1 – May 1 (Opening Night is April 11) in the Goodman’s Owen Theatre. Tickets ($15 - $55) are available now; visit or call 312.443.3800.

“On behalf of us all at the Goodman, I am grateful for the enormous support of our Chicago audiences as we’ve safely returned to live-in-person performances over the past seven months. Admittedly, this path has been uncharted, complex and inclusive of a few more scheduling shifts than usual,” said Artistic Director Robert Falls. “The latest shift involves rescheduling Swing State, a wonderful new play by my longtime collaborator and Artistic Associate Rebecca Gilman; in working with Rebecca, we believe the production would benefit from more time for development. At the same time, I’m thrilled to offer an opportunity for more audiences to experience another new play as we present TimeLine Theatre Company’s Relentless—a fantastic new work by Tyla Abercrumbie and directed by Ron OJ Parson in a production that has bowled over critics and audiences alike. This move enables a favorable circumstance for all artists involved, and we appreciate our audiences’ patience as we proceed.”

The critically acclaimed original cast reassembles for Relentless at the Goodman—featuring Ayanna Bria Bakari and Jaye Ladymore as sisters Annelle and Janet, with Rebecca Hurd as Mary Anna Elizabeth, Xavier Edward King as Franklin, Demetra Dee as Zhuukee (also called Annabelle Lee) and Travis Delgado as Marcus. Set in the Black Victorian era, Abercrumbie’s play looks at the deep personal secrets we keep to protect the ones we love most. It’s 1919; after the death of their mother, two sisters come home to Philadelphia to settle her estate. Annelle is a happy socialite desperate to return to the safe illusion of a perfect life with her husband in Boston. Janet is a single, professional nurse, determined to change history and propel Black women to a place of prominence and respect. After discovering diaries left by their late mother, they find themselves confronted with a woman they never really knew, exposing buried truths from the past that are chillingly, explosively Relentless.

“TimeLine is thrilled to partner with Goodman Theatre to provide Chicago audiences more opportunities to experience Relentless,” said TimeLine Artistic Director PJ Powers. “This play has been a multi-year passion project for us, launched and developed through TimeLine’s Playwrights Collective starting in 2017. After the originally planned 2020 run was delayed by the pandemic, we finally celebrated its world premiere in January. The response was overwhelming, and it was clear that the play deserved more life beyond its limited run. Audiences and critics alike have recognized that Tyla Abercrumbie’s voice has a beauty and poetry that is absolutely searing. The play already has the feel of a classic, yet it burns with a contemporary relevance that is unmistakable. We can’t wait to introduce Relentless to more people, thanks to this partnership with the Goodman.”

The production team includes Jack Magaw (Scenic Designer), Christine Pascual (Costume Designer), Heather Gilbert (Lighting Designer), Jennifer Wernau (Properties Designer), Christopher Kriz (Sound Designer), Mike Tutaj (Projections Designer), Megan E. Pirtle (Wig and Hair Designer), Rachel Flesher (Intimacy and Violence Director), Sammi Grant (Dialect Director), Khalid Y. Long (Dramaturg) and Tiffany Fulson (Assistant Director). For more information about Relentless, including artist bios and headshots, visit

On stage now, and still to come, in Goodman Theatre’s 2021/2022 “Homecoming” Season are Mary Zimmerman’s The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci (through March 20); the world premiere of Good Night, Oscar by Doug Wright, directed by Lisa Peterson (March 12 – April 17); and Life After by Britta Johnson, directed by Annie Tippe (June 11 – July 17). One production is TBA. The season began in August 2021 when live-in-person performances could safely resume—starting with School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play by Jocelyn Bioh, directed by Lili-Anne Brown. The season continued with American Mariachi by José Cruz González, directed by Henry Godinez; Fannie (The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer) by Cheryl L. West, directed by Henry Godinez; the 17th annual New Stages Festival including six plays—Nightwatch by Max Yu, directed by Chay Yew; Layalina by Martin Yousif Zebari directed by Sivan Battat; along with staged readings of Fires, Ohio by Beth Hyland, directed by Marti Lyons; Your Name Means Dream by José Rivera, directed y Audrey Francis; and Watching the Watcher by Dael Orlandersmith, directed by Neel Keller; as well as the virtual reality experience Hummingbird by Jo Cattell, created by Daria Tsoupikova, Sai Priya Jyothula, Andrew Johnson, Arthur Nishimoto and Lance Long at the Electronic Visualization Laboratory in the University of Illinois as Chicago); and the 44th annual production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, directed by Jessica Thebus; and August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean directed by Chuck Smith.


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 celebrating its 25th Anniversary season, TimeLine has presented 83 productions, including 11 world premieres and 38 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 early 2024.

TimeLine is led by Artistic Director PJ Powers, Managing Director Elizabeth K. Auman and Board President John Sterling. 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 the Abe and Ida Cooper Foundation, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, Arts Consulting Group, Bayless Family Foundation, The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, City of Chicago, Crown Family Philanthropies, Joseph and Bessie Feinberg Foundation, Forum Fund, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, Illinois Arts Council Agency, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, 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. TimeLine’s production of Relentless is supported in part by the Bayless Family Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional support provided by Douglas Bradbury and The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation. For more information, visit or Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (@TimeLineTheatre).


Chicago’s theater since 1925, Goodman Theatre is a not-for-profit arts and community organization in the heart of the Loop, distinguished by the excellence and scope of its artistic programming and community engagement. Led by Artistic Director Robert Falls and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, the theater’s artistic priorities include new play development (more than 150 world or American premieres), large scale musical theater works and reimagined classics. Artists and productions have earned two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards and more than 160 Jeff Awards, among other accolades. The Goodman is the first theater in the world to produce all 10 plays in August Wilson’s “American Century Cycle.” Its longtime annual holiday tradition A Christmas Carol, now in its fourth decade, has created a new generation of theatergoers in Chicago. The Goodman also frequently serves as a production and program partner with national and international companies and Chicago’s Off-Loop theaters.

As a cultural and community organization invested in quality, diversity and community, Goodman Theatre is committed to using the art of theater for a better Chicago. Using the tools of the theatrical profession, the Goodman’s Education and Engagement programs aim to develop generations of citizens who understand the cultures and stories of diverse voices. The Goodman’s Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement is the home of these programs, which are offered free of charge for Chicago youth—85% of whom come from underserved communities—schools and life-long learners.

Goodman Theatre was founded by William O. Goodman and his family in honor of their son Kenneth, an important figure in Chicago’s cultural renaissance in the early 1900s. The Goodman family’s legacy lives on through the continued work and dedication of Kenneth’s family, including Albert Ivar Goodman, who with his late mother, Edith-Marie Appleton, contributed the necessary funds for the creation of the new Goodman center in 2000.

Today, Goodman Theatre leadership also includes the distinguished members of the Artistic Collective: Rebecca Gilman, Henry Godinez, Dael Orlandersmith, Steve Scott, Kimberly Senior, Chuck Smith, Regina Taylor and Mary Zimmerman. Goodman Theatre’s Board of Trustees Chairman is Jeff Hesse and Fran Del Boca is Women’s Board President, Craig McCaw is President of the Scenemakers Board for young professionals.

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