It is 1934, and famous novelist Upton Sinclair is all but guaranteed to become the first Democratic governor of the state of California—until a young, unknown pair of consultants from the shadows of the challenger’s campaign attempt to take him down. As Frank Merriam and Sinclair battle it out in the spotlight—seeking endorsements from the likes of Charlie Chaplin and FDR—Leone Baxter and Clem Whitaker work behind-the-scenes to methodically construct one of the most spectacular, unbelievable, and star-studded smear campaigns ever.
Based on the true story of Baxter and Whitaker, who formed the first political consulting firm in U.S. history, 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.”
This world premiere play was developed through TimeLine’s Playwrights Collective, 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 the third play developed through the Collective to receive a full production, following Brett Neveu’s To Catch a Fish, which was presented at TimeLine in 2018, and Tyla Abercumbie’s Relentless, which will be the final production in the company’s current season, running May 6 – June 27, 2020. Campaigns, Inc. received its first public reading as part of TimeLine’s inaugural First Draft Playwrights Collective Festival in December 2018.
by TimeLine Company Member Will Allan
directed by TimeLine Associate Artistic Director Nick Bowling