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Profiles Theatre closes in wake of abuse allegations

Written by
Kris Vire
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Profiles Theatre has ceased operations, one week after the publication of an investigation by the Chicago Reader into allegations of physical, emotional and psychological abuse by artistic director Darrell W. Cox, ranging from repeatedly taking advantage of his position of authority over young female costars to endangering his fellow actors onstage by disregarding fight choreography in the name of "truthfulness."

The theater posted a message to its website late Tuesday night announcing its closure, effective immediately.

The Reader interviewed more than 30 people who had been associated with Profiles over the past couple of decades, painting a portrait of a frequently toxic environment with Cox at its center. A statement was posted to Profiles' Facebook page Friday night, attributed to Cox, dismissing the allegations, but in the wake of the Reader's article, more such stories came to light, and the conversation about the alleged transgressions went nationwide. The tenor of Profiles' onstage fare, which often favored themes of misogyny and sexual violence (including frequent productions of works by Neil LaBute, with whom the theater cultivated a close relationship), was seemingly a reflection of the reality behind the scenes.

The playwright of Profiles' next scheduled production, Penelope Skinner, pulled the rights to her play in response to the Reader's story, and a petition was circulated asking the theater's board of directors to cut ties with Cox and his co-artistic director, Joe Jahraus, who the Reader's narrative suggested had at best turned a blind eye to Cox's abuses. But with Cox and Jahraus listed in public documents as president and treasurer of the board, respectively, it was unclear who might step in to provide any oversight.

Profiles was also facing pressure from Not In Our House, an advocacy group made up of members of the Chicago theater community that has been working to create a Code of Conduct for non-Equity theaters aimed at preventing the kind of maltreatment alleged to have taken place there. Profiles' closing message doesn't acknowledge the allegations.

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