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Chicago’s Profiles Theatre Closes in Wake of Abuse Allegations

The storefront is shuttered six days after a Chicago Reader exposé detailed decades of alleged mistreatment by director Darrell Cox.

CHICAGO: Profiles Theatre has announced that it will close its doors, effective immediately. This news comes six days after the Chicago Reader published a 12,000-word article detailing numerous allegations of abuse at the theatre by performers who’d worked there over the past few decades. The news broke via a short statement posted on the theatre’s website, Facebook, and Twitter accounts, which read:

We are sad to announce that Profiles Theatre is closing its doors after 28 years and 81 productions. The closure is effective immediately.

We want to thank all of the artists who have worked with us during the past three decades. We are very proud of the many successes we have achieved together. We care about all of you tremendously and wish you only the very best.

We also want to thank our patrons. We will be forever grateful to you for your devoted and enthusiastic support of our work.

We hope this decision will further the healing process within our community. May Chicago theatre thrive and its future be bright.

The storefront theatre was founded in 1988 by artistic director Joe Jahraus and billed itself as an “actor-driven theatre ensemble dedicated to creating provocative and emotionally truthful productions.” Neil LaBute was a resident artist at the institution at the time. The theatre received several Jeff Awards and acclaim for its productions over the years, and also offered acting training.

On June 8, the Chicago Reader published a story titled “At Profiles Theatre the drama—and abuse—is real,” the result of a yearlong investigation by Aimee Levitt and Christopher Piatt. Co-artistic director Darrell W. Cox was at the center of the story, as a number of actors alleged that he routinely physically abused them onstage, in rehearsal, and in private settings.

An uncredited Facebook photo showing copies of the 'Chicago Reader' pasted on the front of Profiles Theatre.
An uncredited Facebook photo showing copies of the ‘Chicago Reader’ pasted on the front of Profiles Theatre.

In the days since, numerous artists nationwide have responded to the article, including the Jeff Awards Committee and Steppenwolf Theatre Company, some of whose members were involved in productions at Profiles. Many actors have stepped forward with their own stories of abuse at Profiles. A petition calling for the resignation of Cox and Jahraus gained 3,824 signatures; the hashtag #ByeDarrell was created on Twitter. British playwright Penelope Skinner, whose play The Village Bike was announced as the next Profiles production, pulled production rights.

On June 10, Cox released a statement on Facebook saying, in part:

For the record, Joe Jahraus and I (Profiles artistic directors) have never and will never condone workplace abuse at Profiles Theatre. Abuse has no place in any work environment, especially one as emotionally exposed as the theatre. Our craft demands that we bring the most personal and intimate parts of who we are to an audience. All of our actors are here of their own free will. We value their trust in us.

The closing of Profiles comes on the same day that the theatre’s business license for its space on 4147 N. Broadway expired.

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