Regarding the Chicago Profiles Theatre Abuse Story: Where is the Personal Responsibility?
What everyone seems to be either ignoring or intentionally skirting with this bizarre story coming out of Chicago is this:
These were all consenting adults.
Clearly this Darrell W. Cox dude is some kind of messianic, power-hungry, disturbed freak and it’s right that he’s been found out and called out, but these were not children in these shows, these were adults, and they all decided to just go along with all this crap?
Take a look at this from the very long and thorough article at the Reader:
But something troubling was occurring behind the scenes of Killer Joe, something that was part of a long-standing pattern of abusive conditions at Profiles for nearly two decades. In extensive interviews conducted over the past year, more than 30 former Profiles cast and crew members described in disturbingly similar terms what they suffered or witnessed while working at the theater. They alleged that, since the 1990s, Cox has physically and psychologically abused many of his costars, collaborators, unpaid crew members, and acting students, some of whom also became romantically involved with Cox while under his supervision at the theater. Others in key roles in the theater, they say, did little if anything to stop it or turned a blind eye altogether. Although the source material Profiles favored was often violent and misogynistic, the quality of its shows and the critical acclaim they garnered—coupled with a culture of fear and silence that developed inside the theater—allowed bad behavior to flourish behind the scenes, unbeknownst to audiences or the media.
Was everyone hypnotized and mesmerized like some kind of Manson Family Member? Were all these women and stage managers and directors bedazzled by all the attention and full houses to the point where they simply had to submit to the abuse? Were they drugged?
C’mon, people, where is the personal responsibility?
And you know what, if these non-Equity shows can’t seem to police themselves (though it looks like they are now trying), then in many ways it makes the case that perhaps these kinds of productions are in dire need of “adult” supervision ala Equity.
Take a look at this:
Fearing personal or professional retaliation, few witnesses ever came forward.
Now, a group of actors, including Benson and Wellin, have decided to share their stories. In doing so, they join a burgeoning national movement to protect actors and crew members from exploitation and harassment in the workplace.
Over the past two years, theater professionals have pressed their unions and other organizations, through petitions and direct appeals, to take an active stand against abuse within their community. This includes a petition against workplace harassment created by the Lilly Awards Foundation that has since been signed by more than 500 actors, tech workers, and activists. Recently, Actors’ Equity, the actors’ union, featured an article on addressing sexual harassment and provided a list of resources in Equity, the monthly magazine that goes out to its 50,000 members.
While Actors’ Equity has extensive rules and codes of behavior that cover everything from auditions to closings, including procedures for filing official complaints, these safeguards aren’t available to individuals or institutions not affiliated with the union, so-called non-Equity actors and theaters.
The movement has now turned its attention to non-Equity theaters, with their relative lack of protections and safeguards. Here in Chicago, more than 700 actors and other theater professionals have joined together to form Not in Our House, a support group to deal with the aftereffects of abuse and to establish a code of conduct for non-Equity theaters. Profiles Theatre joined Equity in 2012, after many of the behind-the-scenes problems had occurred. Cox himself is not a member.
We certainly have our Cox-like characters here in LA: the Kenne Guillory’s and Zaccahrin Thibodeou’s who are so deluded and twisted and self-indulgent that they think having improvised hot tub audtions are okay or that telling actors they will get paid and then bugging out on them is okay. Sounds like this Cox fellow is from the same ilk, but there seems to be all this blame flying around and none of it directed at those who were and are allowing these people to abuse them.
I mean look at this pity party:
Director Sarah Atkins, meanwhile, was nominated for a Jeff Award for “her” work on Julie Jensen’s Stray Dogs, which became Profiles’s first big hit. These phantom company members, whose names don’t appear in any public records, were an open secret within Profiles. Cox and Jahraus didn’t even create plausible biographies for them; Sarah Atkins, for instance, was said to have previously worked in a London theater that never existed.
“They had no way to know you’re going to be able to, years later, check up on it,” remembers Sara, a former girlfriend of Cox’s who was also a member of the company from 2000 to 2004. Sara and others asked to be identified by their first names out of fear of personal or professional retaliation.
Actors in Chicago, especially female actors, feel they’re in a vulnerable position. There are only a few roles to go around to begin with, and no one wants to have a reputation as being “difficult” or a complainer. “It’s really hard to break in, and it is a very tight-knit community,” says Sue Redman, an actress and producer who now lives in LA, “and so having someone powerful say, ‘Yeah, your career is not going to happen if you say anything,’ I mean it’s a very real thing.”
“Difficult” or “a complainer”? Guy is putting his hands down your pants without permission, injuring people on stage and not rehearsing fight scenes and you’re worried about being “difficult”?
I’m sorry, but if you allow crap like this to happen, then YOU are to blame.
And don’t tell me I’m blaming the victim. A victim is a person who is abused or misused without their consent and beyond their control. That is not the case with a theater production where everyone is there of their own accord and acting from their own free will.
If this is a cautionary tale, it’s a cautionary tale about taking responsibility for your own career, your own craft, your own body and your own dignity.
And now I see that the critics are being blamed (or blaming themselves?) for not noticing.
Good Lord. Everyone blamed but the people directly involved, the ones who allowed themselves to be taken advantage of by this idiot Cox.
We have truly become a society of victims.