Jeff Awards Will Address Petition To Revoke Darrell W. Cox's 2010 KILLER JOE Honor

Jeff Awards Will Address Petition To Revoke Darrell W. Cox's 2010 KILLER JOE Honor
Production photo of Darrell W. Cox
in KILLER JOE

Tracy Letts' 1993 drama, KILLER JOE, about a Texas police officer who moonlights as a hired killer, is filled with scenes of extreme physical violence and sexual situations. Equity theatre companies will hire professionals to insure such scenes are staged to preserve the safety of the actors and to avoid unnecessary sexual contact. The then non-Equity Profiles Theatre's 2010 production of the play, highly praised for the realism of its violent scenes, used the services of R & D Choreography.

The sold-out production was extended several times and there was even talk of a move to New York. It was awarded that year's Jeff Award as Chicago's outstanding non-Equity production of a play, with individual awards going to director Rick Snyder and the actor who played the title role, Darrell W. Cox.

Cox has been serving as the company's co-artistic director since shortly after it was founded in 1988 by co-artistic director Joe Jahraus.

However, after a recent report published in the Chicago Reader, the Jeff Awards will be addressing a petition that has been created on the website Change calling for Cox's award to be revoked (click here). The reason is because several cast and crew members from the production have stated to the Chicago Reader that Cox ignored the initial staging of the violent scenes and would regularly physically abuse his cast mates on stage during performances.

The article, which can be read here in its entirety, suggests that the non-union actors felt too intimidated to speak up against their treatment, for fear of not being seen as dedicated to giving audiences the best performance possible. Actor Somer Benson, whose character was thrown across the stage and choked by Cox's Joe, said she was regularly attacked on stage.

Actor Kevin Bigley, who did not respond to requests to be interviewed for the article, was once thrown into a refrigerator by Cox with such force that the appliance broke the wall behind it.

Reacting to the article, Anna D. Shapiro, Artistic Director of Chicago's acclaimed Steppenwolf Theatre Company, posted the following statement.

In the Facebook post below, Cox approves of the article's message of non-tolerance of workplace abuse, but denies the allegations made against him. He states that although Profiles became a member of Equity in 2012, they've been using an Equity contract as far back as 2009.

In addition, Cox says that he and Jahraus would welcome a meeting with Lori Myers and Laura Fisher of Not In Our House (notinourhouse.org), the recently formed collective addressing issues of sexual harassment, discrimination and violence in the Chicago theatre community.

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From This Author Michael Dale

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