Monday, July 4, 2016

"A critic’s mea culpa, or How Chicago theater critics failed the women of Profiles Theatre"


Savage ultimately chose not to address the issue, telling my friend in an e-mail that he felt it fell outside the bounds of his weekly column. That's not what disturbed me. What disturbed me was that this exchange took place in 2011, three years before I started looking into Profiles. But worse, when I eventually asked the writer of the letter, former Chicago actor Sue Redman, why she'd contacted Savage but not anyone in Chicago's theater press, she explained to me via e-mail:

"It was VERY hard to believe that these critics that supported Profiles didn't know what was going on. Like, at the very least, how hard is it to notice that every time you go to a Profiles show you are watching a misogynistic, predatory story involving [Cox] and a youngster-du-jour? Which led us to believe that the critics were on Team [Cox] . . . It seemed like these critics were so supportive of [Cox] and Profiles that there could be repercussions for reaching out, either legal or professional . . . It really felt like a potentially career-ending move."

As the former theater editor of Time Out Chicago (a gig I held from 2005 to 2009) I had been one of those critics who loudly praised some of the lurid, sexist, shock-jock melodramas Profiles produced over the years. Reading Redman's explanation was devastating, as it made me fully grasp my own boneheaded complicity in this story.