“Mind Games” is an original work written, directed and produced by Maurice Profit For more that 20 years, this production company has organized and produced a theatre production in the month of February celebrating Black History Month. Saturday February 22nd 2020 is the date for this year. Read on to learn more about this event as Chicago Splash Magazine interviews Maurice Profit.
When you plan theatre productions that honor Black History Month, as you have for more than 20 years, do you have a method for selecting the specific story?
Maurice- Typically I lean heavy towards original content and stories since you have quite a bit of room for creative allowance and leverage. Also, I like doing stories that are not typically told but when they come to the surface, immediately intrigue audience members. However, “Mind Games” is my 2nd time doing a Black History Production that was based (or inspired) by a true story; the first being “Last Night as King: The Final 24 Hours of the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”. However, this time, I’m writing, producing and directing a production that contains key people that are still with us, since the event took place so recently. Since this was a story that instantly captivated me and I immediately immersed myself into it, needless to say, producing this was a no- brainer.
How did you come upon the story you selected this year about a debate between inmates and Harvard students?
Maurice – I’ve learned over the last few years that every great story that someone tells, typically starts out with “Guess what I saw on Facebook!” And this is no exception. With that said, “Guess what I saw on Facebook back in 2015!” Hahahaha! But to be serious, it was October 2015 and I was on Facebook scrolling through the timeline and I came across this NPR article describing a recent victory of a prison debate team that just defeated the Harvard debate team. I had to read the headline a couple of times to ensure that my eyes were seeing this correctly and that I was processing this correctly. I was shocked.! I read the article and I Google’d just about every other news outlet that was covering this as well. It truly felt like I was reading a screenplay for what is the recipe of a tremendous Disney film, its just THAT inspiring! I spoke with my mother later that day and told her all about the article. I told her, “If we weren’t doing [The show I was producing for Feb 2016 – “Rise or Riot”] then we would be doing this production guaranteed.” Since then, I always had this story tucked in the back of my head of stories that I want to tell and now is more than an appropriate time to showcase this tremendous tale.
Can you tell me about the audience you would like to reach?
Maurice – If you have a pulse, THIS PRODUCTION IS FOR YOU! This show is not only telling the inspired story of how this event took place, but its also a lasting tale of the importance of education, perseverance and self-belief. Its important that the audience watching this understands that your immediate circumstances do not define you. What does define you, is what you do with the moments that are given to you and how it is that you use those moments to continue to be even better than you were moments before that. The only thing that I hope is that when the curtains close on this production that someone in the audience can walk out of the theatre and feel a renewed sense of self trust and love and are ready to push forward in being the best version of themselves that they can ever be. Therefore, I say THIS PRODUCTION IS FOR YOU!
What would you like Splash Magazine Worldwide readers to know about the experiences you have had preparing for Black History Month?
Maurice – While this production is familiar territory (being a part of this experience for over 20 years), it was a bit difficult (emotionally) piecing this together since my mother passed away on December 6th, 2019. My mother, Val Profit, is the mastermind behind creating this platform to showcase Black History in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. My mother created a theatre company by the name of “Powerhouse Productions”, a theatre company that provided a creative platform for artists of all levels to be directly involved with telling our stories. I took over the operations of not only her production company, but also created my own, B-Side Studios. I took over about 4 years ago, but something that really makes me smile is knowing that she was able to just sit back for her final few years and take in the production and just enjoy every piece of her creation still living on.
What is the best way to see your production?
Maurice: There is only one way to see Mind Games, and that is to join us on Saturday February 22nd, 2020 at the Al Larson Prairie Center for the Arts in Schaumburg, IL. (Address: 201 Schaumburg Ct, Schaumburg, IL 60193) Tickets are on sale at bsideproduction.com ($20 in advance; $25 at the door) Show begins at 6:30pm (SHARP). Do not miss this night, in addition to having a stellar production (with a DYNAMITE cast), but we have some of the best vendors in the area setting up shop. Booths consists of clothing, jewelry, books, beverages, BBQ, popcorn, etc. In addition, were going to have an onsite art gallery of original art pieces painted by inmates. This is solely in the interest of being able to show the many talents of men and women who are working towards rehabilitating themselves to do better with their 2nd act in life. I encourage everyone to come out, this is an evening that is PERFECT for the entire family.
Photos: Courtesy of Maurice Priofitt