By Adam Hetrick
and Kenneth Jones
16 May 2013
The script, "performed in various incarnations as a play at earlier stages of LaBute's writing career as both a student and otherwise," was eventually made into the acclaimed film released in 1997. It launched the careers of star Aaron Eckhart and screenwriter-playwright LaBute.
The picture received the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay, the Filmmaker's Trophy at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival and The New York Film Critics Award for Best First Feature. Its controversy is rooted in the misogyny of its two main characters.
In the Company of Men, directed by Profiles resident artist and Steppenwolf ensemble member Rick Snyder, runs through June 30. LaBute is a Profiles resident artist.
"Two frustrated young executives vent their pent-up rage via a childish prank and end up paying a price in the psychological dark comedy, In the Company of Men," according to Profiles Theatre. "Former college buddies Chad and Howard, now in their late 20s, work for the same company. When the two begin expressing their mutual frustration regarding their lack of rapid advancement at work and their recent bad luck with women, they hatch a nasty scheme to be enacted over an upcoming six-week-long business trip: Find a vulnerable young woman to court, slather with affection, and then callously dump. They choose a lovely, hearing-impaired typist named Christine, but soon their scheme creates escalating tension and psychological games not only with hapless Christine, but also with each other."
LaBute said in a statement, "I'm so excited to be putting this early work of mine into the hands of my trusted collaborators over at Profiles Theatre. The film was a fantastic experience for me personally, but I've always hoped that the script would make its way back to the stage. I've truly enjoyed the creative process of adapting the original play for the screen and now turning it back into a play again. I think it's in perfect hands with [Profiles]. I feel that these characters will still resonate with audiences and I know that Profiles will take In the Company of Men for the ride that it deserves — they never pull punches at Profiles and I love the artistic relationship that we have fostered together over the past few seasons. I consider myself a lucky man to still get work done regularly in Chicago and I believe I have a genuine home for that work at Profiles."
Profiles Theatre began its relationship with Neil LaBute in 2006 with the Midwest premiere of autobahn, followed by its long-running hit, Fat Pig. In 2007, Profiles devoted an entire season to the works of LaBute that included the Midwest premieres of In a Dark Dark House, Some Girl(s), This is How it Goes and a collection of short works entitled Things We Said Today followed by the Midwest premiere of The Mercy Seat in 2009 and the Chicago premiere of reasons to be pretty in 2011. Last season, Profiles produced the American premiere of In a Forest, Dark and Deep as the inaugural production of their newest venue, The Main Stage. The playwright twice participated in benefit evenings of readings and conversation to support the theatre's productions.
LaBute's reasons to be pretty sequel Reasons to be Happy begins Off-Broadway performances under the wing of MCC Theater May 16. Jenna Fischer, Josh Hamilton, Leslie Bibb and Fred Weller star. Read about it here.
The stage version of In the Company of Men is produced by special arrangement with LaBute's longtime collaborator and one of the film's original producers, Stephen Pevner of Stephen Pevner, Inc and Company One Productions.
The design team includes Thad Hallstein (set), Mike May (lights), Jeffrey Levin (sound and original music) and Raquel Adorno (costumes).
In the Company of Men plays Profiles' home The Main Stage at 4139 N. Broadway. For tickets and information, visit profilestheatre.org.