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Black History Month play in Schaumburg highlights last day of King


Powerhouse Productions’ 2018 Black History Month play, “Last Night as King,” features a diverse cast and will tell the story of the final 24 hours of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Courtesy of Maurice D. Profit

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Schaumburg-based Powerhouse Productions’ 2018 Black History Month play will recognize the 50th anniversary of the death of civil-rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. as well as the 20th anniversary of the theater company itself.

Writer/director/producer Maurice D. Proffit said the dual anniversary was somewhat coincidental. His inspiration for “Last Night as King: The Final 24 Hours of the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” was to do something special for the 20th birthday of the troupe established by his mother, Valerie Proffit. “Everything I’ve written before was fictional,” said the 36-year-old playwright. “This is my first period piece.”

The show will be performed at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, at the Al Larson Prairie Center for the Arts, 201 Schaumburg Court in Schaumburg.

Proffit said this is his first play that required months of intensive research before the writing started. But his enthusiasm for the subject proved infectious as his actors excitedly shared at each rehearsal what they were learning independently about the real people they were portraying

Though the events of the play lead up to a tragic episode in American history, it also includes moments of levity, humor and even singing as Proffit depicts the many sides of a man who wasn’t preaching 24 hours a day. King was not much older when he died than Proffit is today. The writer said he wanted to show that while the people King traveled with helped him in his work, they also were friends with whom the minister enjoyed spending time and joking around.

While the topics of many Powerhouse Productions plays may seem deep and mature, they are suitable for audiences of all ages, including this one, Proffit said. Indeed, he hopes children in the audience will identify with and be inspired by an 8-year-old girl in the cast who delivers an amazing, powerful monologue.

The cast features actors of different races and ages, emphasizing the universality of King’s work and legacy, Proffit said. “It’s a beautiful cornucopia of just so much talent and levels of experience,” he added. “You’re going to see a piece of yourself on that stage no matter who you are.” While much of the visual vibrancy of the production comes from its late-’60s costumes and design, it also shows the similarities to the present in how people of all backgrounds have come together to fight for what’s right, Proffit said. “I want people to see this story come to life,” he said. “It should empower them. As the writer and director, I want to make sure people go home being fulfilled.”

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Black History Month show in Schaumburg to address bullying


The cast of Powerhouse Productions’ “The Detention Club,” which will play at Schaumburg’s Prairie Center for the Arts on Saturday, Feb. 22. Powerhouse Productions has presented a Black History Month performance annually since 1999. Photo courtesy of Maurice Proffit

By Eric Peterson

As it has annually since 1999, Schaumburg-based Powerhouse Productions will present an original play this month demonstrating the relevance of Black History Month, particularly for young people. This year’s presentation, “The Detention Club,” tackles the universal issue of bullying by relating it to inspirational chapters from American history, fourth-time writer-director Maurice Proffit said. “Whenever we do a show, we always want to send a positive message home with the audience,” Proffit said. “The Detention Club” is described as a family-friendly comedy, albeit with splashes of drama, that will play on the evening of Saturday, Feb. 22 at Schaumburg’s Prairie Center for the Arts, 201 Schaumburg Court. While the main play runs from 7 to 9 p.m., Proffit encourages ticketholders to arrive by 6:15 p.m. to have the total experience — the supporting vendors and silent auction in the lobby, and the preshow that begins at 6:30 p.m. The plot of the show revolves around group of students in detention, much like the film, “The Breakfast Club,” and contains many contemporary pop culture references. It’s expected to be of particular interest to junior high and high school students, as well as their parents. The characters in the play are students with whom this age group can identify, Proffit said.
“Each student has a story about what brought them to detention, and a very dynamic personality,” he added. Proffit said bullying has always existed, and is something with which every generation can relate. But only recently has society begun to truly address it and its psychological effects, he said. Most of the diverse cast are young actors between the ages of 12 and 18, Powerhouse Productions also provides roles for adults between 20 and 40.
Proffit, whose mother Valerie Profit began Powerhouse Productions, said he finds his cast in all sorts of ways — social media, fliers at Schaumburg-area schools and even from among the audiences of earlier shows. “Every year, people tell us they want to be involved on our stage the next year,” Proffit said. Though Powerhouse Productions has largely focused on the annual Black History Month show, Proffit said he would like to start doing other projects at different times of the year. Tickets for “The Detention Club” are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. To purchase tickets, visit or call (847) 895-3600.

For more information about Powerhouse Productions, visit its Facebook page at powerhouseproductions99. Link to Article:

Schaumburg play examines reactions to police shootings


By: Eric Peterson

Powerhouse Productions’ 2016 Black History Month play, “Rise or Riot,” will be performed Saturday, Feb. 27, at Schaumburg’s Prairie Center for the Arts. The play examines four graduating high school seniors’ reaction to a police shooting. Courtesy of Powerhouse Productions By Eric Peterson


How much real life mirrored the events of a script Proffit wrote last summer, well before the video of the Laquan McDonald was released in November. Still, Proffit stresses that the events in his play are different and distinct from any one particular shooting. The play will be performed at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27, at the Prairie Center for the Arts, 201 Schaumburg Court in Schaumburg. Tickets cost $25 in advance or $30 at the door. To order, visit

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Black History Month play focuses on women’s voices

2/20/2017 By Eric Peterson

The promotional poster for “Black Girl Magic,” the first act of Powerhouse Productions’ 2017 Black History Month play at Schaumburg’s Prairie Center for the Arts on Saturday. Courtesy of Powerhouse Productions By Eric Peterson

Though race relations are at the forefront of the national conversation, playwright and director Maurice D. Proffit became acutely aware that the voices and perspectives of women were not as prominently represented. So the challenge he set for his sixth Black History Month production at Schaumburg’s Prairie Center for the Arts was to redress the balance a bit with a show focused on that viewpoint.

“With this show, we’re celebrating women of color,” Proffit said of Saturday’s performance. “I felt this was the prime opportunity. It was a bit of a challenge because I’m a man. It challenged me to look outside my own borders.”

He talked much with his wife during the writing to capture the essentials of what women see and notice, as well as how they react differently to circumstances than men often do.

“There’s one segment of the show that talks about reality TV, and how much more profitable it is to exploit women than celebrate them,” he said.

This year, both acts of the show have individual titles. “Black Girl Magic” is set in 1999 and follows four teen girls on the South Side of Chicago.

After intermission, “She Means War” picks up their story as women in 2017. The first thing Proffit believes people should know about all his shows is the audience envisioned is one of all ages and backgrounds. Though the term “family friendly” might cause some to assume a certain amount of corniness, Proffit prefers to say “suitable for all ages.” “It’s definitely for everyone,” Proffit said. “It’s about things everyone needs to be privy to. I implore everyone to come out, check it out and have a great time. It’s something they’re going to remember for a long time.”

Writing something relevant and interesting to kids and adults isn’t the easiest thing to do, requiring a greater amount of creativity on his part, he said.

“My way of thinking is, I want to take the ideology of Snapchat — which holds your attention for 10 seconds, because the attention span today is so short — and apply it to a two-hour show. It makes a two-hour show feel like two minutes.”

One of the things the 35-year-old writer had some fun with was looking back at 1999 and making the references consistent with that time. And by setting the show in two different times, it allowed him to explore how much people change — and stay the same — throughout their lives.

“As much as everything changes, when you look back at yourself, you still see the parallels between yourself in high school and yourself today,” Proffit said.

One of the themes of the show is the amount of heroism it takes to overcome even personal challenges and how that parallels the battles of comic-book superheroes. One of Proffit’s female friends, who is very much into comic books, helped him make that connection in the show and apply it to the women who are his protagonists. “Black Girl Magic”/”She Means War” will be performed at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Prairie Center for the Arts, 201 Schaumburg Court in Schaumburg.

Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. To order in advance, call (847) 895-3600 or visit

Schaumburg troupe to stage Black History Month performance


Carmelita Edmonds of Hoffman Estates sings her solo song during a rehearsal for last year’s Black History Month performance. This year’s show will be at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23, at the Schaumburg Prairie Center for the Arts. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Soon-to-be high school graduates and anyone who knows them will relate to this year’s Black History Month performance by Powerhouse Productions, a Schaumburg-based theater group.

The show, titled “18 and Graduating,” will be at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23 at the Schaumburg Prairie Center of the Arts. Tickets are $20 in advance at the center, 201 Schaumburg Court, and online at or $25 at the door.

Powerhouse Productions founder and Executive Producer Valerie Profit said the show addresses the many pressures and decisions high school graduates face.

“It’s things that happen in all lives, regardless of color,” she said. “The whole premise of it, the message in this short script, is so very powerful.”

Profit said her son, Maurice “Dusti” Proffit, is directing the show this year and taking over Powerhouse Productions next year. She said he also wrote the script, which he found inspiration for through his memories of being 18 and graduating from Conant High School.

About 30 cast members have been rehearsing twice a week since the beginning of January, Profit said. Besides the show, there will also be a free panel of professionals discussing mental health related to kids and violence from 4 to 6 p.m., along with a preshow performance by a dance group at 6:30 p.m.

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‘Power Lies Among Youth’ this year’s Black History Month play


The cast of the play “Power Lies Among Youth,” presented by Powerhouse Productions at 7 p.m. Saturday at Prairie Center for the Arts. Courtesy of Powerhouse Productions

Powerhouse Productions will present its 18th annual Black History Month play at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28, at the Prairie Center for the Arts, 101 Schaumburg Court, Schaumburg.

“Power Lies Among Youth” is about a teen Sunday school class preparing for its annual black history performance. It was written by Dusti Proffit, a 1999 graduate of Conant High School who is now contracted for the Goodman Theatre as assistant director for August Wilson’s upcoming play “Two Trains Running.”

The play is part of an afternoon and evening of activities that will begin with a silent auction and marketplace at 4 p.m. Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority will offer free voter registration training at 4:30 p.m. in the lecture hall at the Prairie Center.

Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. For more information, call Powerhouse Productions at (847) 902-7508.

A preshow skit, written by Schaumburg resident Yvonne Griffin, will be performed. “I Remember Mama” is about a young lady who left the church and her grandmother passes.

Ladies she used to sing with in the choir are there to pay their respect they get to reminiscing about the old days when Grandma was alive. They start singing some of the old hymns together and it brings back so many wonderful memories, and ends with the granddaughter making a commitment to return to the church. Actors are Yvonne Griffin, Dorothy Knight, Del Joiner and Pam Larson, with Merv Pruitt accompanying them on the piano.

Assistant Director Lisa Miller is no stranger to Powerhouse Productions — she and her daughters have been on that stage the last four years.

Stage Manager Laticia Robinson is another mother who has been using her administrative skills for this production.

Assistant Producer Jarnett Dill is behind the silent auction. She sends out the letters, collects the donations and she and her crew, Sandra Cumberlander and Dorothy Brandon, make sure everything runs well. Tickets can be purchased from the Prairie Center box office or

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