Resident Artist Ron OJ Parson was honored by the University of Chicago on January 15, 2019 with one of three prestigious Diversity Leadership Awards. Each year, The Diversity Leadership Council, in conversation with the University of Chicago Alumni Board, chooses a University faculty member, alumnus, and staff member to recognize for the role that they have played in promoting social justice and equity in America. This year, Ron was that staff member.
One of Ron’s greatest impacts at Court has been the Spotlight Reading Series, a citywide reading series in which Court presents rarely-produced classics by authors of color. In addition to expanding Court’s audience base, the Spotlight Reading Series has also brought together a diverse variety of community members across a spectrum of ethnicities and income levels. Not only was Ron instrumental in initiating the program, he has also directed several of the readings himself. Several of the Spotlight Reading plays from last year may even go on to full productions at other theatres in the next year.
Additionally, Ron has directed seven of the ten August Wilson Century Cycle plays at Court, which explore the black experience in 20th century America. The Chicago Tribune listed the most recent, Radio Golf, as one of the 10 best shows in Chicago Theatre last year. In addition to his work with August Wilson’s plays, some of Ron’s other Court productions include The Mountaintop by Katori Hall; Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett; Blues for an Alabama Sky by Pearl Cleage; Home by Samm-Art Williams; and Wait Until Dark by Frederick Knott. As Court’s Resident Artist, he will be directing again next season.
Ron and the other winners received their awards at a January 15 reception in addition to being honored during the University of Chicago’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration. We are so very grateful for his contributions to our theatre and community.
For more information about the University of Chicago’s Diversity Leadership Awards, visit the University of Chicago’s newsroom.