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Ron OJ Parson is the Chicago Tribune’s 2022 Chicagoan of the Year for Theater

A man in a black turtleneck and black hat stands against a gray brick wall.
Ron OJ Parson

Ron OJ Parson has had a banner year. A few weeks ago, he received the 2022 Zelda Fichandler Award from the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation and today, he was recognized as the Chicago Tribune‘s Chicagoan of the Year for Theatre

Ron OJ Parson’s contributions to the Chicago theatre community are innumerable. As Resident Artist at Court, he has played a central role in what redefining classic theatre is and can be, in part through the Spotlight Reading Series.

The goal of the Spotlight Reading Series is to introduce more Chicagoans to rarely-produced playwrights of color and their work, and Ron OJ Parson curated the series for years. The Spotlight Reading Series builds community connections beyond our mainstage productions with neighborhood-based cultural institutions, nonprofits, and civic groups who often host our readings, and all performances are free and open to the public.

Whether it be through the Spotlight Reading Series or his keen directorial eye, Ron’s impact is profound. In fact, Chicago Tribune‘s Chris Jones described Ron’s recent production of Two Trains Running as: “a live-wire revival at Court Theatre, the Hyde Park theater that just happened to win the Tony Award for excellence in regional theater around that time. Parson has been associate artist at Court for years and has done more than any other single individual to remind all of the South Side of Chicago that it has a world-class theater in its midst.” 

Ron most recently directed Court Theatre’s production of Arsenic and Old Lace. Other past productions include Two Trains RunningFencesGem of the Ocean, Seven GuitarsMa Rainey’s Black BottomThe Piano Lessonand Jitney by August Wilson; The Mountaintop by Katori Hall; and Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, among many others. Ron is the former co-founder and artistic director of the Onyx Theatre Ensemble, and co-founder of the Beyond the Stage Theatre Project. He is also a company member of TimeLine Theatre, and associate artist at Writers Theatre and Teatro Vista.

While he describes himself as simply “a Chicago director and actor,” we think Ron is much more. He’s a visionary. He’s a warm and generous presence, both inside and outside of the rehearsal room. And now, he’s the Chicagoan of the Year for Theater.

We are incredibly fortunate that Ron OJ Parson is Resident Artist at Court Theatre. Please join us in celebrating Ron, and wishing him a heartfelt congratulations!

Posted on December 21, 2022 in Theatre News

9 responses on “Ron OJ Parson is the Chicago Tribune’s 2022 Chicagoan of the Year for Theater”

  1. James F Ingalls says:

    Bravo Ron!

    With all best wishes,
    Jim Ingalls

  2. Martha Van Haitsma says:

    Well done! It is great to see your talent and contributions being honored – again! Congratulations!

  3. Bill & Marcia McInerney says:

    Congratulations! An honor well deserved. My wife and I began our relationship with August Wilson in 2000. We saw “Two Trains Running” in Cleveland (as well as last year’s production at The Court) and were hooked. While we are not “bucket list” people, we launched what turned out to be a 22 year quest to complete the 10 play cycle in November. We chased the cycle through Cleveland, Chicago, Cincinnati, Ann Arbor, NYC, D.C. and Boston. Five of these productions (4 @ Court and Radio Golf in Cincy) were under your capable direction. August Wilson is a giant of American theater. You have further burnished his legacy in assembling stellar casts and directing them in riveting performances of his work. Thank you.

  4. Paulette Pennington Jones says:

    Brother Ron O.J. Parsons,
    Hat 🎩 off, or hat 🧢 on, to a Black man exuding excellence. Don’t stop bringing the best.
    Black love & feeling,
    Paulette Pennington Jones

  5. Kathie House says:

    Congrats Mr. Pardon/Ron,
    Your salutations are well deserved. You are mastering your craft using the legacies of those who’ve taught you, mentored you, doubted you, supported you with encouragement, criticism, and love; you’ve been true to yourself and your craft’s legacy. May you keep on, keepin’ on.
    Kathie Eiyah House

  6. D. Kucha Brownlee says:

    Congratulations! This award is certainly deserved.

  7. Kathy Anne Perkins says:

    Congratulations Ron!

  8. Public appreciation of what you love to do–does it get any better than that? Thanks for all the insight and empathic creativity you share.

  9. Paula Anglin says:

    Bravo!! Congratulations! well deserved!

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