Beyond the Stage

55 3Arts supporters
$6,450 raised of $5,000 goal
0 Days 0:00:00 LEFT
Funded on December 12, 2016
    • 129% contributed

“Beyond the Stage” is a pilot program aimed to introduce young people of color to the magic and possibilities of stagecraft: the technical and design elements behind theater productions. As a director and actor with more than 45 years working in theater, I know there is a distinct lack of diversity in these design fields. Through professional mentoring, workshops, and field trips conducted by me and my collaborators, we hope to bridge the gap that exists in this area for our young people looking to find new career paths. In this pilot program, we will focus mostly on scenic design, but also plan to introduce other elements including lights, sound, costuming, and more. With the money raised we will be able to provide materials, cover transportation, and invite guest artists to give workshops, all in a working environment to instill new skills and explore an area of theater that these young people may never have been exposed to before.

About This Project

For the past 45 years, I have been acting and directing in the theater. I started at age 17 in Buffalo, New York, and have seen much and seek to learn more. One of my immediate goals is to inspire young artists of color here in Chicago, which has been my home for the past 22 years.

I can share candidly that of the 100+ productions I have been associated with, only two have had a design team that is racially and culturally diverse. Not only are there career opportunities in this field, but the stories we tell on our stages will be better and truer when there are diverse perspectives making decisions behind the scenes.

These thoughts helped me and my colleague, Dorian Sylvain (scenic designer and artist), conceive this project. Beginning with a pilot stage at first, we plan to recruit three to four young artists and orient them to the field of scenic design, while also exposing them to other elements of stagecraft. With the money raised, we will provide a comprehensive experience that involves reading materials, field trips to theater productions, and guest artist workshops. We will take advantage of our relationships within the Chicago theater community to offer hands-on experience in rehearsals, production meetings, and more. Our collaborators will include scenic designers Linda Buchanan, Regina Garcia, and Jack Magaw; sound designer Joshua Horvath; lighting designers Jared Gooding and Kathy Perkins; and costume designer Christine Pascual. An important part of our project is to make sure students gain mentorship by professional artists of color who are actively working in these fields.

Students of “Beyond the Stage” will become immersed in the magic of theater, gaining an understanding of the entire process and culminating with an outing to an opening night experience. This pilot is our first step in a program that we hope could develop into something more, focusing on other elements of stagecraft and leading to educational partnerships. For instance, our future vision sees institutions such as DePaul, Northwestern, UIC, and Columbia College embracing this concept and helping more students find a career path in theater design and management, possibly offering grants, fellowships, and scholarships.

We want to “pay it forward” and pass this knowledge to the next generation, with the hope that they too will do the same. There is a lot of untapped talent, and with this project, we are committed to finding it and helping it flourish. We hope to spark a fire in some young people and help to open doors. Even if a student discovers this isn't the path for them, I believe the experience itself will affect them and their futures.

Thank you for the time you have taken to read about “Beyond the Stage.” Hopefully, you will commit to helping in some manner. We need your moral support and your financial support as we begin this journey. As we all know, "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Please take your first step with us, and become a supporter of “Beyond the Stage!”

Thank yous

Contribute any amount or choose from the levels below.

  • $25
    Personal shout-out via social media ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $50
    Above, plus your name acknowledged in our program brochures ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $100
    All of the above, plus a signed poster for “Beyond the Stage” ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $200
    All of the above, plus an invitation to a rehearsal of a production directed by Ron OJ Parson ($0.00 is tax deductible.)

Ron OJ Parson

Make a Wave Artist

Ron OJ Parson is an actor and director originally from Buffalo, New York and a graduate of the University of Michigan’s professional theater program. He is a resident artist at Court Theatre and former co-founder and artistic director of Onyx …

View Ron OJ Parson's profile
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    • Thank you to the following for contributing to 3Arts with the recommendation that we support this project.

    • Alysia Eggerman

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    • Greg Hofmann

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 Additional support provided by: 

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