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Well-earned rest: Don Jordan departs as Founding Artistic Director for Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre

Patrick B. McGuigan

There is risk in the life of every performance artist.

Sometimes that means actual physical danger (for instance, a performer who does his or her own ‘stunts’).

The greater risk is that the unavoidable artifice of an actor’s life – in an endless series of characters – can become more ‘real’ in his or her mind than … reality.

Don Jordan avoided that.

 In good times and in bad, in profitable years and not, the Founding Artistic Director of the Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre has remained – Don.

True man, True professional, a person of integrity and grit, combining appreciation for the diversity of personalities and beliefs in the world of American theatre with the steely and clear-eyed focus of a man of business.

A fine actor, he brought a depth of authenticity to every role – drama, comedy, and everything in between.

And he deftly guided others, young and old, as director in dozens of plays over the years.

This summer, a farewell was held. Even as the devastating worldwide Pandemic remains (but eases a bit), colleagues knew they had to say, in person, “thank you” – two words entirely inadequate to the depth of gratitude any person who cares about the life of the city (our city) owes to Don.

Brandy McDonnell of The Oklahoman wrote a solid farewell (“Taking a bow: Founding Artistic Director Donald Jordan retires from OKC Repertory Theatre”, September 19) about the gathering members and supporters of the local equity troupe held to bid him a safe journey home. I could not attend in person, but was there in spirit.

Her fine is report is commended to your attention. I most liked her distillation, evoking memories of hundreds of sports stories, “By The Numbers” –

24: Years Jordan ran OKC Rep.

86: Productions the theater staged in that time.

1,000+: Jobs OKC Rep created in that time.

50+: Productions Jordan acted in, designed and/or directed there.

20+: Co-productions between OKC Rep and other local theaters and nonprofits.

24: Costume changes undertaken by Jordan and co-star Jonathan Beck Reed in each performance of “A Tuna Christmas.”

600,000: Miles Jordan commuted between Dallas and OKC during his tenure.

In addition to his artistic acumen and ability, Jordan understands the importance of a free press in our democratic Republic.

Now he is deemed “Artistic Director Emeritus.” In truth, despite that “emeritus” word,everyone knows he will be remembered as first in our hearts as director, actor, manager, trustee and friend.

More can and will be said about Don Laurel Jordan – his personal decency and tolerance of a conservative friend, the depth of his personal (and complex) philosophy of life.

For now, the thoughts of this particular compadre turn to the journey we all share. That Odyssey was captured in the words of the great English writer/artist, Lord Alfred Tennyson:

“For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place

The flood may bear me far,

I hope to see my Pilot face to face

When I have crost the bar.”

I intend to see Don sooner, of course, and we can always chat over the phone.

Yet, with permanent things in mind, I hope to see our director face to face in an Eternal Home one day, but not soon.

Note: Patrick B. McGuigan reviewer of many CityRep performances in the last 15 years, had a few spats over temporal matters, and yet managed to work on many projects of mutual interest with Don Jordan.

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At the December 2016 opening night performance of “A Tuna Christmas” were, from left, business director Jon Haque, David Kolen from the Chicago office of the Actors’ Equity Association, performer Jonathan Beck Reed, director Steve Emerson and performer Don Jordan. Members received a commendation to members of the Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre, recognizing the local professional troupe’s 15th anniversary. Photograph by Patrick B. McGuigan
A (Not-so) Quiet Man: Don Jordan, in a brief moment of stillness, resting on his laurels. Photo from Jonathan Beck Reed’s Facebook page.
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