Ignore Don Jordan at the theatre? Not possible. Whether at Dallas’s intimate Margo Jones Theatre or its 2,200-seat Winspear Opera House, Jordan’s dark blue overalls signify his commitment to a working life in theatre. No soul is turned away from his companionable hug or handshake, offered while so humbly attired.
Though he’s now the artistic director of Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre, a.k.a. CityRep, Jordan’s career began in Dallas and he returns to the city frequently. The son of Salvation Army officers, Jordan gained perspective on service through performance. When his father wondered at his theatre career, he responded, “You and mom wore uniforms, stood onstage, sang, told stories, and tried to make the world a better place…This apple fell right under the tree.”
From the first play he saw, Milton Berle’s 1970 tour of Two By Two at Dallas Summer Musicals, he was entranced. He interned at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta and earned his MFA at Trinity University’s professional program, all along dreaming of founding his own theatre. In 1998 the dream came true, as he and an Oklahoma compatriot, Jonathan Beck Reed, founded CityRep.
Reed lauds his co-founder’s commitment and vision as the driving force behind CityRep’s success. “His commitment to community, artists, and audiences runs so deep that the weight of that responsibility, coupled with his vision, drives him daily to ‘find a way!’” Dallas Theater Center artistic director Kevin Moriarty calls Jordan “among the most generous, open-hearted theatremakers in the region. He remains hopeful, optimistic, and deeply committed to theatre’s power and possibility. It’s inspiring.”
Inspiring indeed: Via CityRep’s connections to Oklahoma City University, Jordan offers students a path. What does he tell them about the field they’re entering, in which he’s spent his entire professional life? “Be optimistic, be kind, work hard, work harder, work just a little harder still, be persistent, go see theatre often as you can, learn as much about all elements of our craft and art as you can, stay in touch with people you enjoy working with.” Jordan concludes: “Believe in great theatre’s power to change lives and the world!”
An earlier version of this story listed the University of Oklahoma as Jordan’s alma mater. He is a graduate of Oklahoma City University.