Noted theatrical LD Chris Parry has become a US citizen. Born in Manchester, England, the designer has been a California resident for over a decade, teaching at the University of California, San Diego and pursuing a design career on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Now he calls the US officially “home”.
The decision, he says, “has been in the back of my mind ever since I first arrived here in 1989 on an `Exchange Scholar' visa to teach at UCSD. That was valid for three years. During that time, UCSD managed to get me a Green Card,” a document which gave the LD ‘Resident Alien’ status. “I always thought I would do it at some point” he adds, referring to the citizenship process. “I felt right from the start that the US would eventually be the place I called home.” Also, over the years, he says, travel between the US and Europe became an increasingly complicated affair:“ Coming back into the US is a pain in the backside if you’re not a US citizen already. Long INS lines, and I got tired of all the questions, things like `Do you really live in the US?’, and I always seem to look guilty!” Finally, realizing that he didn’t intend to return to England to live, he filed for citizenship in 1998.
The process included FBI background checks, being fingerprinted, and a personal interview, “to see how much you know about American history and the Constitution,” he adds. Finally, after a few bureaucratic glitches, including the INS misplacing his file, Parry was sworn in on December 19, 2002. “It was done with 820 other people, a very personal ceremony,” he says wryly, adding that it was “a big relief” to come to the end of the long and drawn-out four year process.
Parry has been a familiar name in the American theatre since he was nominated for a Tony Award in 1987 for the Royal Shakespeare Company production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses on Broadway. He also designed the hit musical The Who’s Tommy, for which he finally won the Tony Award. More recent productions have included Not About Nightingales (Royal National Theatre/Broadway) and another Tony Award nomination, The Secret Garden (Royal Shakespeare Company/West End), The Beard of Avon (South Coast Repertory), A Little Night Music (5th Avenue Musical Theatre, Seattle), House and Garden (Alley Theatre), Tartuffe (La Jolla Playhouse), Fuddy Meers (A Contemporary Theatre, Seattle). Coming up are Suddenly Last Summer at Berkeley Repertory Theatre and Hamlet at the Alley Theatre. He also juggles a full teaching schedule at UCSD . Parry lives in Beverly Hills, CA, with his partner Elgin.