Fall has been a good season for Studio Theater’s Associate Artistic Director Reginald Douglas. As he is directing White Noise, now in rehearsal at the Northwest, Washington, DC playhouse, across town in Northeast, Washington, Mosaic Theater named him Artistic Director. The distance between being the Associated Artistic Director and the Artistic Director is like “going from Kamala to Barack,” he laughed.
As one of the few Blacks in the nation at the helm of a theater company, Douglas will be responsible for what happens with the ship from raising money and show selections to hiring actors and designers. He describes his new role as “the intersection of the business side and the creative side.” He continued, “I love the rehearsal room and I also love the board room.”
While many are often focused on the most visible, actors on stage, Douglas has filled the shoes of many off stage performers. He has dramaturged, developed, and produced over 75 plays, musicals, and multimedia projects. As dramaturg, he says, he “asks why,” whereas as director he “ask why and how.”
In a more practical sense, as dramaturg, the Georgetown University graduate says it was his responsibility to research many issues related to a play to be able to answer or justify why something is presented. So, for instance, the performance wouldn’t have a 1950s car in a play set in 1960 or that it will have “the perfect kind of phone for that time period.”
Not only is his recent self-proclaimed “title bump” an anomaly, so is having Blacks in the dramaturg and many other off-stage positions - - even in shows with an all-Black cast. “I encourage audiences of all races to think deeply (and ask) if the theater company (they support) is living the values in how they hire and who they hire,” added Douglas.
For Douglas, “inclusion and diversity are non-negotiable.” Those objectives and those of Mosaic Theater intersect.
His new theater home prides itself at making the company “a model of diversity and inclusion at every stratum, on stage and off.” Upon hiring Douglas, Serge Seiden, Managing Director, said “Our goal during the search was to find an Artistic Director whose vision not only aligns with our mission, but also will help to take us to the next level.”
The first show opening in 2022, Dear Maple (Wed, Jan 19 – Sun, Feb 13, 2022), has a Black playwright, Psalmayene 24, and an Asian director, Natsu Onoda Power. The planned live performances will present a personal story about the writer growing up in Brooklyn, losing his virginity, and reconnecting with a loved one who has passed, through a series of letters both real and imagined. Douglas added that unlike online performances, he is looking forward to in-person shows “where you can share that collective laugh . . . as a community.”
As Winter takes hold, he is looking forward to his new leading role at Mosaic. Until then, Douglas will be comfortably behind the curtain calls across town and at another production in Pittsburgh, where he is currently working. “I have a good suitcase,” he quips.
Douglas on Port Of Harlem Talk Radio
So often when we read or talk about theater, we talk about what is most visible, the actors. With Douglass, in a 30-minute conversation, we talked about his past and current theater jobs to get a better understanding of the many efforts that go into making what we see on stage and what is to come at Mosaic Theater.