We are delighted to welcome Reginald L. Douglas, Studio Theatre’s new Associate Artistic Director. In this interview with Artistic Directing Apprentice Marielle Burt, Reginald discusses what drew him to Studio, work in the American theatre that inspires him, and his love for Washington, DC.
What drew you to Studio Theatre?
I've always admired Studio Theatre’s commitment to new plays and contemporary stories. I’m drawn to epic productions in intimate settings, so Studio’s work feels in line with my creative interests. I’m also a huge fan of DC—I lived here when I was studying at Georgetown and it’s wonderful to be back. I’m especially excited to be in DC now, and to be producing theatre in a city that's in the process of redevelopment. I hope to use art to bring together all the different communities in this city, particularly those who have not always felt welcome here. It’s honestly a dream job!
Before joining the Studio team, you served as the Artistic Producer for City Theatre Company in Pittsburgh. What are some of the lessons you learned at City?
I had a great time at City and in Pittsburgh. I am most proud of my commitment to engaging local artists, organizations, and communities that are often excluded from both theatre stages and audiences. I worked to bring local artists and marginalized communities to the forefront of our producing model at City, and I’m excited to continue this work at Studio. I want the talent onstage, behind the scenes, and in our offices to reflect the great diversity of the city. I’m ready to welcome people who may not have considered Studio Theatre a home to 14th and P and make sure that they see themselves reflected in every facet of the organization. That’s my hope, my call to action as an artist and a producer.
You lived in DC when you were studying at Georgetown University. How do you feel about returning to Washington?
I’m a native New Yorker, then I moved to DC for college, and I have worked all over since then, but even when I was living and working elsewhere, my heart still felt like it belonged in DC. There's something about the pulse of the city that really attracts me. It’s an exceptionally politically engaged city and there's a great diversity here in a compact space. This makes art feel urgent and visceral to audiences who are inherently tuned into the most vital social and political questions of our time. There's also a charm to the city—even with its fast-paced, urban energy, there's a warmth and strong sense of neighborhood identity and community here.
What excites you about the American Theatre at the moment?
I’m excited by the ways that the boxes of what certain artists are expected to create are collapsing. As an African American artist, I feel a greater freedom to tell stories that matter to me whether they're about Black people or not. I'm really interested in centering joy at the core of my work, and I’m inspired by the work of African American playwrights who are breaking out of the box of plays about trauma that the American Theatre once expected from them. I want to tell stories that are exuberant, joyful, and musical, without sacrificing strong themes and provocative questions. How do we find laughter, heart, and levity inside of a complicated and challenging world? This question is fueling my creative interests right now, and writers of all races and backgrounds are telling stories that offer an answer.
What is a recent project that you feel proud of?
I'm very proud of the production I directed of Pipeline by Dominique Morisseau at City Theatre last year and remain deeply inspired by that play. It feels like the universe is aligning as Pipeline is also the first show I’m watching as a staff member here at Studio. I’m inspired that my friends like Awoye [Timpo, Director of Studio’s Pipeline], Sarita [Fellows, Costume Fesigner of Studio’s Pipeline], and Bjorn [DuPaty, Xavier in Studio’s Pipeline] are working on a play that means so much to me at my new artistic home. It confirms that this job is the right fit for me.