“In a new house, in a new place, if you change / Keep moving, keep moving,” goes a single by the band Jungle. Reginald Douglas has kept the song, “Keep Moving,” on repeat during early 2022 and seeing what draws the 35-year-old theatremaker to it is easy. Since graduating from Georgetown in 2009, he has directed or produced over 70 productions from Arkansas to Connecticut and back. In the last five months alone he’s directed two shows and produced a third, left one job and started another.
“It’s been a busy fall and winter, to say the least,” Douglas shares. “It’s been exhausting and exhilarating at the same time.”
Now, as Mosaic Theater’s second-ever artistic director and after posts at Pittsburgh’s City Theatre and D.C.’s Studio Theatre, Douglas is ready to keep the District’s culture moving toward greater access, engagement and representation for everyone who calls the DMV home.
District Fray: You once said D.C. moved at a “speed I love.” What speed is that?
Reginald Douglas: I’m a native New Yorker, so it’s in my blood to move fast and be on-the-go. What I love about D.C. is that urgency exists, but the city is small enough it feels balanced. There’s breathing room here. We can work really hard and also with a smile and laughter, I feel. I also love that D.C. is an inherently political city. There are people who care about the country and the world we live in here. There’s no better city in which to do the kind of work I want than a city where the personal is political no matter how you slice it.
What excites you most about D.C. theatre right now?
I see a city full of amazing leaders deepening the visions of their organizations who are committed to collaboration, not competition: Karen Ann Daniels at Folger; Matt Gardiner at Signature; Maria Manuela Goyanes at Woolly; Raymond O. Caldwell at Theater Alliance; Ryan Rilette at Round House; Adam Immerwahr at Theater J; the list goes on. These are leaders who think about leadership as an act of service, who think about the arts as an act of service, not to ourselves but to our communities. We are interested in building a culture that represents D.C., an internationally diverse city with a complicated history. I also love that so many of our leaders are committed to new work. D.C. can be a home for bold new plays about the American experience. What’s local here has national impact.
What are the opportunities you see for D.C. theatre to meet this moment?
For a theatre producer who wants to bring people of different backgrounds into the same room to experience a truth about our lives, there’s an odd opportunity. People are hungry for conversation because they have felt displaced, under-recognized, disrespected, undervalued and unheard. We’re able to use theatre to be the container of those conversations and ideally a brave space for those conversations to get activated. There are days when I wish the conversations didn’t have to happen with the backdrop of such rampant pain and fear and rage, but I remain committed to finding an urgent, joyful, hope-filled response through art.
How does an arts organization do that?
The commitment is to transcending transactions. The opportunity to engage with all of our community, meaning all races, backgrounds, classes, wards and neighborhoods is bigger than a group sale, bigger than eight shows a week. That mission does not have a price tag on it. We are the people who believe theatre can ignite social change. We are the shapers of culture and we have the opportunity to create culture that represents all of us as valuable and valid. That’s what the arts do. We write into existence who we are and who we imagine ourselves to be now and for the future. Our job is to deepen people’s understanding about their neighbors. That has very little to do with Tuesdays at 8 p.m.
Favorite D.C. place
Georgetown Waterfront. During the pandemic, I would walk down there almost every other day to get some fresh air and take in the gorgeous view of the Kennedy Center lit up at night.
Favorite post-show spot
I haven’t found my perfect post-show place yet, but my go-to hang is Annie’s on 17th.
Favorite D.C. team
The Georgetown Hoyas. We still count and we’re coming back.
Early to bed or late to rise
I’m a real theatre person, so I’m a night owl.
Coffee or tea
During rehearsal, a red eye with three Splendas. Outside of that, coffee with half and half and Splenda. Or a peppermint mocha. Or iced coffee, sweetened.
Play that changed your life
Lorraine Hansberry’s “To Be Young, Gifted and Black.” Period.
Somewhere with some water, sunshine and a good bartender.
Mosaic Theater is currently preparing for their upcoming show “Private” which opens March 23 and runs through April 17. To learn more about the show and get tickets, visit here.
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