Reginald L. Douglas is the artistic producer of City Theatre in Pittsburgh, where he directs, develops, and line-produces bold new plays, and oversees artistic initiatives and partnerships. In addition, he directs extensively throughout the country, having directed at venues including the Eugene O’Neill Center’s National Playwrights Conference, Playwrights Center, McCarter Theatre, Luna Stage, Harlem Stage, Wild Project, Pershing Square Signature Center, Drama League, Rattlestick, Culture Project, Theater Row, BRIC Arts Media, and many others. He has received fellowships from New York Theater Workshop and The Lark and has assistant directed for several leading players in theeld on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and regionally. His directorial work has been hailed by The New York Times, The Village Voice, Talkin’ Broadway, The Star Ledger, and other leading publications. Upcoming projects include Girl Shakes Loose Her Skin (O’Neill National Music Theater Conference), Big Love (Point Park University), and Wild with Happy (City Theatre).
How does working on a play in development compare to working on a published script?
I love working on new plays! It is so exciting to be on the ground floor building and shaping a play with a writer. I love all of the discovery and "what if's" that lead a new play process. There is a sense of adventure and bravery in the room and that is quite thrilling and inspiring.
Do the directors/actors/designers need to have a different kind of skill set to work on a play in development (new pages everyday)?
I think patience, generosity, and curiosity are key for every director, but especially when working on new work. You're leading a group of collaborators into the unknown and that can be both thrilling and terrifying. I also believe that there must be a real respect for the work. I always say to my actors to that we're going to treat the text like Shakespeare. We will assume it is "perfect" until it isn't and then reshape and rework it to make it so. There is a lot of love and praise for the writer and the play in my rehearsal rooms. And you have to be organized - color code and date every new page and never throw away the old ones!
What is the relationship between a playwright and a director look like?
Every relationship and room is different, often dictated by both personalities and process. I am drawn to writers who are at once very open to feedback, but firmly know what their play is and isn't, or what it should be, what it is striving to be. That is an inspiring (and ideal!) collaborator. Amy and I are very much in sync about the play and have a deep respect and trust for one another so working together is easy. I also very purposefully make the writer a vocal part of the room. They know this play better than anyone so I am very much a sharer of the baton, especially during the early days of figuring out what this story and these characters really are.
How do you think the Arkansas New Play Fest compares to other new play development workshops that you have been part of in the past?
The festival is great! It is so exciting to have so much time to work on the play! To be able to do a presentation with an audience, and then have another week to work and rework the play, inspired by that feedback, is a really rare opportunity.
How do you personally like working in Arkansas?
I've been to Fayetteville before and it is a real gem of a town so I am very happy to be back. I could do with a little less heat, though. The 90 degree weather is not for me!