Reginald Douglas, a D.C.-based director, producer and advocate dedicated to supporting newly created plays that connect audiences of diverse backgrounds and perspectives, doesn’t have to travel far to take on his newest assignment.
The former artistic producer at City Theatre in Pittsburgh and most recently, the associate artistic director at Studio Theatre in Northwest, recently traveled across town for the Mosaic Theater in Northeast where he has assumed the helm as the artistic director following an extensive nationwide search.
And he joins the Mosaic family as they welcome back audiences in person for the first time after more than a year, enduring the challenges that have come and still continue due to the ongoing pandemic.
Douglas, a graduate of Georgetown University where he’s also a member of the faculty, has long been recognized for his ability to develop and direct new and contemporary plays, musicals and multimedia works by both established and emerging writers including Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynn Nottage and MacArthur Fellow Dominique Morisseau. But he’s also established himself as the kind of director that helps young, eager students effectively learn the business of theater.
As he makes the transition to his new position, he said he cannot forget those who paved the way.
“It’s impossible to look at this moment in my career and not see it as a testament to those who came before me and knocked down doors,” said Douglas, a native New Yorker who said he loves walking the streets of the District, listening to all kinds of music and especially football.
“I consider this as a celebration for the entire community and an opportunity to pull up five more folding chairs for aspiring Blacks,” he said. “In many ways, I feel like I was born for this moment – one in which I can connect both my production and directorial experiences for the hard, urgent work which lies ahead. It’s truly a match made in heaven.”
Douglas has already begun planning for next season, determined, he says, to find ways to bring together the best of D.C. with the best of the nation in artistic partnerships. But he realizes that he must also focus on the current season which features an impressive assortment of talented playwrights.
“It’s great to work with the Mosaic team as we complete this year’s programming and it helps that I’m already familiar with and simply love the playwrights and directors who are represented in the current season,” he said.
Douglas has already turned his attention to Mosaic’s first play of the season – the world premiere of “Dear Mapel,” written by the talented Psalm 80 which serves as a personal reflection on Black fatherhood.
“It’s a perfect way to come back to live theater because it’s a new work which is heartfelt, honest, moving and which celebrates connections across generations as well as across time and space for which only the theater can allow and for the kind of required setting that only the theater can provide,” he said.
Still, he said he cannot help but be a bit anxious about what lies ahead, given the impact that the coronavirus has had on the theater industry in particular and the District, the nation and the world in general.
“Safety is our top priority for our artists and our audiences,” he said. “But the anxiety we feel isn’t that different from what others are experiencing. Humanity remains the key as we look to the future as we’re all pushing through this pandemic together.
“However, I believe that returning to the theater safely is a tremendous way to push through with stories that are entertaining, enlightening and which elevate our spirits as we seek to maneuver our way through this stressful period in history and in our own lives.”
“I am an eternal optimist and so for me, I’m buoyed by the challenges ahead while at the same time remaining focused on the opportunities that will certainly be revealed as the future unfolds,” Douglas said.