Hello, Azuka friends and family —
I hope you’ve been enjoying your summers and, of course, your behind-the-scenes look at the playwrights that make up Azuka’s writers group New Pages. Today we’re hearing from another playwright who’s no stranger to Azuka — in fact, he’s our Playwright-in-Residence, having premiered 2017’s SHITHEADS, 2015’s MOON CAVE, and this upcoming season’s SHIP! So let’s set sail on Doug’s journey…
Geographically, where did you start out, and where are you now? “I grew up all around the country. In Indiana, Texas, Florida, Connecticut - my family moved 10 times before I was 13 years old. It was hard as a kid but I really do feel like it's influenced my writing a lot, now that I'm older. Meeting all those people and living in different regions teaches you a lot and gives you plenty of fodder for writing later on. I've lived in Philly actually longer than any place I've ever lived, so I feel like I can officially dub it my adopted hometown.”
Tell us about your writing history, both personal and professional. “I grew up acting in plays when I was little and then shifted to making movies as a teenager. I went to Temple to study film and was writing screenplays basically just so I had something to film. I wasn't like actively interested in the writing, I wanted to be a director. But through my time at Temple, after taking a class with Ed Sobel that really changed my life, I randomly wrote a play just to try it out and had a blast. The plays I was seeing and reading felt much more daring than the film I was watching so I switched. I moved to New York for two years after graduating from Temple and saw a play or reading just about every other day. That was incredibly formative for me. When I moved back to Philly I was writing a lot of solo shows with Andrew Carroll which taught me so much about working with an actor and actually putting something in front of an audience. Then slowly I started to get more fringe shows and full length plays under my belt and get a few productions up on their feet.”
What have you been working on in New Pages. Why do you think a group like New Pages is important?
“So I have a production coming up at Azuka called SHIP which I am so extremely fucking excited for, but I actually haven't been bringing that into New Pages very much. I'm happy with where it's at right now and don't wanna futz with it too much before we start rehearsals. What I've mostly been working on this year is a play called I LIVE YOU [AUTOCORRECT] which is about these two weirdos trying to start their own digital detox camp and their first two campers who come to try it out. Hopefully one day it will be funny and also kind of dissect how we use technology - how wellness fits into all that. It's way too long right now because there's so much I want to say about how technology functions in our lives. New Pages has been an incredible resource in trying to find the play's focus.
Generally, New Pages has really changed the way I write. Being a playwright can be lonely because 97% of our time working is spent alone in a room just trying to work through ideas and put them on paper. Having a community of writers come together, read and talk about your work makes my shit so much better! It just does. It really accelerates my process. It obviously helps that the other writers in the group are fucking fantastic. I really look up to all of them and having them in the room when I'm bringing in my rough pages is incredible. There's nothing else like it.”
Thank you, Doug! We are extremely excited for SHIP too. You can find out more about Doug’s work at douglaswilliamsplaywright.com, AND — you can already reserve your tickets for SHIP (February 26 - March 15, 2020) or a whole Pay What You Decide season package now!
And as always, check back next week for another highlight (or check out Wednesday’s Azuka Extra on what it means to be a member of our Producers Circle!). It’s August, meaning we only have a few more playwrights left — but last is certainly not least. Happy weekend!