Theatre and Performance Studies Alumni Reginald Douglas (C’09) and Alexandra Templer (C’15) Return to Campus Teach in Department
Posted in News Story | Tagged African American Studies, Alumni, English, Faculty, Performing Arts, Psychology
After graduating from Georgetown College, alumni Reginald Douglas (C’09) and Alexandra Templer (C’15) pursued their passions in directing and acting. Now they have returned to campus to share their knowledge and life experiences with current students.
“It’s exciting on numerous levels to be able to bring back Reg and Alex as instructors,” says Derek Goldman, chair of the Department of Performing Arts. “As faculty of course we have indelible memories of meeting both of them for the first time and of their own work in these very courses. What’s really thrilling is that our current students now not only have the gifts of their experience and their brilliant pedagogy but to witness firsthand a generational line to alums who are working at the top of their fields and to be able to engage them about their journey”.
A Passion for Performance
Like many students, Douglas first came to Georgetown hoping to study politics and planned on lobbying for education reform and community development after graduation.
While at the university, Douglas became active in the College Democrats club on campus and
eventually got internships on the Hill and at an education lobbying firm. Though he had landed his “dream job,” Douglas said the experiences felt “impersonal and unfulfilling.”
“I wanted to find a more hands-on way to approach these ideas and reach diverse communities,” Douglas says. “When I took a course called Political Theater, the light bulb went off – I could use my love of theater to ignite conversations and empathy in the community and I never looked back.”
Douglas ultimately declared a double major in English and Theatre and Performance Studies with a minor in African American Studies. He participated in a production for Big Love — a multiracial collaborative staging directed by Maya Roth, artistic director for the Davis Center for Performing Arts. It was here that he discovered that directing was his passion.
“It was clear that he had a calling: to make theater that charts space for difference, incubates creative development and fosters socially engaged reflective engagement,” says Roth. Across his course and creative work, Reg brought extraordinary charisma, interdisciplinary questions, candor and great talent, which inspired peers and faculty alike.”
Similarly to Douglas, Templer did not come to Georgetown expecting to pursue a career in acting. A psychology major with a focus in neuroscience and a minor in performing arts, Templer was a student who was deeply inquisitive about the world.
“I am and was less interested in being an ‘actor’ than I am just being a human with an appetite for life and curiosity about the way we experience it,” Templer explains. “My interests have, at times, felt like divergences from the acting world. I have worked on political campaigns, studied neuroscience, joined a Buddist sangha and became a founding member of an anti-capitalist theatre company. But, all of these things — politics, philosophy, psychology, science, and art — are just other ways of grappling with essentially the same questions. Georgetown taught me the worthiness of asking those questions.”
While on campus, Templer worked under both Roth and Goldman on a broad range of plays including Far Away, Trojan Barbie, Hamlet and Slow Falling Bird. During her senior year, she did an original solo performance featured at Lav Grad, which, according to Roth “artfully framed the necessity of queer identity and rights.”
“Alex made a big impression on me as a prospective — she gravitated to projects with global stakes because she wanted to grow her toolkit and worldview simultaneously,” says Roth. “A consummate artist, Alex has a magnetic depth of connection to theater-making and, too, to the kind of theater labs that we foreground in TPST: socially engaged, boldly multidisciplinary and pluralist.”
From Mentee to Mentor
After graduating, Douglas pursued his passion for theatre, going on to direct and produce over 70 new and contemporary plays, musicals, and multimedia projects by noteworthy playwrights. Throughout his career, Reginald has integrated equity, diversity, inclusion, community engagement and education into all of his work.
Likewise, Templer continued her career as an actor, receiving her MFA from NYU Graduate Acting in 2018 and spending summers working professionally at Williamstown Theater Festival. After graduating, Templer appeared in a variety of New York theater productions and landed her first film and television roles, starring in When They See US (2019,) What Doesn’t Float (2020) and We Crashed (post prod.)
Both alumni are applying their skill sets to the courses they are instructing this fall and emphasized that the mentors they had at the university helped to shape them as artists and individuals.
“I was very blessed to have fulfilling relationships with many professors at the university including Derek Goldman who remains a constant mentor, colleague and friend and who encouraged me to come back home to the Hilltop and teach this semester,” says Douglas. “Natsu Onoda Power, Maya Roth, Nadine George-Graves, Susan Lynsey Karen Berman and Ted Parker were also core to my experience here. Dr. Angelyn Mitchell, who led the African American Studies program and taught me in several English courses, was a guiding force and source of inspiration for me.”
Templer says that Goldman, Roth, Natsu Onoda Power, and Susan Lynskey are “collectively probably the reason I do this at all”.
“They made theater something other than entertainment, they made it engagement with the socio-political world,” Templer explains. “My teachers, who became steady and consistent mentors for me over the following 6 years of my career, taught me that the mind could be of use, could be directed outward to make not just good theatre, but smart theatre that says something about the world.”
This academic year, the Theatre and Performance Studies Program and Davis Center will celebrate its “Sweet Sixteen.” Goldman says that the program looks forward to welcoming other illustrious alumni of the program to campus.
“It’s gratifying for us as a relatively young program to take stock of the impact that so many alumni are having in and beyond our field — and to be able to invite them back to connect deeply with students,” he says. “They each in their own way have been blazing a trail that embodies the deepest values of our program — innovative artistry engaged with social change and the greater good, leadership and vision and collaboration at the highest level.”
More About Douglas and Templer
Douglas currently serves as the associate artistic director at Studio Theatre in Washington, DC. While there, Douglas commissioned creative projects centering Black artists and voices in response to Juneteenth, the March on Washington and the ongoing fight for racial justice. Douglas also piloted a series called “Restorative Relationships” that were conversations with local BIPOC community leaders and the theatre. The director also supervised the painting of public murals and the opening of Studio’s lobby to marchers in support of the Black Lives Matter protests of Summer 2020.
Last year, Douglas was named the recipient of the National Theatre Conference’s Emerging Professional Award.
In addition to teaching at Georgetown, he also guest lectures in directing and producing at the O’Neill’s National Theatre Institute. He has previously taught at the New School, Carnegie Mellon University, Boston University, University of Missouri at Kansas City, Point Park University, and the University of Pittsburgh.
Templer has taught acting at summer intensives for Williamstown Theater festival where she worked for two sequential seasons. In 2018, Templer appeared in Tony award winner Rachel Chavkin’s world premiere musical Lempicka. Immediately following, she would go on to play Trisha Meili in Ava Duvernay’s Netflix series “When They See Us.”
In 2019, Templer starred in director David McCallum’s production of Cymbeline for Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. She is a member of Society Theater company in New York and has worked for New Ohio Theatre, the Public and the 24 Hour Play Festivals. Templer is currently in development for a new play about themes of spirituality and “wellness” with Society Theatre Co.
-by Shelby Roller (G’19)