When Doug Williams took an American Playwrights class at Temple during his junior year in 2009, he discovered his passion for playwriting and decided to completely change his career path.
Williams, who graduated from Temple in 2012 with a major in film, now works as the resident playwright at Azuka Theatre in Rittenhouse Square. Williams’ first professional play, “Moon Cave,” premiered at Azuka Theatre on March 4, and ran until March 22. “Moon Cave” is about the start of relationships and things kept secret before entering into a relationship.
“I learned a lot about film at Temple, but when I started taking playwriting class through the theater program it made me decide to change courses,” Williams said. “I didn’t have a degree in theater at all but from taking those classes, I got an internship right out of college at Eugene O’Neill Theatre and then got asked to work at a theater in Manhattan.”
After living in New York City for two years, Williams moved back to Philadelphia to be closer to friends and immediately started getting familiar with the theater scene in Philly. He started writing plays and producing them on his own through Philly’s annual Fringe Festival.
“As I started getting to know the scene in Philly, I met Kevin Glaccum, the [producing] artistic director at Azuka,” Williams said. “I asked him to read my plays and he really liked them. I continued to send him my work and he became even more interested in my writing, and he asked if I wanted to be his resident playwright.”
“I met Doug through an actor we both know at a launch party and I asked him to send me some of his work to read,” Glaccum, a Temple alumnus, said. “I immediately found what I was looking for.”
Glaccum, who graduated with a degree in communications in 1983, became interested in theater while studying abroad at Temple London.
“I took a course in English theater with renowned critic Benedict Nightingale and saw 18 productions during that semester,” said Glaccum, who has been the producing artistic director at Azuka since 2004. “I had always liked theater, but it was that experience that sparked my desire to actually work in theater.”
Williams also credits Temple in influencing him to change his professional goals.
“While living in New York, I expected the theater scene to be better, but it was a different beast,” he said. “In Philly, it’s a very tight-knit and supportive group, most people know each other personally and go to each other’s shows. I wouldn’t be writing plays right now if it wasn’t for Temple.”
In “Moon Cave,” two characters named Richard and Rachel start to form a relationship after a one night stand. As the play goes on, the audience learns that Richard is hiding a secret from his past.
“The play is a metaphor for hiding certain parts about yourself when you first enter a relationship in fear of scaring off the other person,” Williams added.
Glaccum said all of Williams’ plays are about people on the fringes of society, who march to the beat of their own drum.
“Everything I’ve read of Doug’s has been something I could see us one day producing,” Glaccum said. “He’s an incredibly collaborative playwright.”
Williams said he encourages more students at Temple to go out and see shows in Philly.
“We’re lucky to live in a city with such incredible theater,” Williams said.
Chelsey Hamilton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.