Douglas Williams is a Silver Award Winner from the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts. His plays include The Death and Life of Uncle Gene, Shitheads, and Now I am a Wrecking Ball, which is being developed with the support of Wide Eyed Productions. His play P.E. was published in the March issue of The Inciting Incident. He lives in
Brooklyn with his girlfriend, Sarah.
- Your play Now I am a Wrecking Ball will be performed as a part of our Dark Nights series this week at the Richmond Shepard Theatre (Thursday, May 17 @ 6pm - see Facebook). Can you tell us about what inspired it?
I think it’s interesting when people get to be a part of documenting someone’s life, especially an artist--the way they can sort of glorify everything they did. There is a great documentary about Stanley Kubrick called A Life In Pictures. It’s basically three hours of everyone discussing and dissecting his genius. I love Stanley Kubrick's work and I do think he was a genius, but while he was filming The Shining he was a real jerk to Shelley Duval. They have footage of it. Years later, in this documentary about Kubrick, Shelley Duval goes into how it was just a part of his process, how it was just a part of who he was a director. She totally lets him off the hook. I think that kind of thing happens pretty often in these sort of retrospective programs. So I wanted to look at that. Sort of glorifying someone who wasn’t that great of a person.
- You are part of Wide Eyed’s very first Apprentice Playwrights Program. Can you tell us a little bit about what the process has been like?
It’s been great. It’s the first writers group I’ve been a part of and I’m really so proud of the work everyone’s been doing. It’s pushed me to finish this play, I don’t think it would have gotten written otherwise so I’ll always be thankful for that. If anything, I think the program is too short. I wish I could continue on with this group for another year or so.
- When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? What made you start writing plays?
Well I grew up making films so I never really thought of myself as solely a writer, I just wrote screenplays so that I could film them. When I was at
, I took this incredible class with Ed Sobel called American Playwrights. We read plays like True West and Topdog / Underdog. I remember realizing how dangerous theatre can be, in a way that film wasn't for me at the time. I wrote a play that semester that was really bad, but that was sort of how it started. Temple
- Who or what has been your biggest influence as a writer? What inspires you to get to the page?
There are lots of people who inspire me and not all of them are writers. The things that inspire me directly are my friends, my family, my girlfriend, things that happen to me, things I see. Writing is fun because it makes you pay more attention to things. You can see something and store it away. It’s not like, “Oh I am now being inspired;” it’s a lot more fun than that.
- In terms of your creative process, do you have a particular ritual when it comes to writing? If so, can you share it with us?
Not really. I try to write at least two pages everyday and when I get that free time always fluctuates. I like to write at night. During the day I feel like I should be outside or paying bills or cleaning my apartment. At night everything kind of calms down, I can sit down and focus a little more.
- Can you tell us about any other projects you’re working on right now?
I'm working on a one-act called The They Committee for the theatre company I grew up with. The Stonington Players do this one-act festival every year, and I always try to write one for it. It's fun because they like big casts because they have so many people eager to be a part of the festival--it gives me a chance to write in a different style. I'm also working on two other full lengths at the moment. After this reading I'm planning on stepping away from the project for a little while and then coming back to it with fresh eyes in a few weeks. It's been a long process but there is still a lot of work I plan on putting into the play.