Temple Theaters names Wager artistic director
Award-winning theater veteran Douglas C. Wager, who built a national reputation during his 25-season tenure at Washington, D.C.’s prestigious Arena Stage, has been named artistic director of Temple Theaters.
“We are thrilled that Doug will be bringing his wealth of experience and his extraordinary talent to Temple Theaters’ productions,” said Concetta Stewart, dean of the School of Communications and Theater. “His contributions since joining the theater faculty last year have enriched the education and training of our theater students. Now Doug’s artistic vision will infuse our onstage productions, and our students as well as Temple Theaters’ audiences will reap the bounty of his consummate professionalism.”
Wager joined the faculty of Temple’s theater department as associate professor last year, capping a professional career that spanned three decades directing on and off Broadway and at major regional theaters across the country, including The Mark Taper Forum, The Guthrie Theater, Pasadena Playhouse and Yale Repertory Theater. Best known as the Arena Stage’s artistic director (1991–1998), he began his career there as an intern in 1974, then went on to work on some 200 productions, garnering 14 nominations and three Helen Hayes Awards for outstanding direction.
“It is both my pleasure and my privilege to serve as the newly appointed artistic director for Temple Theaters,” Wager said. I look forward to having the opportunity to apply my three decades of professional experience as both a director and a producer to the noble and challenging task of educating and inspiring a new generation of theater artists and audiences.
“It is my hope that Temple Theaters’ productions awaken and encourage a lifelong love of living theater in our students, our faculty and our expanding community audience.”
As artistic director for Temple Theaters, Wager is charged with planning the roster of productions for the season and overseeing the creative teams as executive producer for each play. He will also serve as the artistic spokesperson, representing the theater department and its work onstage.
In a university setting, designing a theater season is something Wager likens to a 3-D game of chess. “Beyond considering the point of view of the expanded community and creating an entertaining season of theater, we have to decide what will best serve our undergraduate students, both on and offstage, and our M.F.A. actors and designers and directing students.
“And there are of course the usual factors of budget and human resources — what can we afford to do and for how many performances — and at Temple, it’s important that the work speak to our diverse student body, both within the department and the university at large.
“Meeting these challenges is made easier by the accomplished and dedicated professional faculty and staff and the gifted students in our theater program.”
Wager will continue to teach classes in directing and creativity in the theater. He directed the Philadelphia premiere of Alan Aykbourn’s Taking Steps for Temple Theaters’ 2004–2005 season. He will direct the Temple Theaters production of the Tom Stoppard comedy On the Razzle in the upcoming season and will direct the season opener, Joe Orton’s Loot for the Arden Theater Company. Additionally, this fall he will return to the Washington, D.C., theater scene to direct the Shakespeare Theatre’s production of The Comedy of Errors.
For the 2003-2004 season as director in residence at Philadelphia’s Prince Music Theater, he directed the Barrymore-nominated It Ain’t Nothin’ But The Blues, and the world premiere of the late Cy Coleman’s The Great Ostrovsky, which received 10 Barrymore Award nominations, including one for Best Director. Last season at the Prince, he directed the world premiere of Gemini, the Musical by former Temple student Albert Inaurauto.
Before joining the Prince in 2003, he spent several seasons working in Los Angeles directing, writing and producing for film and television.
His teaching background includes guest assignments at the nation’s leading professional theater training programs, most recently at the University of California–San Diego. Other university appointments have included the New York University Graduate Acting Program and the Colorado College Summer Theater Institute.
- By Harriet Goodheart