Doug Ward: An Update
On October 11, 2011 The Lorraine Hansberry Theatre in San Francisco opened their new season with a handsomely produced, multicultural, multi generational update of Doug’s one act play Day of Absence, directed by the company’s new Artistic Director Steven Anthony Jones. This conceptual rendition of the play includes rap, hip-hop along with several other aspects of contemporary verbal and musical means of expression illustrates the fact that Doug’s award winning satire about race relations is as relevant now as it was fifty years ago when it was first produced.
Doug was flown in for the opening and spent a week in the city attending talk backs with the audience after the show, catching up with friends and seeing the sights. This was the first time he’s travelled any appreciable distance since his operation. He says he felt no ill effects whatsoever. This was also the first time he’s been to San Francisco sine the Soldier’s Play tour in 1984. So the way it looks things are getting back to normal for him.
I went to San Francisco to see the production and to meet up with Doug. We spent several days together doing what we always do, walk, talk, eat and just sit around looking at the world going by. We talked about several projects he is on the verge of getting back to, particularly a collection of 3 one act plays by him that I am currently preparing for publication. The collective title is The Tom Azz Plays. The individual titles are Clarence X-Rated, Clarence Updated and The Redeemer.
Two weeks ago I spoke to him on the phone for about an hour. He tells me that he’s now cooking his food and is eating a lot better. That’s good news to those of us who have been worried about how thin he’s gotten. I ask as I always do about what he was working on. He says that he is once again looking at his single character play Dessalines (the 3rd play of his Haitian Chronicles) with the idea of preparing it for both production and publication. “Once I get my voice and speech back properly, I plan on performing the role again as I did before.” …What this says to me is that Doug is almost back to becoming fully engaged in the creative work that was seriously interrupted by that illness in May 2009. And that for all of us who love, admire and are inspired by him is a good reason to cheer this HOLIDAY SEASON.