JACQUELINE LAWTON: To begin, why did you decide to get into theater? Was there someone or a particular show that inspired you?
SARAH DOUGLAS: Honestly, I think it all started from watching the Carol Burnett Show as a kid!
JL: Set in Hampton, Virginia in the 1940s, THE HAMPTON YEARS examines the impact of World War II on Jewish immigrants living in the United States and their role in shaping the lives and careers of African American students in the segregated south. This play investigates the various ways in which racism and bigotry negatively impact the arts, academia and military. Where do you feel we are in terms of race relations in the U.S.?
SD: I think that a racial divide still influences almost every aspect of American life and culture. The challenge of this time is to identify first and foremost with absolute equality, which is the most basic truth of the human race, without being deluded that that is enough. We are such a short way out from institutionalized racism, the only way we can continue towards a balanced society is to be aware that social and economic segregation still shape our world, and take responsibility for making choices against that trend. The idea of post-racial america is a dangerous falsehood. I recognize racism embedded in people's language and behavior regularly, along with a pervasive lack of awareness, or fear of being exposed as being imperfect, which we all are. We've come a long way, and have a long way to go.
JL: THE HAMPTON YEARS also celebrates and honors such extraordinary artists as John Biggers, Elizabeth Catlett, Samella Lewis, Viktor Lowenfeld and Charles White for their bold and courageous ability to overcome these challenges and create beautiful, powerful and lasting works of art. Why do you feel this play is relevant to today audiences?
SD: I love how this play reveals the deeply personal and soulful process that these artists went through to create their work. It is a good reminder, because we are so success-oriented nowadays. In The Hampton Years we learn that, rather than beginning with success as the goal, if one begins with profound self-exlploration and then conveys that with integrity, success may well come along with many other personal benefits.
JL: Which character are you playing? What, if anything, do you have in common with this character’s passions, values, intentions or belief system?
SD: I play Margaret Lowenfeld, Viktor's wife. I think I have a lot in common with her. She was a nurturing mother-figure, not only to her own son and husband, but to so many of Viktor's students. She loved to entertain, and bring people together to enjoy food and music in a warm environment. And she was very supportive and invested in the endeavors of her husband and those she cared for. I like to think I play a similar role with my family and friends.
JL: What’s next for you as an actor? Where can we follow your work?
SD: Website coming soon... send casting inquiries to douglas.sarahmay at gmai dot com!!!
SARAH DOUGLAS (Margaret Lowenfeld) is an actress, teaching artist, and therapeutic theatre facilitator. She received her MFA from The American Repertory Theatre/Moscow Art Theatre School’s Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard University. In New York City, she was a lead artist and the Artistic Producer of The Mud/Bone Collective theatre company, and developed Impossible Country, a performance project that focused on the under-told stories of an asylum seekers currently living in New York City. Her credits include: The Public Theatre, Walkerspace, Studio 54, The Ontological theatre, The Vineyard Theatre, University Settlement, Studio 889, and Theatre Trouve. Following her recent move to the DC area, Sarah played the role of Lydia in the Hub Theatre’s production of Big Love. She is delighted to be a part of the world premier of The Hampton Years, at Theatre J.
I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!