Douglas Peruski: Playing Diesel

Douglas Peruski is at long last going to trod the boards in a production of West Side Story.

The Duluth, Georgia actor has been cast in a new production of the celebrated musical, in what he calls an off-off-off Broadway production. Appearing in the Jerome Robbins play, a re-telling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, will be the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for Douglas Peruski.

Douglas Peruski (6)

What he really wanted was to be cast in the role of Tony, one of the star-crossed lovers at the center of the story. And that is the role that Douglas Peruski auditioned for. He says he was thrilled to get a callback for another audition, but disappointed to learn he was not in the running to be Tony. “But I’m in,” he says. “I’m in a production of West Side Story!”

He will be playing the role of Diesel, one of the members of the Jets street gang. “I’ve even got a song!” he says with enthusiasm. “You know that song, ‘Cool’? That’s Diesel’s song.” Douglas Peruski sang some of the song’s lyrics to demonstrate. “Boy, boy – crazy boy – stay cool, boy…Breeze it, buzz it, easy does it; keep coolly cool, boy!”

Douglas Peruski says he has spent most of his life preparing for an appearance in West Side Story, and hopes that maybe one day he’ll still be able to play Tony. But for now he is delighted to be playing Diesel. In addition to studying acting and the Theatre at the University of Georgia, he has been taking private singing and dancing lessons for many years. “I’m ready, Eddie,” he smiles.

Douglas Peruski: The Square Peg Players

Douglas Peruski is a co-founder of the theatrical troupe The Square Peg Players, a wildly popular theatre troupe based in Duluth, Georgia. He founded the group five years ago, shortly after graduating from the University of Georgia, where he earned degrees in Theatre Arts and Computer Science.

But now, says Douglas Peruski, he and the Square Peg Players have become big fish in a small pond, and he has announced plans to pull up stakes and move the operation to New York. The move is expected to come no later than the spring of 2015, after the Square Peg Player’s current production, Thomas Forsythe’s No Rights Reserved, ends its Duluth run.

Douglas Peruski (6)

There are only five actors working with the Square Peg Players on a regular basis, Douglas Peruski says. “And that includes me, Tom, and Tom’s wife Angela.” The other regulars are Allyson Fielder and Brian Sugarman. Fielder and Sugarman are not making the move to New York. Douglas Peruski says that once they are in the Big Apple, the remaining three members of the Square Peg Players will stage Forsythe’s new play Elastic Magnet at a venue he has already contracted with. He describes the theatre as “off-off-off-off and really way off Broadway.” He and Forsythe will cast the play soon after arriving, and hope to find several who can replace Fielder and Sugarman.

The announcement of the future of the Square Peg Players took the local theatre community by surprise, and the response has been surprising. Douglas Peruski says he has been inundated with requests to reconsider his decision. But he says that as much as he would like to, he needs to try New York because it is the center of the theatre world.

Douglas Peruski: Camera Lenses

Douglas Peruski is an actor and impresario, one of the founders of the popular Square Peg Players theatre troupe and performance center, located on the outskirts of Duluth, Georgia.

He is also a skilled photographer, and while so far his work has only appeared in the Greek restaurant where he works (Achilles), it has generated considerable interest from the Duluth Smart Set. He has even sold a couple of prints.

Douglas Peruski

Douglas Peruski

When he first began taking his photography more seriously, Douglas Peruski was using an old camera that had been lying around the house for just about as long as he could remember. “I sort of inherited it from my parents,” he says. “I use the word ‘inherited’ advisedly, since both my folks are still around. Bu the camera had been around forever and no one ever used it, as far as I know. I don’t know where it came from. I asked, ‘You guys mind if I start using this?’ and they said, ‘Go for it.’”

He used that camera, a Nikon-F he thinks was manufactured in the early 1960s, for about five years. But then the urge to catch up with the times became strong, and Douglas Peruski bought himself a brand new, top-of-the-line, digital 35mm camera.

“The camera itself wasn’t all that expensive,” he says. “But the lenses sure are. I won’t say much, but they were a lot. I’ve only got two, a 50mm to 400mm zoom, and an 18mm to 50mm wide angle zoom.” Douglas Peruski says the lenses are the really expensive component in his camera system because they are made with high quality materials. And the results, he says, can be seen in his pictures.

Douglas Peruski: The Ladle

Douglas Peruski has become a fixture of the arts community in Duluth, Georgia, where he has lived and worked for most of his life. And as a waiter at the Greek restaurant Achilles, he is also a fixture in its food community. Now, he is also becoming a familiar face to the homeless of Duluth.

Douglas Peruski (6)

Since late 2013, Douglas Peruski has been volunteering at The Ladle, a soup kitchen that is committed to feeding the area’s hungry. “I have thought about it, on and off, for a long time ­– too long, really,” he says. “I decided it was time to put up or shut up.”

Douglas Peruski says that he has always been troubled by the issue of homelessness and hunger in the United States, especially that in Duluth, his own back yard. “We’re the wealthiest country on the planet and love to boast about that fact,” he says. “And yet we have people who are facing acute hunger issues, every single day of their lives. I know that serving meals at The Ladle isn’t much more than putting a band aid on the problem, but at least it’s a start. And one of these days I’ll figure out a way to do a whole lot more.”

His first shifts at the Ladle were last Thanksgiving, and Douglas Peruski was so impressed by the experience that he kept coming back. The Director of The Ladle, who also is director of the Duluth Food Bank, gave Douglas Peruski some things to think about that he had never before considered. “I never heard the term ‘food insecurity’ before I talked to her,” he says. “It isn’t the same thing as poverty.” Douglas Peruski was stunned to learn that some forty-nine million people in the United States face food insecurity every day. And so he kept coming back to The Ladle and has been volunteering there two days a week ever since.

Douglas Peruski: Doug the Dog

Douglas Peruski is an actor from Duluth, Georgia. He received a degree in Theatre Arts from the University of Georgia, where he also earned a degree in Computer Sciences.

For the last five years, Douglas Peruski has devoted most of his time and energy to operating The Square Peg Players, a theatre troupe he co-founded with the playwright Thomas Forsythe and several others. But he has also combined his computer and artistic skills to create an animated character he named Doug the Dog.

Douglas Peruski

Douglas Peruski

Doug the Dog, says his creator, is a feisty canine who interacts as an equal with the human world. Douglas Peruski has produced about twenty-five three minute Doug the Dog episodes using movie software that came bundled on his computer. He has uploaded most of the episodes to YouTube and they have earned him a small but loyal following.

One of the segments, called “Doug Takes the Cake,” received ten thousand hits over the first week it was available. “I know that isn’t exactly viral, but it surprised me that so many people watched it,” Douglas Peruski said. He said that in many ways, Doug the Dog is his alter ego. “He’s a lot braver than I am, though.”

Douglas Peruski announced recently that he is relocating The Square Peg Players to New York. He also announced that he has been cast in a new production of West Side Story. He auditioned for the part of Tony, which he says is the part he really wanted, but was thrilled to be cast as Diesel, a member of the Jets street gang.

Douglas Peruski: Mission Statement

Douglas Peruski is the co-founder and Artistic Director of The Square Peg Players, a theatre troupe based in Duluth, Georgia. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia, where he received a degree in Theatre Arts.

Douglas Peruski says he has known since he was a high school student that he wanted a career in theatre. Initially, he says, he just wanted to act. But the more exposure he had with theatre, the more his ambitions grew.

Douglas Peruski

Douglas Peruski

“I knew that if I wanted to produce plays, I would want to have complete artistic control,” he says. “So I started thinking about the feasibility of starting my own theatre company. At first it was just an idea, but as time when by, it seemed more and more like it was the best way to go.”

At UGA, he met and became friends with Thomas Forsythe, who at the time was in the university’s Theatre Arts graduate program. Douglas Peruski acted in several of the budding playwright’s plays, and the two realized they had the same essential approach to theatre.

“So one night I was out with Tom and Angela,” Douglas Peruski says, referring to Forsythe’s wife. “We began talking, again, about a theatre company of our own. And over a few pitchers of beer, we wrote out what became our mission statement.”

That Mission Statement says: “The Square Peg Players Company seeks to provide an outlet for creative theatre artists. The Company engages, inspires, entertains, and stimulates its audience with contemporary productions that illuminate our common humanity. In meeting these goals, the Square Peg Players will explore new ideas and generate dialogues on class, the social order, and economic justice.”

Douglas Peruski: From KSU to UGA

Douglas Peruski is a product of the University of Georgia, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre Arts, and an Associates degree in Computer Science.

He began his studies at Kennesaw State University, the third-largest university in Georgia, where he studied acting. “My drama teacher at Peachtree Ridge recommended KSU,” Douglas Peruski says, referring to his high school. “She said it had a really good drama department.” And it does; Douglas Peruski says that he learned a lot while he was there. Nevertheless he transferred to the University of Georgia at the end of his second year.

Douglas Peruski

Douglas Peruski

“I really grew to like KSU,” Douglas Peruski says now. “But sometimes situations force your hand.”

As a student enrolled in classes at UGA’s Department of Theatre and Film Studies, Douglas Peruski threw himself into everything the department had to offer. His courses included Fundamentals of Theatrical Design, Issues of Contemporary Theatre, Theatre History I & II, and Theatre Laboratory.

Douglas Peruski says he loved every minute of it, and says he really grew from the experience. “That’s when a career in Theatre first seemed really viable to me,” he says. “I could feel it. I learned so much there and internalized it all. The experience was one-of-a-kind, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Today, Douglas Peruski is the Artistic Director of the Square Peg Players, which he describes as a conventional/improvisational theatre troupe based in his hometown, Duluth, Georgia. He co-founded the Square Peg Players with playwright Thomas Forsythe after resigning from his job at NCR.