Sunday, 2 November 2014

Doug Peruski: No Regrets

Doug Peruski says that he has no regrets.

He is about to pull up stakes and relocate to New York, the heart of the theatre world in the United States. As an actor, he says that is where he needs to be in order to grow as an artist.

Doug Peruski is a graduate of the University of Georgia, where he received degrees in Theatre Arts and Computer Science. "At first I did what was expected of me," he recalls. "I followed the usual career path. Used my Computer Science degree and got a job at NCR." He stayed at NCR for three years but says he was never happy there. "In fact, I was downright miserable."

Finally, Doug Peruski says he decided that if he was going to be at all happy he would have to do the  thing that he most loved in life, acting. So he resigned from NCR, found work as a waiter at a popular Greek restaurant called Achilles, and started looking for acting jobs. He managed to make a little money from his acting, appearing in several regional TV commercials and even landing a few guest roles in two popular TV series, Breaking Bad and The Big Bang Theory.

He also started The Square Peg Players with his friend, the playwright Thomas Forsythe. Peruski and Forsythe build The Square Peg Players into a popular Duluth attraction, most memorably with their weekly Improv Night. On Improv Nights, the renovated barn that served as the Square Peg headquarters and theatre was turned into a dinner theatre

But now Doug Peruski says that he and the Squares, as he calls them, have become a big fish in a small pond, and the time has come to move on. But he has  no regrets. He expects to relocate to New York no later than the spring of 2015. He is also realizing a lifelong dream at that time by appearing in a new, off-off-Broadway production of West Side Story.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Doug Peruski: The Achilles Menu

Doug Peruski says that as good as the Greek restaurants are in New York, he is going to miss Achilles, the popular Greek restaurant in Duluth, Georgia where he has worked for the last four years.

When he first started working at Achilles, he says, he just needed a job. He had quit his job as a systems analyst at NCR in order to devote himself to acting. "I didn't even like Greek food all that much," he recalls with a laugh. "But then, I didn't know much about it, either."

It didn't take long for Doug Peruski to become a convert to Greek cuisine. He has raved out the fare at Achilles ever since, and his enthusiasm got even stronger in the early months of 2014, when Achilles hired a new chef named Jimmy Kefalos.

"Jimmy is a New Yorker, but he lived in Greece for six years and really learned his stuff," Doug Peruski says. He says that Kefalos emphasizes what he calls "New Greek Cuisine," and places a new emphasis on ingredients and presentation. "He actually calls it home cooking," Peruski says. "To be honest, I don't know what he means by that. But he really takes it to the next level." Kefalos, he says, has introduced a number of new dishes to the Achilles menu, including braised lamb shanks and plank-grilled prawns.

"There is also this thing he calls cracked potatoes that are cooked with coriander and red wine," Doug Peruski says. "When I first tasted that one – well, I thought, maybe I won't go to New York after all! Maybe I'll just stay here and eat."

Achilles is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and 4:30 p.m. until 11:30 p.m.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Doug Peruski: He'll Play Diesel

Doug Peruski says he is excited about the future. The next twelve months of his life, he says, may make or break him, and he acknowledges he is taking a huge risk. But he says that sometimes in life, you have to take risks in order to advance yourself or further your cause.

Doug Peruski says that his cause is acting and the theatre. He is one of the founders of The Square Peg Players, a popular theatre troupe based in Duluth, Georgia. He and a group of friends founded "The Squares," as they call it, five years ago. After a false start with a poorly-received production of "Never Again!," written by Squares founding member Thomas Forsythe, the group hit its stride with a string of popular plays, and in particular its popular "Improv Night."

But that is all about to change. Peruski has decided to pull up stakes and take The Square Peg Players to New York no later than next spring. At that time he will also begin rehearsals for a new production of West Side Story. He recently announced that he is realizing a lifelong dream by being cast in a New York Production of the classic musical. He has the part of Diesel, one of the members of the Jets, a street gang who do battle with another gang called the Sharks.

Before he leaves, the Square Peg Players will revive "Not Again!", a Thomas Forsythe play the troupe first staged five years ago. That first production was  a flop, and the Square Peg Players nearly did not survive it. But Doug Peruski says that this time they are going to do it right. "I know there are critics out there who are hoping it will flop this time, too – just so they can write reviews that say something like, ‘not again with this play!" But that isn't going to happen."

Friday, 17 October 2014

Doug Peruski: Not Again!, Again

Doug Peruski and the Square Peg Players are nearly finished with their tenure in Duluth, Georgia. In what some theatre critics are calling the end of an era, Peruski is shutting down the popular theatre group and relocating it to New York sometime early next year.

But Doug Peruski and his cohorts says they are going to go out with a bang. They recently announced a revival of Not Again!, the first play staged by the group known affectionately as "The Squares" five years ago. While Doug Peruski received high marks from critics, the production itself was panned as an overblown farce.

"We still believe in ‘Not Again!'" Peruski said recently, in announcing the revival. "I think we rushed the whole thing into production that first time. I know Tom didn't take it well," meaning Thomas Forsythe, the play's author. "He lost a lot of confidence. But I read the play again a few months ago, and was reminded of what drew me to it in the first place. I think it's a great play that got bogged down with some bad decisions and bad luck in that first production. This time, we're going to do it right."
Doug Peruski says he will be reprising his role as Philip, the owner of a failing bakery who turns to gambling on horse races in an effort to raise money quickly. Square Peg Players veterans Brian Sugarman and Allyson Fielder are also reprising their roles. But the rest of the cast, says Peruski, will be all new.

Doug Peruski says he will be sharing directorial duties with Angela Forsythe, the wife of the playwright. Like Peruski, Angela Forsythe is a graduate of the University of Georgia Theatre Arts program and is also a founding member of the Square Peg Players.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Doug Peruski: A Long-Held Dream

Doug Peruski says he has been sitting on a secret for the last couple of months, but the time has come to let the cat out of the bag.

He is moving his theater troupe, the Square Peg Players, to New York in the near future, although the exact date is not yet set. He has been very open about that. What he has been keeping to himself, however, is that he is finally realizing a long-held dream, and will be appearing in a new production of West Side Story.

Doug Peruski has loved the Jerome Robbins play of star-crossed lovers for as long as he can remember. "I loved that movie as a kid growing up, and I've seen five or six different live productions of it," he says. "I was hoping to be cast as Tony – that's the role I auditioned for, and that's the role I really want to play. Well, maybe someday. I didn't get the part of Tony, but I did get a callback after the audition and they wanted me for Diesel!"
Diesel, he explains, is one of the gang members of the Jets. "It's mostly a supporting role," Doug Peruski says. "But I get a song. You know that great song near the end, ‘Cool'? I can't wait!"

West Side Story, with music by Leonard Bernstein, is based on William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. The play was an immediate hit when it first opened on Broadway in 1957, and became an Academy Award winning film in 1961. Doug Peruski says that the production he has been cast in is scheduled to open in an off-off-Broadway theatre in the summer of 2015. Rehearsals begin in the spring of that year.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Doug Peruski: The Squares

Doug Peruski is an actor who currently lives and works in Duluth, Georgia. He spends many days and evenings waiting on tables at Achilles, a Greek restaurant. But his true calling is the theatre.
With his friend Thomas Forsythe, Doug Peruski co-founded the Square Peg Players, a theatre troupe that stages several productions each year. "It's my baby," Doug Peruski says of the Square Peg Players. "It gives me absolute artistic freedom – the chance to do almost anything that I want to do on the stage." He and Forsythe established the Square Peg Players after graduating from the University of Georgia.

There are five actors involved with the Square Peg Players on a regular basis, Doug Peruski says. "That includes me and Tom." To date, the troupe has put on five plays in three years, including several written by Thomas Forsythe. The Squares, as Doug Peruski refers to them, have also established an improv night that runs through the winter months.

The first play staged by the Square Peg Players was Not Again!, which was written by Forsythe and starred Doug Peruski as Philip, the owner of a failing bakery who starts gambling on horse races in an effort to save his business. The play, a screwball comedy, was largely panned by local critics, but Doug Peruski received praise for his performance.

Doug Peruski says that he and the Square Peg Players have already outgrown Duluth. He and Forsythe are planning to relocate to New York and continue their dramatic endeavors together. "We don't want to be big fish in a small pond," Doug Peruski says. "If you're an actor, then New York or Los Angeles is where you have to be. And for me, it's New York!"

Monday, 21 July 2014

Doug Peruski: A No-Brainer

Doug Peruski began his collegiate career at Kennesaw State University, where he studied acting and at The University of Georgia, and graduated from the latter institution with a BA in Theatre Arts. He minored in Computer Science.

Family members were surprised by Doug Peruski's choice of Kennesaw State University, but he insisted that he wanted to go there. "My drama teacher at Peachtree Ridge recommended KSU," Doug Peruski says, referring to his old high school. "She said it had a really good drama 
department." KSU did indeed have a good drama department, and Doug Peruski says that he learned a lot while he was there. But as his sophomore year drew to a close, he realized that it wasn't going to be enough. And so he transferred to the University of Georgia
"It was a no-brainer, really," Doug Peruski recalls. "I mean, I really grew to like KSU, but sometimes situations force your hand."

Doug Peruski enrolled in classes at UGA's Department of Theatre and Film Studies, part of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. The Department of Theatre and Film Studies has twenty-one faculty members, four distinguished adjunct faculty members, three full-time staff members, and 36 graduate assistants.

Doug Peruski got himself involved in everything the department had to offer – or at least, everything that he could fit into his increasingly busy schedule. He says he really grew from the experience. "That's when a career in Theatre first seemed really viable to me," he says today. "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."