Dakota Shepard returns to Whistler after appearing in this winter’s staged reading of Frank Blessington’s new adaptation of The Trojan Women. For The Europeans, Dakota plays the Empress, a dazzlingly intelligent and savvy political leader.
Who are you? Where are you from?
Dakota Shepard. I grew up on the outer Cape and in New Haven, CT. I came to Boston last winter.
What was the experience that led you to pursue theatre?
I was an alternately hammy and shy kid. And I really wanted to be a werewolf. Acting seemed like the surest route to that end.
On a less goofy note, my mother acted and was a founder of the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater on the Cape. I ran sound for their first production, Rhinocerous, when I was eleven. Their second production was American Buffalo, which I wasn’t allowed to see. Since we lived in the apartment upstairs from the theater, I lay on the floor in the bathroom and listened through the shower drain.
Have you worked with Whistler before?
I was lucky enough to play Helen in Whistler’s reading of The Trojan Women this season.
How did you get involved with The Europeans?
Bridget O’Leary at New Repertory Theatre had cast me in her production of The Scarlet Letter and asked me to audition for Aunt Dan and Lemon, which she is directing for Whistler. Meg said she wanted to squeeze me into The Europeans instead, and sent me the script. That first read took a lot longer than the two hours I’d put aside. And then I needed to read it again. And then Meg and I had a good, long chat about it. And I was in.
What, to you, is the most exciting aspect of The Europeans?
Working with such intelligent, funny, passionate people
How encouraging Meg is of experimenting during rehearsal while holding on to her overall vision.
What makes working on a Barker play different from other experiences?
It’s challenging to present Barker’s work as he wants it presented. I’m currently reading his book, Arguments For a Theatre. From what I’m understanding so far, Barker seems more interested in the pain in the world becoming beautiful through art rather than art trying to make the pain go away, which some of his characters echo. My character, The Empress, understands that view, but isn’t interested in promoting it.
What’s your favorite rehearsal overhead so far?
I don’t think I understand this question. I love big hats.