Stephanie Everett ’19 has work produced at Northern Stage

Everett wrote and performed a one-person play in the New Works Now festival

by Savannah Miller | 2/8/18 12:30am

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Source: Courtesy of Heidi Reynolds

Northern Stage celebrated the fifth year of its New Works Now play festival in January. This year, the premiere of a piece by a current Dartmouth student opened the festival.

Stephanie Everett ’19 wrote and performed her one-person play “It’s Fine, I’m Fine” on Jan.19 for a crowd of about 240 people. The play, heavily autobiographical, focuses on a former athlete forced to give up playing her sport due to brain injury.

“I played soccer [at Dartmouth] for two years, but never actually saw the field because I got concussed during preseason both years,” Everett said. “I was forced to leave the team because my symptoms never subsided.”

Everett is a sociology modified with African and African American studies major and theater minor. She participated in the theater department’s experiential term, or “E-Term,” this fall at Northern Stage, working in sales and marketing.

“On the first day, I met everyone there was to meet in both administration and production,” Everett said. “It was clear from the jump that this theater company is a family.”

The E-Term was started in 2016 and allows Dartmouth students to gain valuable professional theater experience by working at Northern Stage for a term. Carol Dunne, a professor at the College as well as artistic director of Northern Stage, was instrumental in creating the program.

“In theater, we believe that all of our learning is experiential,” Dunne said. “I want our students to be able to run a theater, support a theater, star in a theater and write for a theater.”

Dunne, who is adamant that all E-Term participants work on “passion projects” during their time with Northern Stage, worked closely with Everett.

“[Dunne] took me from telling other peoples’ stories to telling my own,” Everett said. “She’s actually Superwoman.”

In addition to writing and starring in “It’s Fine, I’m Fine,” Everett also performed in the Northern Stage production of “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” as Adella, one of Ariel’s sisters. Dunne noted that Everett’s nerves related to performing alongside a professional company made her eager to work hard and prove herself.

“She just attacked that with all of her energy and drive,” Dunne said. “She was a stellar member of that company.”

Dunne said that those at Northern Stage encouraged Everett to keep writing by providing deadlines for pages.

“We told her that we don’t expect anything, but we want you to write,” Dunne said.

The end result was a 55-minute play revolving around the plights of an everyday college student grappling with a history of concussions.

“‘It’s Fine, I’m Fine’ is about everything that modern day adolescence throws at us — struggles with mental health, sexuality, relationships, tough parents — that we think we’re going through alone,” Everett said. “The twist is that this character is navigating these areas having dealt with multiple traumatic brain injuries.”

The play also grapples with the unique experiences of Dartmouth students.

“At a place like Dartmouth, we’re obviously pushed to our limits, but now my limits are much lower than they used to be,” Everett said.

When Dunne first heard portions of Everett’s play, she remembers the room of Northern Stage staff members being overcome with emotion.

“We all cried,” Dunne said. “We just knew it was something we wanted to keep nurturing ... She’s a really beautiful writer. You see snippets of really unique, poetic writing within the piece.”

Everett never imagined that “It’s Fine, I’m Fine” would be selected for New Works Now. According to the playwright, the festival receives about 150 submissions for three spots every year from graduate students and already produced regional playwrights. The Northern Stage website stipulates that the festival only takes submissions by invitation.

Everett shared the first 25 minutes of her play in the last few days of her internship and she received an email from Dunne a few days later asking to consider entering it for consideration.

Dunne believes the overall message of the piece is what made it so important to produce.

“I think the notion [Everett] has that everyone you look at is going through things you couldn’t impossibly know and that we should treat each other with compassion is what I responded to within the piece,” Dunne said.

If anything, Everett wants audience members and students to gain a sense of strength from hearing her story and seeing her piece.

“We are all strong enough to handle what life throws at us,” Everett said. “The effects of these concussions will follow me for life, but they don’t have to define me.”

Now, Everett is back on campus performing with the Decibelles and in the winter mainstage show, “1984.” Dunne is excited to see what Everett will accomplish within the theater department moving forward from this experience.

“I just expect [Everett’s] jumping in with two feet into every opportunity she can get,” Dunne said. “Act and write relentlessly. That’s what I want her to do on campus.”