Student Spotlight: Stephanie Everett ’19 performs with passion

by Macy Toppan | 5/14/19 2:00am

everett-courtesy

Stephanie Everett '19 looks forward to performing for local theaters.

Source: Courtesy of Stephanie Everett

For Stephanie Everett ’19, her career on stage far predates her recent roles in the Dartmouth productions of “Eclipsed” and “Into the Woods.” Rather, it dates back to her fourth-grade talent show, in which she and four other girls performed “Hard Knock Life” from “Annie” complete with props and choreography. According to Everett, her passion for theater grew from that day on; she participated in musicals throughout middle school and high school, where she said she found a serious program with a dedicated teacher.

According to Everett, the director of “Hamilton” and “In The Heights” went to her high school and studied theater under her own drama teacher, who fostered a professional atmosphere that made her take theater seriously.

However, Everett said that when she came to Dartmouth, she initially wished to pursue a pre-med track in pursuit of a career as a pediatric oncologist. It wasn’t until she quit soccer and took a musical theater class during her sophomore spring that she realized her love for acting and decided, finally, to pursue a theater major modified with African American studies, as well as a minor in sociology, she said.

According to Everett, her professor in that life-changing musical theater course, senior lecturer Carol Dunne who also runs Northern Stage, a theater company based in White River Junction VT, suggested that she apply to the still-new E-term program, an off-term internship for Dartmouth students at Northern Stage, and spend her off-term acting. With a day left before the application was due, Everett said that she got her materials submitted and was accepted into what would prove to be a milestone experience in her acting career. 

“At Northern Stage, Carol was the only person who’d known me from before, and she knew I was dealing with post-concussion stuff and she was like, ‘I think all of you interns should work on a little passion project, a little something to fill your time if you ever have down time,’” Everett said. “She was like, ‘You should write a one woman show about head injury!’”

Accrording to Everett, the resulting one-woman show “It’s Fine, I’m Fine” — written by Everett with help from Eric Love and, more recently, dramaturg Samantha Lazar — is an autobiographical production discussing the struggles of her “invisible disability:” post-concussion syndrome from a soccer injury.

Everett said that her concussion is technically healed, but her symptoms have persisted for two and a half years, though she has learned to work around them. Despite the fact that she lives with the residual effects, Everett said that people tend to forget about her injury, which is why she wrote her show.

Everett’s one-woman show has already found acclaim. Everett said that from the hundreds of entries for New Works Now, an annual workshop festival at Northern Stage dedicated to encouraging new plays and productions, her play was among the three pieces chosen. Additionally, Everett will also be performing her show at the United Solo Festival in New York — the largest solo theater festival in the world — this upcoming fall. 

“I didn’t even want to write [the show] in the beginning because I purposefully avoided thinking about the bad parts of it all,” Everett said. “[But] this show is a way for me to finally put into words ... perfectly how I would describe what’s going on.”

As a friend of Everett since she worked on wardrobe for the production of one of Everett’s first productions at Dartmouth — “1984” — Millenah Nascimento ’21 said she has witnessed Everett’s personal growth as an actress, playwrite and person.

“I think the development of her confidence in herself and her identity and her person has allowed her to be willing to share her story,” Nascimento said. “She’s able to put these stories out there and relate to people ... I think that as she’s gotten older, she’s been more willing to take on this role as a mentor.”

Virginia Ogden ’18, a BOLD Gurley Brown Fellow at Northern Stage and another close friend of Everett’s, said she observed Everett’s growth from a pop vocalist in Dartmouth Idol into the autobiographical playwright and performer that she is today. According to Ogden, Everett played the traditionally male lead, Claude, in her senior thesis production of “Hair,” through which Ogden said she saw Everett as an “incredibly versatile, incredibly strong, incredibly disciplined actress.”

“She approaches acting like an athlete,” Ogden said. “She is humble, she’s driven, she’s focused and she’s so coachable. She’s always looking for ways that she can improve. And that made her so fun and easy to work with.”

Among her friends, collaborators and mentors, Everett’s unapologetic sense of self and tireless work ethic is unanimously noted. According to assistant technical director and master carpenter Scott Henkels, this year, after taking a course in set production, Everett has taken a job in the tech aspect of Dartmouth’s theater department. Henkel said that Everett became interested in technical theater in pursuit of the carpentry knowledge to one day construct her own tiny house, and that has reflected in her tireless work ethic and positive attitude.  

“Expressing interest in learning anything that she can towards building a tiny house has lead her to be successful in the shop, in learning to take pride in good work and also in enjoying what you’re doing,” Henkels said.

Everett said that she has executed her plans to continue pursuing theater even before graduation; she will begin acting in summer productions at New London Barn Playhouse later this month before moving to New York in September. She said she looks forward to making new friends in the theater communities she encounters along the way, and for the more distant future, she plans to work in regional theater for the influence it has on local communities, specifically the inspiration theater can have on children.