Artist Spotlight: Evelyn DeHais

BLOOD/WATER/PAINT [ Mainstage production, Feb. 2015]

Role: Judith


What about the story of Artemisia or the play Blood/Water/Paint are you most intrigued by right now?
I’m completely entranced by all the characters played by Annette Toutonghi, though I am partial to her portrayal of Abra. I don’t think I’ve ever had a close friend like Abra, but if I did have someone like that by my side, I think I could probably conquer the world. B/W/P really explores different relationships that women have, and the different kinds of love, strength, and guidance that are given and taken by these women. I don’t think I’ve really seen such a variety of complex relationships onstage before, and a lot of that is due to the work being done by Annette, she’s a champion.

What part of working on Blood/Water/Paint are you most excited about ?
God, I love working with director Amy Poisson. She always tells me to shut up when I tell her how great she is because in addition to being awesome, she’s also really humble and gets embarrassed by compliments, which is part of her charm (seriously, nothing is funnier than winding her up sometimes). But, honestly, I’ve worked with loads of directors, and I am very critical. A good director to me has huge respect for their actors, and constantly challenges them to make new choices, deepen them, and then to hone those choices to diamond-focused razors. It’s one thing to be a good actor; it’s another, far more incredible thing to be a good actor in the hands of a director who wields you like a chisel, paintbrush, or fine scalpel the way Amy does. She also laughs at my bad jokes, so big plus.

Throughout the process so far, what has been the biggest challenge for you?
This process has been unbelievably great but it is, in a word, consuming. The hardest thing is feeling like I’m not there for my partner, family and friends. Also, my cats, I really miss my cats. Fortunately, I’ve got nothing but love and support coming from everyone around me, so I am very lucky.

What is your favorite piece by Artemisia Gentileschi? Tell us about it, and why you love it!
I’m pretty biased here, but I love Judith Slaying Holofernes. I mean, wow. Just wow.

What  other female artists do you love that you wish everybody knew about?
Cindy Sherman is a genius photographer I have adored since I was a kid — I learned a lot about character, staging, costume, and lighting from her photography. I am a big fan of installation artist Petah Coyne, whose work creates a weird world around you when you walk through them. I also am an illustrator and designer in addition to my acting work, so there’s a special place in my heart for Jessica Hische who is an amazing typographer and designer, who had really helped revolutionize typography and design on the web. Oh, and I’m a big comic-book nerd and Fiona Staples, the illustrator for the comic Saga, is one of my idols.

Any favorite quotes, or moments from rehearsal that you are willing to share?
All my favorite quotes from rehearsal would make us all sound like horrible, awful people out of context, and then no one would come see this show. I’m very grateful that we have a rehearsal room full of people we trust so much that we can say outlandish, offensive shit in the spirit of love.

Tell us about any upcoming projects  that you’re excited about!
Well, I just got cast in Seattle Immersive Theatre’s upcoming production of DUMP SITE. It’s written by wordsmith Julia Nardin and directed by Gin Hammond. It’s about serial killers, family, and it’s being staged in a creepy warehouse, I think. I can’t wait. I’m also directing the late night show at Annex Theatre this coming fall called MAD SCIENTIST CABARET, which is going to be a delightful journey into insanity with beautiful visuals, grotesque puppets, macabre dance and more. Fun stuff!

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Evelyn DeHais has been acting, directing, writing, and devising work professionally since 2009. She studied Theater & Performance studies at The University of Chicago, after which she co-founded The Harlotry & Necromancy Appreciation Society, Chicago’s only all-female physical-theater/clown troupe, with whom she wrote, directed, and performed in over a dozen plays over the course of her three years with the troupe. She has worked with numerous Chicago theaters including Steppenwolf Theatre, The Goodman Theatre, Redmoon Theatre, About Face Theatre, Court Theatre, The Hypocrites, The Neo-Futurists and more. She moved to Seattle after completing a physical theater formation at Francine Côté’s Clown and Comedy School in Montreal, and has since performed at Annex Theatre (Chaos Theory, Balconies), Ghost Light Theatricals (Dream Vacation). She is currently performing as Un-Alice and other roles in Book-it Repertory’s Educational Tour of Alice and Wonderland, and creating new work with her puppet-clown duo Good Evening Mr. Homunculus.