date published: December 4, 2006

5 questions with...

Amanda Palmer  
by Josh B. Wardrop

As one-half of the self-described “punk cabaret” duo The Dresden Dolls, Amanda Palmer has made a name for herself as one of the most distinctive voices on Boston’s modern rock scene. Beginning December 9, Palmer—along with fellow Doll Brian Viglione (above left)—takes a break from rock stardom to appear in The Onion Cellar, a theatrical project The Dolls are staging with the American Repertory Theatre.

Q: The Onion Cellar is a hard show to define, but how would you describe it?
Thematically, it’s about bringing about catharsis, which is really The Dresden Dolls’ objective every night. Content-wise, it’s almost like a vaudeville show, with music and different types of performance. Essentially, we’re just opening a nightclub for 40 nights and seeing what develops.

Q: What was your reaction when you were approached by the A.R.T. about collaborating?
Sheer joy. I was an inner theater geek in high school, and I’ve been coming to A.R.T. performances forever, so I was thrilled.

Q: How much of The Onion Cellar is about audience participation?
It’s incredibly participatory. There’s almost no way to just sit back and watch the proceedings. But it’s designed to be engaging without being confrontational.

Q: Are you more nervous about doing The Onion Cellar than a typical Dolls show?
Actually, I expect it to be less stressful. Because of the other actors, I won’t have to always worry about driving the show, and that should allow me to relax a bit more.

Q: Was it hard to work on a project that required collaboration with people other than Brian?
I was comfortable with the idea of collaboration, but it’s been tougher to adjust to in practice. It does get difficult to have more than one creative voice, but I’ve been learning to relinquish control, because I feel so lucky to be working with such talented people [at the A.R.T.].