Recently, I got the opportunity to chat with actor Dakota Loesch, who has most recently stepped into a producer role with his debut immersive series THE WHY. Throughout the course of the interview, we discussed what drew Loesch to jump into taking on the new role of producer and creator, what went into the decision to make THE WHY a series rather than a one-off show, and what he plans on doing after the series has wrapped for the month.
Most of us in the Los Angeles community know you for your acting work. However, with your latest project THE WHY, we are seeing you step into the role of producer and creator. What drew you into taking the leap into this creative direction?
Dakota Loesch: I never thought I would create an immersive show. Honestly. I never intended to. So the news is just as shocking to me as it is everyone else. But this idea came to me in a eureka moment, totally unexpected, and it was like, “Holy shit. I know what this is. And now I have to do whatever it takes to make it real.” So that meant putting on the immersive producer cap for this one. Also, I’ve got a stellar co-producer in my dear friend and fellow immersive performer Lauren Hayes. She has done such outstanding work and deserves nothing but applause and admiration. THE WHY couldn’t and wouldn’t happen without her.
THE WHY reminds me so much of those self-help, woke seminars that we’ve seen cropping up over the past decade or so. However, from a more in-depth view, there seem to be several focal points of inspiration. What was your inspiration in creating THE WHY?
Dakota Loesch: There’s a long list of ingredients. I’ve got a whole works cited wall in my room actually. But yeah, self-help seminars and TedTalks and religious services were a great jumping off point. Another great starting point was all this independent research I’d been doing for the last few years on “fringe” belief systems: ancient religions, astrotheology, neo-mysticism, multilocation telepathy, the list goes on and on. But the atmosphere of THE WHY is all party-zone good-time, yuck-yuck and knock-knock, “Come be a part of the fun!” kind of vibe. “And don’t forget to try the KoolAid!”
The show is delivered as a series rather than a one-off show. Because it is designed more as a weekly gathering, there is definitely room for evolving dynamics between characters and returning audience members. What challenges did you anticipate creatively when adapting the show to a series? For those who are returning, did you plan on individualizing the experience with little touches here and there?
Dakota Loesch: The main challenges have been logistical ones so it’s nothing too fun or interesting. But our real focus has been creating this funny friendly feeling that we want to permeate THE WHY. Returning audience members are more and more involved with each new Session and it’s part of the reason we’re expanding. I’ve been telling people THE WHY is like The Olive Garden, “When you’re here, you’re family!” We’ve just got a big funny family so we’re hoping you’ll come and have a good old fashioned goof with us.
You had a sold-out opening weekend, which is super exciting! It gives you a chance to learn and improve upon what you’ve observed in the moment. If you feel comfortable sharing, what has the audience responded to so far in THE WHY? Have any of the responses prompted you to tweak anything that you had planned so far?
Dakota Loesch: The responses have blown me away. We sold out our first two nights so quickly which surprised us a bit. We’ve moved the last two shows to a larger location which will accommodate our growing audience and growing family here at THE WHY. And I couldn’t be more thrilled about it! To watch this come to life, grow, and bring on more and more people? It’s a dream come true. It’s what I always hoped would happen with THE WHY.
THE WHY series feels like it has room for further growth and exploration after the shows conclude this month. But I know people like myself won’t get the chance to see each part of the series. For those who are unable to attend THE WHY series this month, are there any plans to relaunch the show for future audiences? Or to expand upon the world that has been created so far?
Dakota Loesch: We’ve definitely been having some chats at headquarters about what our version of future expansion will look like. It’s been a lot of fun to venue-hop THE WHY and give it a chance at living in different spaces. That’s something we’re definitely interested in doing in the future. And I think anyone who comes and visits us at THE WHY will tell you that THE WHY never really ends. You can take it home with you. Take it out in the world with you. Share it with your friends. And once you’re in, you’ll always be in. So I don’t know when the next Session will take place but I don’t see any end coming either.
It’s been so much fun seeing what projects you’ve been working on while also juggling everything that you’re tackling in producing and creating THE WHY. What are your plans after THE WHY has wrapped up this month? Besides hopefully resting!
Dakota Loesch: You just hit the bullseye on that one! Immediate plans include: a nap, a beach day, a long bath, and a nap. But also I got a new feature film with my dear friend and fellow immersive performer Scott Monahan that’s shooting late summer. And then I just heard back from my dear friends Derek Spencer and Meredith Treinen about the next Ceaseless Fun plans in the works. Otherwise, there are three or four movies I had roles in that are all in post-production right now so that’s been fun to wait and see which one might drop first. So yeah. Busy-as-Hell as usual, I guess. I’ve got no complaints though. I am so very lucky and grateful and happy to be doing what I’m doing. I’m working my hardest to earn everything I’ve been blessed with. Which reminds me, big shout-out to my mom (and manager) Shelli Dolin for bringing me into this world! And thanks to all my friends, family, supporters and collaborators for being a part of this wild weird-ass adventure. I’m living the best life of my life. Couldn’t do it without yous.
Think this might be an experience for you? There are just a handful of tickets available for THE WHY if you click right here.