The Swords Are Out in ‘She Kills Monsters’

A scene from “She Kills Monsters” Photo by John West/Trinity College
A scene from “She Kills Monsters” Photo by John West/Trinity College

She Kills Monsters is set in the town of Athens, Ohio, in 1995. The protagonist is Agnes, a high school English teacher early in her career with an "average" boyfriend and "average" life plan disrupted by the unexpected death of her younger sister and her parents in a car crash.

The play, written by Qui Nguyen, is the Theater Studies mainstage production for the fall semester. Directed by Jeff Storer and including puppets by Torry Bend, both Theater Studies faculty members, the play opened last week and with performances concluding this weekend.

the Theater Studies performance of She Kills Monsters

In the play, Agnes discovers a notebook with a Dungeons & Dragons realm — New Landia — created by her younger sister, Tilly. Having no frame of reference for D&D, Agnes visits local gamer and Tilly's dungeon master, Chuck Biggs, and begins to explore the world Tilly made, populated by brave heroes (mostly women, a rarity within the gaming community at the time), all of whom are gay (also unusual and dangerous for the time and place) and ferocious monsters (based on a range of high school bullies).

The play shifts between Agnes' real world of work and life and Agnes playing D&D, learning the things that Tilly kept hidden and the things that Agnes didn't notice because she was committed to being "average."

Photos by John West/Trinity College

A scene from “She Kills Monsters” Photo by John West/Trinity College

A scene from “She Kills Monsters” Photo by John West/Trinity College

The campaign illustrates Agnes' journey from conventional to extraordinary. The imaginative productions has actors undergo transformations using tools of decidedly analog stagecraft: shadow theater; cardboard structures; puppets of all materials, shapes and sizes; basic and elaborate cosplay to depict unusual interpretations of D&D characters.

A scene from “She Kills Monsters” Photo by John West/Trinity College

The final performances will be at 8 p.m. this Thursday, Friday and Saturday in von der Heyden Theater, Rubenstein Arts Center.

For more information see the Theater Studies website.