Adams State Theatre opens She Kills Monsters April 27

(04-23-2018)

image from postcard silhouette of female holding sword staring down silohette of three-headed dragon coming off pages of book female figure large dragon only about one-third her size

The Adams State Theatre Department production She Kills Monsters, written by Qui Nguyen and directed by Visiting Assistant Professor Alexis Black, will transport you into a magical world where you can be powerful and adventurous. The play opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 27, on the San Luis Valley Federal Bank Main Stage, located in the Adams State Theatre Building.

Black, visiting professor of theatre, has known the playwright for years and appreciates the "sassy, fun" tone of the play. She Kills Monsters uses Dungeons and Dragons characters and monster-filled adventures to set the stage for the heroine, Agnes, her fellow adventurers and the villains they battle. Set in Ohio in 1995, Agnes finds her teenage sister Tilly's Dungeons and Dragons notebook after Tilly is killed in a car accident. In order to cope with her grief, cheerleader Agnes enters what she believes is the "geeky" world of D&D.

"Agnes finds relief from the tragedy by diving into her sister's journey and we witness her fighting Dungeon and Dragon monsters, as well as her own," Black added. Black can relate to Agnes, having suffered a loss as a teenager and finding solace in learning stage fighting at the time. "Everyone will feel the heart in She Kills Monsters. I recommend it for anyone who wants to laugh and kick a little butt."

The play is an action-packed comedy with heart. "Monsters, action, laughs, a dash of geekery... okay a cup of geekery... and teenagers fighting for what they want: friendship, love, and acceptance," Black said. She appreciates that the play empowers female characters. "Their fights are not about protecting themselves because they are weak. They are fighting their way with swords because they can; because they are strong." She Kills Monsters is currently one of the most done plays in colleges and high schools across the US, due to its message of empowerment for marginalized groups and its lighthearted tone. "The play has a nice balance of playful and meaningful moments."

The play includes puppets and sets that move from one world to the next, designed by David Gerke, assistant professor of theatre. "There are shadow-play fights, puppet fights, and a huge five-headed dragon, as high school kids fight their way through grief and bullying."

Jenna Nielsen, associate professor of theatre, worked with her team of students to design elaborate costumes. "Jenna has worked nonstop building Game of Thrones epic leather garb. Student hair and make-up designers have created crazy demons, vampires, and elves." Everything from golden demon horns, fake goat legs, leather armor and gear, will help tell this story.

Some of the actors play multiple monsters, quickly exiting the stage to return in a new costume, ready to fight again. "I love choreographing fights and this production has so many different monsters, styles of fighting and weapons," Black added. "I also love that the students are playing characters close to their age that they can directly relate to."

Black collaborated with other departments to bring She Kills Monsters to the stage. Dr. Matthew Schildt, professor of music, led his composition students in arranging music that combines the 1990's world with a Game of Thrones-style feel, as well as original compositions. Jon Moffat, Class of 2017, also composed original pieces for the science-fiction world, and art students will exhibit their science-fiction themed artwork at the opening and closing of the play. "Just like Dungeons and Dragons players collaborate to create their adventures, this show had such a collaborative effort with designers, sets, music. Audiences will feel they are part of the adventure as well," Black said.

Public performances of She Kills Monsters begin at 7:30 p.m. April 28, May 4 and 5; and 2 p.m. May 6. The play is recommended for audiences 12-years-old and up.

After the performance on April 28, three Dungeons and Dragons experts will lead any community members who want to try a D&D game for their first (or 50th) campaign. Pizza will be served.

Tickets are $10 for general public, $9 for seniors and students, and free to Associated Students and Faculty with current Adams State identification. The box office is open from 2:30 p.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Tickets may also be reserved by calling 719-587-8499.