For one weekend only, Coupeville High School’s theater department will take audiences on a fantastical journey.
“She Kills Monsters,” a heartfelt adventure by Qui Nguyen that takes place largely inside the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons, opens Thursday at Coupeville High School. The show runs May 11-13, with performances beginning at 7 p.m.
The play follows Agnes, a young woman who, after losing her family in a tragic accident, gets to know her younger sister, Tilly, through a Dungeons and Dragons campaign that Tilly wrote before her death. Director Stefanie Ask described the play as part drama, part comedy and part “nerdy adventure.”
“I think it’s going to speak to a lot of people on a lot of different levels,” she said.
Like the fantasy role-playing game it is based upon, the play features plenty of battles with monsters. Coupeville Elementary School teacher Grace Castle taught the cast stage combat skills and choreographed the fight scenes.
Senior Wynter Arndt, who plays Tilly, shared that the stage fights are the parts of the show she is most excited for audiences to see. Though the fight choreography was difficult to learn, Arndt said it was a lot of fun and made her first time participating in the school’s drama program a great experience.
The show, which takes place in 1995, is also a blast from the past, chock-full of nostalgic 90’s pop culture references. For Ask, who grew up in the 90’s, these references and other “ridiculous jokes” sprinkled throughout the show help keep it lighthearted, even as it deals with themes of grief, loss and identity.
Cast members shared that bringing the show’s heavier elements to the stage has been a rewarding experience. Senior Brenna Silveira, who plays Agnes’s best friend, Vera Martin, said the show’s ending always makes her want to cry.
“I’m excited for (audiences) to experience all of the different emotions of the play,” she said.
Several cast members also said that themes relating to queer identities that are prevalent in the play were also particularly meaningful to them. Senior Adrian Burrows, who plays the Dungeons and Dragons barbarian Lilith and her closeted, real-world counterpart Lily, said that as a queer person, it is special to portray a character who can’t openly share part of herself with the world.
“It fills my heart to show people that it’s okay,” Burrows said.
Senior Milo Socha, who plays Dungeons and Dragons demon Orcus, said he feels this show is important because of its potential to help young people gain confidence in their own identities.
“If I saw this in middle school, I would’ve probably found out who I was a lot earlier,” he said.
Ask said of the many things the cast has to be proud of from this show, their support and care for one another takes the cake.
“They’ve taken on something really difficult and made a safe space for each other to engage with it the best they can as a group,” she said.
Senior Birdie Sinclair, who plays Agnes, said that the freedom to be someone else temporarily is part of what makes theater a safe space for her.
“Despite the fact that I have really bad social anxiety, there is something really fun about getting to perform,” she said.
Costume, hair and makeup designer Marz Safford, a sophomore, described a similar experience.
“I was in a way sort of an outcast, so to find a place where people have fun together and that you can fit in easily and kind of just be yourself is just something that’s extraordinary to find,” Safford said.
Tickets to “She Kills Monsters” cost $10 for adults, $7 for students and $5 for Associated Student Body members and are sold at the door. In addition to stage combat, this show contains depictions of bullying and mild language.