Students will delve into the fantasy world of Dungeons & Dragons on stage with the Binghamton University Theater Department’s spring production, She Kills Monsters.
“I don’t think we’ve ever put on a show that required onstage fights, over the top costumes or crazy sets like this,” said Patrick Saint Ange, who plays Miles. “It’s going to be a great show in every way. People should be ready to have fun and be nerdy with Dungeons & Dragons.
The action-packed play’s opening night begins at 8 p.m. on May 5 and performances will continue through May 8 at the Watters Theater. Those wishing to join the cast on their adventure can purchase tickets online or through the Anderson Center box office.
She Kills Monsters, by Qui Nguyen, is a comedy-drama set in the 90s that follows Agnes Evans after the death of her teenage sister, Tilly. Agnès discovers Tilly’s Dungeons & Dragons notebook and is transported to a world of demons and warriors. The play follows Agnes’ journey through Tilly’s imagination as she deals with the grief of losing her sister and battles monsters along the way.
Mary Chattin plays the lead role, Agnes, who is an average schoolteacher. Chattin trained and worked as an actress in Los Angeles for four years before coming to Binghamton University to pursue studies in political science and history. She missed the theater and returned to the stage with the Drama Department’s fall production, Triptych.
“One of my favorite things about Agnes is that she’s so close,” Chattin said. “She’s average, yes, but she’s like everyone else. She has regular issues, age and loss, all sorts of really relatable stuff. That’s really what makes Agnès stand out. Even though she has all these adventures throughout the play, at the end of the day, she’s not superheroic; She’s just average, and still okay.
Binghamton University has welcomed Brian Gillespie to guest direct on She Kills Monsters, a production Gillespie has been hoping to direct for years. Theater artist Gillespie holds an MFA from the University of Washington and has directed several shows in New York. He admires Nguyen’s writing style, the play’s many female roles who engage in fights on stage, and the play’s themes.
“It explores some themes that I think are interesting and timely about self-discovery and acceptance, and shows a glimpse of what it was like to be an LGBTQ teenager in the 90s who struggled with being cooped up. “, said Gillespie.
The production consists of fantastic props, sets and costumes, as well as on-stage combat. The actors worked with experienced director Gillespie and professional fight choreographer Jacqueline Holloway to create safe and realistic fights in the play.
While many of the cast were former Dungeons & Dragons fans before being cast, audiences can come without any knowledge of the game and still fully understand and appreciate the mystical game.
Throughout the play, and amid sword fights, adventure, and monsters, Agnes learns more about her sister and works through her grief.
“As fun as it sounds, I think She Kills Monsters is really a story about dealing with grief,” Chattin said. “It sends the message that you should enjoy life and people while you have them and not take your loved ones for granted.”
“[The show] it’s fun and it can be a bit silly at times, but there are real moments of human connection, dealing with loss, reconciliation, self-acceptance and acceptance of others,” said Gillespie. “It’s not a game that hits you in the head with these things. It’s in the context of this fantasy and this journey of discovery.