UW Theatre and Dance to Present “She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms”
The University of Wyoming Theatre and Dance Department will be presenting the wildly popular comedy-adventure, “She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms,” as a streamed online production. The show streams February 23rd – 28th at 7:30 p.m. (MST). Tickets are free for UW students or $5 for anyone else and can be purchased by contacting the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts Box Office at www.uwyo.edu/finearts or by calling 307-766-6666. Box Office personnel will provide viewers with instructions on how to access the livestream.
The play takes place in both the real world and the game world of the popular game Dungeons and Dragons. When the protagonist, Agnes, finds her late sister Tilly’s Dungeons and Dragons notebook containing an unfinished campaign, she embarks on a journey of discovery into the imaginary world that was Tilly’s refuge, trying to connect with her sister one last time.
Specially adapted for online performance, this action-packed adventure filled with unlucky mages, dark elves, homicidal fairies, TikTok dancing cheerleaders, and shapeshifting beasts is a heart-pounding homage to the geek and warrior within everyone.
“I love that this story thoughtfully examines young, teenage culture in a way that few plays I’ve read do,” says Director Landee Lockhart. “We meet cheerleaders, bullies, jocks, and geeks and all of them are multifaceted characters.”
Producing art successfully has been challenged by the Covid-19 Pandemic, and the UW Theatre and Dance faculty have had to take creative approaches in order to keep students safe. The cast and crew of She Kills Monsters held completely virtual Zoom rehearsals, the first read through being in November of 2020.
Tristan Hughes, a sophomore Musical Theatre Performance major and the student actress who plays Farrah the Fairy, say that rehearsal over Zoom has been challenging, but are necessary. “We are living in a pandemic, and we want to be safe, but we also want to continue our artform. This is a way we can do it.”
The show was filmed over the span of one week, each student actor performing for the camera in their own sanitized, sealed room at the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts. All actors operated their own camera equipment and communicated with the rest of the cast and crew through Bluetooth earbuds, one actor performing solely from her own home.
Anna McClow, a sophomore Musical Theatre Performance and Chemistry double major and student actor playing the protagonist Agnes, says that performing in these conditions proved to have its challenges. “Performing in isolation, doing everything on our own, has been very isolating. But this cast is insanely talented, it’s absurd…I’m just always baffled by how talented this cast is and how easy everyone is to work with.”
This production is particularly notable for its high level of student collaboration, with students serving as associate scenic/props designer, technical director, stage managers, dramaturg, and choreographer. The choreography and stage combat has been especially difficult given the Zoom teaching format and the confined movement spaces.
Carson Lee Almand, a freshman Musical Theatre Performance major and the actor playing The Great Mage Steve, explains that he hopes this type of performing will assist the department in years to come. “Obviously, we cannot do theatre the same way due to Covid, but it is very unique to do a show through Zoom…It’s going to be interesting a year from now, how we take this type of virtual theatre and implement it when things get back to normal.”
The actors have expressed difficulty in not being able to work face to face with other cast and crew members as well as not being able to feed off a live, in person audience, but this new format does allow them to learn skills they never would have learned such as acting for the camera. Many feel they have become much more technologically versed and have a better understanding of the backstage aspect of theatre.
“This is a story of friendship, love, and loss,” says director Landee Lockhart. “It is a meditation on how we make peace with what we cannot change and learn to forgive ourselves, forging new pathways in the process.”
“She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms” streams February 23rd – 28th at 7:30 p.m. (MST). Tickets are free for UW students or $5 for anyone else and can be purchased by contacting the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts Box Office at www.uwyo.edu/finearts or by calling 307-766-6666.