The student news site of Whitney High School in Rocklin, Calif.

Whitney Update

The student news site of Whitney High School in Rocklin, Calif.

Whitney Update

The student news site of Whitney High School in Rocklin, Calif.

Whitney Update

Cast of fall play Nov. 1-5 combines action, humor, relatable themes

On the theater stage playing Lilith and Kaliope, Selena Macam and Lauren Turner practice their dance routines. Photo by Elias Whitehead

Starting from around mid to late August, Theater IV students began auditioning for a role in this year’s fall production. Since callbacks, students in tech theater and Theater IV have been dedicating their time only to fall play production. Currently, the classes contributing to the play are in tech week, in which students are finalizing costumes, working on set design, rehearsing, and putting everything together. With showtimes set for Nov. 1-5, current production demands levels of all around attention from the program.

“She Kills Monsters” is a play originally published in 2011 by Qui Nguyen. A drama-comedy that revolves around the protagonist Agnes Evans who loses her parents and sister Tilly in a car accident. The following story follows Agnes as she begins to reconnect with Tilly’s memory and the surrounding individuals from her high school as they enter a Dungeons and Dragons campaign, a game in which Tilly was the party leader. Due to the high school setting of the play, centered around teenage protagonists, the play has been picked up by a wide range of school productions, including University of Utah, Ohio State University, and Chico State University

“Every show we’ve done, at about this time, I go home and I say to Mrs. [Mallory] Ansley, ‘I don’t think we’re gonna make it. It’s just a disaster, you know, this is going wrong, that is going wrong,’ but somehow it comes together and it ends up being just fine,” Theater Director Mr. Joshua Ansley said.

One of the biggest aspects of this production in particular, for those with roles in acting specifically, is that the source material requires more action and physical acting than the average play. With “She Kills Monsters” being more action heavy, mostly in due part because of the Dungeons and Dragons subplot, fighting choreography is equally important to memorizing lines for students with acting roles. Ava Brown, who plays Tilly Evans, is responsible for learning both lines and action routines.

“We fully memorize lines and then also at home I review the videos of the action sequences which is a bit awkward because I practice them at home by myself. There’s points where I get kicked in the face and I need that to look realistic. I’m gonna actually be kicked in the face, but I need my reaction and how my body moves to be realistic,” Brown said.

With a title of “She Kills Monsters,” the theater program plans to give the moments of killing and triumph a lot of theatrical attention while keeping a light-hearted and comedic tone that harkens back to the source material.

“There’s a lot of comedy in it. There’s a lot of stage combat; sword fighting, pushing, shoving, choking, slashing necks, blood and limbs flying off. It’s probably not what you think it is if you don’t know the show,” Ansley said.

Given that the play has more violence when compared to the spring production of “Shrek The Musical.” It does contain content that is targeted more toward an older demographic, more specifically to those around a similar age to the protagonists. Some of the larger themes surrounding She Kills Monsters are that of grief, sexuality, identity and youth. All of which are told through a comedic lens.

“This definitely is heavy on because my character is gay. And it’s very out and known about that. There’s even a scene where Tilly, my character, makes out with her girlfriend. And I’m happy honestly that we’re doing something like that at school. And I’m just hoping that others are as accepting when seeing the play. And I also just love how we’re not scared of being able to show that this is what’s happening,” Brown said.

In the past, the theater program had put on productions not necessarily targeted toward a younger demographic. In the past few years, productions such as “Macbeth,” “The Sound of Music,” and “Little Women,” have tackled similar themes. The inclusion of a protagonist’s sexuality being a major plot point however sets “She Kills Monsters” apart.

“It’s an important cultural stamp on particularly where we are at socially in the arts, in theater. At somewhat of a turning point in society where we are still grappling with and trying to understand who people are and we’re doing that at the same time as kids are growing up from the time they basically hit puberty to getting into high school. They’re trying to figure out who they are. At the same time society is trying to figure out who we all are. And it’s a lot. The play really takes an interesting approach with that because it allows the expression of that to come out, at the same time, it doesn’t really preach anything,” Ansley said.

With these ideas of “She Kills Monsters” potentially becoming a platform in which the campus can perpetuate a given political agenda or communicate controversial topics. The main point of the play is not necessarily a political one. Rather more to comment on the complexities of a modern teenager dealing with the grief of a loved one and learning to more connect with others through stories and games.

Ansley said, “A lot of times in order for us to deal with with social issues or cultural things. We tend to do that really well through games. I could be at a Kings game and standing next to somebody for the entire fourth quarter because it’s a crazy game, and I don’t know the person’s name. I haven’t said a word to them the whole time. I don’t know what they look like. I will never talk to them again. But something happens and we turn in high five each other. There’s something about fiction and games that brings us together and helps us to understand greater truths. And that’s what’s really neat about this play is that it sort of explores it through the imaginations of others and I think if we were able to do more of that, and less sort of straight on arguing and making things political and so forth, we would discover that we actually are more in common with one another than we think and that these things don’t have to make us or ruin us necessarily.”


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