Behind the Scenes of She Kills Monsters
by Colin Hughes
She Kills Monsters written by Qui Ngayen, is the 2018 fall theater production at University of Northern Iowa. This story takes audiences on a journey of fantasy adventure with the main character Agnes Evans as she battles her way through monster while overcoming the death of her sister. Directed by Matt Weedman is a former actor who received his MFA from the school of theatre film and television at university of California Los Angeles. He works with UNI students to put on this show at Strayerwood Theater. It premiers November 29, 2018 at 7:30 pm and runs to December 1st, with its closing show on December 2 2018 at 2:00pm.
Rehearsing for a musical can be laborious work. What fuels the actors and stage crew through the semester? Their strive for perfection and the intensity of anticipation of opening night keeps them going. It’s a Monday night, and everyone arrives from a long day of classes to come together as the cast for She Kills Monsters. After changing out of their day clothes and into workout wear, the actors begin their hard work in the basement to start their dance routines. Madison Kueper a freshman at UNI stated “For the three of us it’s a team effort to make this dance routine happen. Fighting for the spotlight is counterproductive and unprofessional.”
With the onlook of their choreographer Megan Lenstra, the actors go through the motions of their dance. Each one adding their own flair to fit the characters they were given. Making sure motions are smooth and purposeful in essential in making a cohesive show. After working out the kinks of misplaced steps and forgotten placing, the actors returned to the main set rejoining the rest of the crew.
In amazement of how much work had been put into the set since last seeing it, the actors took their places. The two sweeping staircases on both sides of the stage framed scenes perfectly as everyone worked through their dialogue and accompanying actions.
Multiple groups of crew members run out on stage holding puppets which made for a funny unexpected twist. Each one almost resembling a Muppets characters only in this show wielding weapons to kill. Lilith played by Rachel Winter, confronted these furry monsters by fighting to the death with the rest of her crew. According to Alex Knospe who attended the play closing night reported “The play was a lot funnier than I thought it was going to be. It looked like everyone was having a great time, including the actors.” This was good to hear knowing how much work each person had put into this production.
Agnes played by Marjorie Gast was elated when she heard she was cast as the main character to the show. “Beside how amazing it felt to get this roll it also came with a lot of pressure.” She says. Shown above we see her ascending the left staircase to help her sister slay a goblin. Her relationship with her co actors is what she said enjoyed the most about this process. The theater turned into their sanctuary after long days between classes and work. This is where they could all unleash their creativity.
Nearing the end of night, the final boss battle caped off rehearsal. Between the crew and actors there were a lot of moving parts to this scene. 10-foot-tall paper puppets called Bugbear monsters made their way out from the darkness from the wings of the stage. Surrounding our main hero’s, these two-sister slayed their way to the end of the show. Maddie Grissom who works as the stage manager says “This was the most difficult scene to manage. One wrong move will throw off this extremely calculated fight.” Even though everyone was exhausted they were determined to finish it off on a good note. Making sure their hard work translated into the final performance was top priority for the cast and crew. Alex Knospe said “I was impressed by the work that went into the stage when I first saw it. I really liked the dragons on the outer part of the stage and how effectively the actors used the stage when performing. I liked when they transitioned between scenes the way they rolled the sets onto the stage.” There is no doubt these students made an experience everyone could truly enjoy.