‘She Kills Monsters’: Play explores grief through ‘Dungeons & Dragons’

Sac State theatre program will perform the play Wednesday to Nov. 3


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From left to right: Scarlett Pascoal (Lilith), Ana Muntean (Agnes), Nicole Kelly (Tilly) and Dagney Hollmann (the dark elf) rehearse scenes of the show Oct. 16. The center of the stage is painted to resemble a ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ campaign board.

Aline Henda

Not all monsters are five-headed dragons like the one in “She Kills Monsters,” but everybody has one, and the play promises to deliver a tribute to warriors everywhere.

Sacramento State’s Department of Theatre & Dance will perform “She Kills Monsters” Wednesday to Nov. 3 and tells the story of Agnes Evans, a young woman grieving the death of her younger sister, 15-year-old Tilly.

While cleaning her childhood home, Agnes finds a “Dungeons & Dragons” notebook with a module written by her sister. Agnes decides to play the game with the help of dungeon master Chuck and discover the sister she barely knew. The adventure helps her find closure and acceptance.

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From left to right, Scarlett Pascoal (Lilith), Ana Muntean (Agnes), Nicole Kelly (Tilly) and Dagney Hollmann (the dark elf) rehearsing scenes of the show ‘She Kills Monster’ Oct. 16. The play revolves around main character Agnes playing a ‘Dunegons and Dragons’ campaign using a module created by her deceased sister.

The show is the first theater production this season and is packed with swordplay, stage fighting, funny lines, dramatic music and a dance number.

“We got the comedy, we got the excitement, we got the drama and the wow factor – the fantasy factor,” said Michele Felten, the play’s director and professor of Theatre & Dance. “But at the heart of it we got the relationship between the two sisters, which is poignant.” 

Felten has been at Sac State since 2006 and has done a variety of plays, mostly classics. This time she chose a modern show covering trendy topics such as fantasy games and the LGBTQ community. Felten said she has been considering this play for a couple of years, and this season she had the right team available to create the monsters and the set and the right actors. 

Ana Muntean, 21, a Sac State senior theatre major, plays Agnes. The actress said she applied aspects from her character to her own personal life, to push herself to achieve better. 

“I think this play is one of the most extraordinary things I have been a part of,” Muntean said. “I’m learning so much. The director has pushed me in so many different ways that I didn’t even know I could be pushed.” 

According to Muntean, the show focuses on appreciating who you have in your life and taking a moment to genuinely connect with people.

“This play can be something to everybody,” Muntean said.

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A red dragon head used for the puppet head of a five-headed dragon puppet. Sac State will premiere theater production “She Kills Monsters” on Wednesday.

Nicole Kelly, a theatre major who plays Tilly, said the play is relevant for today’s audience. 

“D&D is super big right now because of ‘Stranger Things,’” she said, referring to the Netflix series. “It’s a very modern play, which we don’t always do here. A lot of people can relate to (it).”

However, the show is not just about tabletop fantasy. Liam Worrell-Olson, a recent Sac State alumni and assistant director for the play, says that the real heart of the show is the message that there are monsters in everybody’s life, such as grief, loss and depression.

The show has characters that connect with people in different circumstances. Themes such as LGBTQ identity, acceptance, bullying and relationships are talked about.

“By fighting the monsters in the play, Agnes is able to become stronger and confident in herself,” Worrell-Olson said. “And she comes to this emotional maturity, and heals.”

The students had six weeks to learn their lines, fight scenes and dance choreography. Puppeteering is also involved to bring the play’s monsters to life.

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Monster heads will be individually operated by student puppeteers. The green and blue head are two of five total heads that will make up a monster.

Getting all the components together, from the set to the monsters to a realistic “Dungeons & Dragons” campaign, was challenging, but Felten said she is excited with the fantasy component.

“I have never done anything like this,” Felten said. “This is very new for me.” 

However, Dagney Hollmann, a theater major who will portray a dark elf in the play, described the production as a familiar space for her.

“I was always into video games, and ‘Dungeons & Dragons,’ so it’s really fun for me to go back to that place in my imagination that I used to go to when I was a kid,” Hollmann said.

Ticket prices vary based on performance dates, for more information and tickets please visit the Hornet Tickets website.