An In-depth Look at the Fall Play: She Kills Monsters


Beatrice Parr, Co-Editor-in-Chief

From Wednesday, October 16th to Friday, October 18th, the school auditorium was the place to be. At 7:00 pm, students, parents, and faculty filed in and found their seats, eager to see Latin’s latest fall play, She Kills Monsters, the nineties play gaining popularity at high schools around the country. The story follows a young woman as she plays “Dungeons and Dragons” in her attempt to learn more about her late sister, with the scene flipping back and forth from the fantasy land of Dungeons and Dragons and the reality of American high school. From the action-packed fight scenes to the hilarious one-liners, there was never a dull moment in the performance. 
Putting on such a complex show was no easy feat. The play had been in the works since April of 2019 when Mr. Baer picked the script. Senior Lindley McCutcheon, who played a D&D fantasy warrior, recalls, “We had auditions the last week of the school year and we came in a week or two before school started. We rehearsed basically from then until the day after the show when we took the set down.” While most plays are time-intensive, this show’s unique challenges required even more rehearsal than usual. Mr. Baer, who put it all together, explains, “Over half of our rehearsal time was devoted to these things that were really specific challenges to our show and you couldn’t do the show without them.”
The cast was more than up for the challenge. “It was a really fun and awesome cast that was up for it right from the beginning, ready to try anything,” Mr. Baer said, “They didn’t complain about anything, so that made it really easy and kind of exciting.” A bond quickly formed between cast members, as Lindley remembers, “My favorite part about the show was probably the people just because of how close the cast gets and it’s such a good time. It’s the perfect way to end a school day, knowing that I’m going to go into three hours with my favorite people.” Between their hard work and support for one another, this cast had what it took to put on a compelling performance.
To get everything done, the theater department collaborated with many creative individuals outside of the cast. Mr. Baer recalls, “Mr. Hallstein, of course, was working on the set and the monsters and everything, Mr. Schneider was working on the projections, and we had Nora Cheng do animation for it, so we were incorporating all of these different elements to make it work. There were just so many moving pieces.”
Lindley stresses that in order to have a clear storyline, “We wanted to work on having a versatile set,” and Mr. Hallstein was eager to make that happen. She says, “Over the summer Thad Hallstein works really hard with coming up with a really cool 3D blueprint that he presents the first week of school.” From there, the cast, Mr. Hallstein, and Latin’s Stagecraft class worked together to create the set, monsters, and props for the show. The setting, as dynamic as the plot, changes several times throughout the play. The crew helped make these quick changes a reality, which was especially impressive considering no body besides Natalie, a stage manager, had ever done theatre before.
Another ongoing challenge was perfecting the fight scenes. Lindley says that in addition to working with Ms. Durant, “We worked a lot with some outside choreographers who we loved and we spent probably two-thirds of our rehearsals working on fights.” Mr. Baer describes this as “one of the biggest challenges just because we didn’t get to spend as much time acting.”
While the set-making and combat scenes drained the cast physically, the show’s heavy topics drained the actors emotionally. Junior Ivy Schenk, who played the protagonist’s sister, Tilly, explained, “Because it discusses some serious topics, it was important to have some conversations”. The harsh language in the show also demanded discussion: “There’s some language that is offensive that we felt was important to keep but it opened us to a lot of conversations so that was a hard thing,” says Ivy. But grappling with these difficult topics was ultimately worth it for Lindley who said, “It was also one of the most fulfilling things that we were able to change people’s view of things.”
Thanks to the group’s hard work, all of these moving pieces seamlessly came together to bring the story to life. In Ivy’s experience, “all of these things created such a cohesive world that I really felt like I was a part of.” The intricacies of the production drew the audience in as well. “I thought the performance was great. I liked the fantasy aspect of it with all the sword fighting and the monsters as well as the dragon – it was really fun to have all the action. I also thought all the characters were hilarious,” says junior Sam Szykowny. 
As people saw how great the play was, more and more people came. Ivy speculated that, “People were definitely telling their friends to come to it because as we went on, each night the audience grew and also seemed more excited. By the last night, the audiences’ reactions were really great, and you could tell that people were really having a good time.” Mr. Baer agrees, stating that for a show that is neither well known nor musical, “it was a really good turnout and that was mostly from the preview and from word of mouth about how it was funny and exciting.”
After months of hard work, She Kills Monsters was a success, with audience members who had never even heard of the show raving about it for days after the performance. Ivy puts it well, saying, “I feel like it was one of the best shows that I’ve been a part of or seen at Latin.”