Rescheduled Performance Times
The UofSC Department of Theatre and Dance has announced a postponement of the first scheduled weekend of online airings of the play She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms by Qui Nguyen, as well as newly added opportunities to see the production.
Airings scheduled for November 6, 7 and 8 have been postponed. The revised schedule, including newly added times, is:
Thursday, November 12 at 8pm (added performance)
Friday, November 13 at 8pm
Saturday, November 14 at 3pm (added performance)
Saturday, November 14 at 8pm
Sunday, November 15 at 3pm
Sunday, November 15 at 8pm (added performance)
A previously scheduled audience Q&A session will still be offered as planned immediately following the Sunday 3pm airing.
Those who have reserved tickets to a canceled date are asked to reserve their space again on our ticket reservation site. Tickets continue to be free. Links to view the production will be emailed to all ticketholders one day before each airing.
Qui Nguyen’s wildly popular play centers on Agnes Evans, a young woman coming to terms with the death of her geeky kid sister, Tilly. When Agnes discovers Tilly’s homemade Dungeons and Dragons module, she embarks on a quest to complete her sibling’s game and becomes immersed in an imaginary realm that opens her eyes to a fantastical world of secrets. Specially adapted for online performance, She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms is a raucous journey through the land of elves, wizards and faeries that, as reviewed by The New York Times, “will slash and shapeshift its way into your heart.”
One of the most widely-produced plays in the country, She Kills Monsters was quickly modified by the author in the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic to better fit virtual performance tools like Zoom. For UofSC’s production, the creative team is continuing that adaptive spirit and, in many ways, taking it to another level.
“We spent a lot of the summer watching Zoom performances and having Zoom meetings ourselves, and we started wondering what was missing from that experience,” says director Lindsay Rae Taylor, an adjunct theatre instructor who recently earned her MFA in Directing from UofSC. “It’s great to be able to connect with people this way, but I didn’t want our show to look like this tool that we use every day as a way of communicating.”
What Taylor has concocted is a production that prioritizes protective health measures for all involved while freeing the design team to bring the play’s fantasy world to life. To achieve this, the fully costumed actors (as well as custom created puppets) are being filmed separately in front of a green screen, then inserted into scenes that utilize digitally created sets. The process allows for multiple actors to be part of each scenic environment while bringing a sense of depth to the typically two-dimensional virtual performance space.
“It’s not film, it’s not theatre – it’s some new hybrid,” says Taylor. “It’s something that comes completely out of this pandemic.” She adds that this unique presentation style is also perfectly suited to one of the play’s main themes.
“It’s about wish fulfillment,” Taylor explains. “Through Dungeons and Dragons, the characters all get to do something that they normally can’t, and that has special relevance for us now. Right now, storytelling feels like something we’re all hanging on to, and it’s a very cool opportunity that we’re able to tell this story in this way.”
Cast in the production are undergraduates Asaru Buffalo, Kinzie Correll, Lilly Heidari, Will Hollerung, Brendyn Hyslop, Kelsey McCloskey, Jordan Pontelandolfo, Jordan Postal, Susan Swavely and Michael Taylor, and MFA acting candidate Jennifer Moody-Sanchez. The production’s digitally-created scenery is by MFA scenic design candidate Nate Terracio. The show’s fantastical costume and puppet designs are being built by MFA costume design candidate Heather Gonzalez. MFA lighting design candidate Lawrence Ware is creating lighting effects for the production while guest artist Danielle Wilson is designing sound elements. Film post-production and editing is by media arts graduate student Armand Woodley.
It’s a unique production for an out-of-the-ordinary time, and Taylor says that makes for an even richer experience for the artists and the audience.
“When we look back on this, we all want to be able to say we really did something,” says Taylor. “When we as theatre artists can get back to doing what we do, the things we’ve discovered through this process are going to make our art form better than it was before.
For more information on She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms or the theatre program at the University of South Carolina, contact Kevin Bush by phone at 803-777-9353 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.