Director DC Wright: It’s about a girl named “Agnes,” and she has lost her family in a car accident. And so she is now struggling with that loss and particularly with the loss of her sister, Tilly. And she finds that Tilly used to play Dungeons and Dragons.
Shannon Fields, Actress – Tilly: In the game, everybody can be everything they ever wanted to be. And, I just love it, because she found a way to adapt the world to her.
Sarah Shannon, Actress – Agnes: Agnes gets to know her through the playing of the game. And she kind of gets to know herself, as well, with how she treated Tilly in real life.
DC Wright: I read it, and it was awesome. It’s fun. It’s very different than some of the other plays that have been going on. It was a very full room in production meetings. And we needed all the people there to make something [scenes from SKM production meetings] of this size and scale work the way that it did. It took a lot of effort.
It was not a small project to make all that happen.
Technical Director Dan Schmidt: So what is different about “She Kills Monsters” is that is an extremely combat heavy and movement heavy piece. We’re doing high falls off of part of the scenery. We have people who are sliding down parts of the scenery. We just have combat happening over the entire expanse of the 4 x 50 foot stage.
DC Wright: As a stage combat guy, it was also fun to not just have a play that had fights in it, but these fights were fantasy fights. So I was going to get to fight with monsters and… I’ve played D&D since I was in high school, so it was fun for me to be able to transition that for the first time ever to a professional setting for me.
Shannon Fields, Actress – Tilly: We couldn’t have done this show without DC’s fight knowledge. So having him as a fight choreographer and a director was really good. Because then, it’s not two people who coordinate ideas. He knows what he wants the show to look like. And what he wants the fights to look like. And where he wants people when…
Stephanie Ricoy, Actress – Lilith: Like each director has a different way of approaching things. He clearly had to take 100 percent control in combat.
That was like all him. I don’t think that anyone else could have contributed in the slightest.
Sarah Shannon, Actress – Agnes: A lot of times, DC would start to choreograph something and he would have Caitlin and I just clean it up. Or he would have us choreographing something while he worked on something else. So it was pretty fast and furious, because there were so many fights to choreograph.
Stephanie Ricoy, Actress – Lilith: And he really had a vision for what he wanted. The way that I took it was that a lot of was just visually… how it looked to him, and so there would be moments where he would be like, “Wait, can you guys switch places?”
“Can you take three steps forward?” Just because it fit what he saw, what he wanted to see on stage.
Scenic Designer Scott Bouillon: I wanted the set to be able to fade in and out of the picture. So I wanted to be able to isolate people, so we didn’t see as much as the fantasy and still get the idea of different locations… for when we’re in the real world. I wanted to give them, basically, a playground they would be able to move around and travel on their journey.
Dan Schmidt: Scott and I went through several passes of design… “This would take long to build, this would be too expensive,” that sort of thing… And when he paired it down, we got it to about four-and-a-half weeks of actual construction and painting and finishing time.
Dan Schmidt: So there was a constant shifting around, about a dozen permutations of what the design was going to be because… the director would tell, Scott, the scenic designer, “Hey, I want this type of thing here… And Scott would say, “Okay, I can do that, but then the lighting or projectionist would say, “Whoa, you can’t put that there” I can’t get to it” or “That blocks me on this.” The most difficult thing we had was getting everybody to get a consensus of where everything was going to be.
DC Wright: We had never had access, at least not on this scale, so rather than just a lighting designer, we actually… ended up getting a lighting designer and projectionist designer, so we had two different designers working on that kind of light side. And, instead of just the costume designer, I had a costume designer and a monster designer. Because not only were we clothing the people, but there was such a large population of… [Scenes of actors in costume] creatures, monsters, that had to take place in the play. You can’t have a play called, “She Kills Monsters” without some monsters.
Costume Designer Anthony Body: Some of the inspiration came from the original Dungeons and Dragons, and also looking at comics… and other things outside in the world. And then you take that interpretation and make it your own.
Director DC Wright: Like playing when you’re a kid, a lot of things we do we do in acting classes are getting people to be able to pretend with the same sort of audacity that they did as children naturally. When kids play, they play. When they are doing something, they do it, until they don’t want to do it anymore. And we lose that as we become adults. We become more ingrained in how important it is for us in the social world to be accepted and viewed as we want to be viewed and not be viewed as weird, which sometimes actors can be when they are committed like they need to be to make the character real.
Anthony Boyd: There were so many challenges for each of the characters. One challenge was how to make Lillith look like Lillth… because Lillith had one side naked and the other side having clothes.
Stephanie Ricoy, Actress – Lilith: I had seen it and I was like “Do you know who you cast as Lillith? Are you sure you want me to wear this costume?” I was pretty scared because it was so revealing.
Costume Designer Anthony Boyd: But most of all, you had to take time to think outside of the box. “How can I make this happen? How can I make this come to life?”
Stephanie Ricoy, Actress – Lillith: You just have to have a ton of confidence, and so, as long as I felt comfortable on stage, I knew that the audience was going to be comfortable with what I was wearing, as well.
Shannon Fields, Actress – Tilly: When Tony did his presentation at the read-through, I remember holding those drawings and being amazed. Because I was so intrigued by everything he had planned to do. Sometimes, you were like, “Oh that’s too much. But that show wasn’t because that’s how it is supposed to be. It’s supposed to be larger than life.
Costume Designer Anthony Boyd] This ogre was a big challenge for all of us. The ogre was made out of many different types of foam, some even about mats. Everything about it… it was a process. You had to use pipes and cheesecloth, and a lot of spray paint.
Director DC Wright: Most shows don’t call for big, five dragon heads and a nine-foot-tall ogre. We actually worked out to have one of the puppet masters from Sesame Street came and did a two-day workshop on our campus to help us design and build the ogre.
Costume Designer Anthony Boyd: And, most importantly, it was hard on us, because we want this creation to come to life. So it was very time consuming, but at the end of the day it was the bomb. It was legit. It was scary. But it was a long road of making the creation come to life.
Sarah Shannon, Actress – Agnes: Once we got into tech week, we only had two days to put everything together… as lighting cues, sound cues, and normally they would have a two-week process to do that in the real world. And we had two days, so it was a lot of patiently waiting for the next thing to go, and then once it happens, it was moving really quickly.
Shannon Fields, Actress – Tilly: Every moment was incredible. When you work on a production, there is always days where you are like, “Ahhhh, I’m tired, I don’t feel like doing this today.” And I didn’t have that once with this show.
Stephanie Ricoy, Actress – Lillith]: We are a big family, and so I think everyone is there to support each other and to help as many ways they can.
Costume Designer Anthony Boyd: I love this theatre program. I came from another university and this one I would say helped benefit my talents and benefit other people’s talents.
Scott: We have a lot of opportunity to support a lot of great technical elements because we have three programs of acting that we get to support.
Technical Director Dan Schmidt: So the students who come here get a lot of opportunities right off the bat… which they don’t get a bigger schools. So our students have excellent portfolios and résumés when they leave. They are tired, but they are used to that grind and have that ability to say, “Okay, I’m going to build [Scenes of students in WIU theatre program] something in a short amount of time, as to my satisfaction. And they can get it done.
Costume Designer Anthony Boyd: The challenges were very hard. Trust me, they were very hard. But at the end of the day, I’m proud of it.
Stephanie Ricoy, Actress – Lillith: It was beautiful. Her projections just looked absolutely amazing. And, in the end, just knowing that everyone really enjoyed the performance. It was very nice.
Director DC Wright: I mean, it was really, really fun to do. Audiences really enjoyed it. I really enjoyed watching all the actors do their work. Again, all of the elements coming together… I think it was a very highly successful production.