Kay Ramis (left) going over notes on entrances with Kayla Shaffer and Aubrey Harris (right) in the Marinoff Theater. Photo by Courtney Bell

Behind the scenes on Shepherd CTS preparing for She Kills Monsters This Weekend 

The Shepherd University’s Contemporary Theater Studies (CTS) has announced they will perform “She Kills Monsters” by Qui Nguyen, directed by the Director of the Contemporary Theater Studies Program K.B. Saine, for two weekends in the Marinoff Theater. The show will conduct fight choreography, puppets, and dancing based on the well-known and popular game Dungeons and Dragons.  

Here’s how CTS prepares for a play such as this one. 

First, the main focus was to see where the cast’s comfort levels were and have them work slowly and safely to learn specific movements for the play. For “She Kills Monsters” it is combat. 

“The first thing to assess is what are people’s experience with movement. So I had a few dancers in there, I had a couple who have done cheerleading, and then there were people who didn’t have any experience with kind of martial arts or physical choreography,” Fight choreographer for the play and Assistant Professor of Theater John Terry said. 

He has been taking theater workshops for stage combat for a few years and was able to create the choreography based on the cast’s various degrees of experience. 

Kayla Davis (left) and Sophia Mayrand (right) practicing stage combat in the Marinoff Theater. Photo by Courtney Bell. 

While Terry was building their endurance, the technical crew built puppets so the actors could work with them. Some get to operate the puppets, which are created as the monsters they have to fight in the play.  

For some plays such as this one, some characters are played as puppets. Some student actors manage them while others do not. 

However, overall, student actors believe that puppets help them on stage with casting and choreography.  

“It (a puppet) allows you to have more characters instead of dressing everybody up in a costume. It’s more creative and wider range, and I feel less scared of hitting the puppets than I do a person,” student actor Kayla Davis said.   

Everyone partaking in the play’s production for the next two weekends strive to create a play which allows the audience to emotionally live with the characters and plot. 

The show itself has lighthearted moments but also contains many moments when the audience is drawn in by the sudden shift of emotions, according to student actor Sophia Mayrand.

The characters battle their feelings and try to handle them in the moment, which is why actors like Mayrand have a great time getting to know the show, her character, and sharing the experience with the audience.  

“I’m excited for the audience to experience reality bending and especially for those in the audience who grew up playing D&D to see their childhood come to life,” Mayrand said.  

The show dates are on for two weekends and will be in Shepherd’s Marinoff Theater, beginning this weekend on April 5 and 6 at 7 p.m. Next weekend they will show on April 7 at 2 p.m., April 12 and April 13 at 7 p.m. and April 14 at 2 p.m. All performances are pay-what-you-will and free for students with valid IDs.  

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