Behind the Curtain: She Kills Monsters

Behind the Curtain: She Kills Monsters

Written by Geordi Jones, Feature Editor. Originally published in Issue 9, Volume 31 of The University Register on Friday, February 22, 2019.

Stop! I’m going to dive head-first into a behind-the-scenes look at just what this production went through to get it to the stage, so if you didn’t get the chance to see She Kills Monsters and want to know what all the fuss is about, head on over the the Arts & Entertainment section on pages 8-9 to read Alisa’s summary of the show.

You all caught up? Great!

She Kills Monsters was this year’s student-run theatre production, and it was a roller coaster from start to finish. The script was thorny, the fights were heart-pounding, and the emotions were intense. A show like this required a ton of work, so we got started ASAP. Typically, the theatre season here at UMM is split into three distinct shows: a fall discipline production, a winter Meiningens show, and a spring children’s show. Each show had its own rehearsal period, which rarely overlap. In order to ensure we’d have enough rehearsal time, however, the Meiningens student theatre group needed to host auditions before this year’s fall show, Dead Man’s Cell Phone, had closed. Auditions lasted for two days, giving hopeful actors a chance to read excerpts from the script in varying configurations. After auditions came one day of callbacks. The cast list went up the following week for what would be one of the biggest shows Meiningens has produced in recent years, with a cast of 12 actors.

As soon as Dead Man’s Cell Phone closed, rehearsals for She Kills Monsters began right away. For the first several weeks of rehearsal, we rehearsed every weeknight from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays were the day that we workshopped all of the fights that peppered the show. These fights were all choreographed by Hannah Retzer, her debut as a fight choreographer.

Rehearsal progressed very quickly. We were encouraged to be “off-book”, or to have our parts completely memorized, only a month into the rehearsal process, so that we would be able to get scripts out of our hands and dive headfirst into the detail work.

Rehearsal was not without its problems, however. The script we had was barely edited, and had many spellings errors, incorrect names and facts, and general weird wordings. We spent nearly an entire day going through the script as a cast and editing it for clarity. A frequent outcry among the cast and crew was “Qui Nguyen [the playwright] has never played D&D!”

Speaking of never playing D&D, many of our cast had never played Dungeons & Dragons prior to being cast in She Kills Monsters. In an attempt at cast bonding, so that we could all feel closer to each other and like a more cohesive group. Many quotes from our two D&D one-shots have been filed away as inside jokes.

In the effort of encouraging cast bonding and putting in as much rehearsal time as possible, the entire cast and crew of the show came back to campus a week early. We had an entire week of rehearsal where we did not have to worry about conflicts with classes or other clubs. When the rest of the campus closed for the poor winter weather early in the semester, the cast all stuck together and (very safely) had rehearsal at our stage manager’s home. We were very cold, but we were also very dedicated!

Photo courtesy of Samuel Yuan.