The Clark State Community College Theatre Arts Program will present She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms via Live Stream at 8 p.m. on Friday, November 6 with an encore performance at 8 p.m., Saturday, November 7.
The show, written by Qui Nguyen, was designed specifically for an online performance and will be produced and co-directed by Theresa Lauricella, professor of Theatre at Clark State, and co-directed by Dan Hunt, technical director of the Clark State Performing Arts Center.
“We are using a number of platforms - Zoom and OBS and then BookTix for viewing,” said Lauricella. “Streampasses are available for the Live Stream for our first live performance and the recorded encore performance on November 7.”
She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms is a comedic romp into the world of fantasy role-playing games; it is a high-octane dramatic comedy laden with homicidal fairies, nasty ogres and '90s pop culture - a heart-pounding homage to the geek and warrior within us all.
Ava Hess is a junior at Global Impact STEM Academy and a Clark State College Credit Plus student. She will play the role of Tilly, an eccentric deceased girl who comes alive through the story-telling based game Dungeons and Dragons. She accompanies her “exceptionally normal” sister Agnes as they go to battle the mighty dragon Tiamat.
Hess, also a member of the Springfield Youth Arts Council and Youth Arts Ambassadors, said She Kills Monsters is her fifth live performance.
“The aspect of the show being virtual brings along a whole new set of obstacles we get to overcome as a cast,” said Hess. “Personally, one of the weirdest things is the fact I don't interact with the cast directly on stage. I had gotten so used to using body language and facial expressions as cues in my acting, but now that we're in front of a green screen it's been interesting learning how to do that without another person. I definitely feel like it has improved my skills though and enjoy the new ways we can act together.”
Hess said she was drawn to theater by a combination of friends and teachers in her life. “I have always been very extroverted and like standing out, and once I got on stage, I was able to harness my skills to create something wonderful,” she said. “It's one of the biggest ways I express myself while also building friendships along the way.”
Hess said She Kills Monsters has helped her branch out into newer and more complex roles. “I am very thankful for it,” she said. “The cast and crew have been a joy to work with, and I can't wait to share it with everyone else!”
Lauricella believes theatre practitioners might be the original “out-of-the-box thinkers.”
“We also do a lot of group work. Even people who don't like group work and do theatre are amazed when they realize how they are working together as a team,” Lauricella said. “It is the communication within the group of people putting on the show - the actors, the director, the set, costume, lighting and sound designers. And we are always thinking about the final group to join that conversation: the audience.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the performing arts for now, Lauricella said, but when the risks of the pandemic are less, and people are able to gather again, there will be some of the most dynamic theatre experiences ever enjoyed.
“Theatre has survived millennia,” said Lauricella. “Theatre roots date back before Thespis who in 504 BCE became the first actor. It has survived many societal conflicts: wars, famine, religious persecution, plagues. It has survived against other forms of entertainment: film, television and video gaming and even the more recent streaming media we have ready access to.”
Tickets for She Kills Monsters are available at: http://cstap.booktix.com. Adults cost $10 and students cost $5, plus fees.
“Audiences should tune in to see theatre in a newer, virtual medium,” said Lauricella. “It's unlike anything I've ever experienced before!”