Arts

In ‘She Kills Monsters,’ Characters Use ‘Dungeons And Dragons’ To Cope With Loss

Tilly’s secrets are uncovered by her sister, with the use of the game "Dungeons and Dragons."
Tilly’s secrets are uncovered by her sister, with the use of the game "Dungeons and Dragons."
Credit Danielle Korman

Mourning the loss of a loved one comes in many different forms.

In the play “She Kills Monsters,” the central character, Agnes Evans, uses the game “Dungeons and Dragons” (D&D) to find a way to connect with her younger sister, Tilly, following her death.

Elm Street Cultural Arts Village in Woodstock has filmed their production of “She Kills Monsters” so viewers can enjoy it from the comfort of their homes. WABE’s Kevin Rinker spoke with director Zach Stolz and actor Libby Williams, who plays Agnes, about the production.

In the work, Agnes finds a D&D module that her sister created and left behind for her to play. As Agnes goes through the fantasy world, she uncovers secrets Tilly had kept from her during her life.

“The play kind of bounces back and forth between the real world of Athens, Ohio, and the fantasy world where she’s interacting with her sister’s D&D character,” Stolz explains.

“She Kills Monsters” has become one of the most performed plays in recent times. Stolz attributes that to the cast skewing younger, which makes it a popular choice for high school and college theater groups.

The theatrical nature of weaving together the fantasy world of D&D and the real world of Agnes as well as the stage combat also makes it a fun play to produce.

“It’s got all the frills, but it also, like, at its core, it’s a very honest and true story about grief, and processing grief,” said Stolz.

Williams explains that the D&D campaign helps Agnes discover new things about her sister, which makes it easier for her to cope with the loss.

“Knowing that her little sister wrote them down for her brings her such great comfort,” said Williams. “By the end, she has this big picture of who her sister actually was, and it’s so heartfelt and heartwarming.”

Instead of performing “She Kills Monsters” in front of a live audience, Elm Street filmed their performance over multiple nights and is offering it in a streaming format.

This was the first time Stolz had directed a work without any plan of it being performed in front of a live audience.

“This is a fully staged, fully put-together production as if we were going to have live audiences. We created it with that artistic intent, not that practical intent but that artistic one,” said Stolz.

For Williams, not having an audience to perform for changed the overall feeling of the production.

“It’s certainly weird to not have that,” said Williams. “That’s why I love live theater. You have that connection with all of the other humans in the room watching. So, it didn’t really change the way any of us were performing or acting, but it was kind of, you felt the loss, you felt, it always felt like a dress rehearsal.”

“She Kills Monsters” is available to stream on Elm Street Cultural Art Village’s website through Aug. 23.

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