‘She Kills Monsters’ brings ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ game to life


Katherine Pach/The Daily Northwestern

Cast members rehearse for “She Kills Monsters.” The show, produced by Purple Crayon Players opens on Oct. 29 in McCormick Auditorium.

Yaqoob Qaseem, Assistant A&E Editor


Purple Crayon Players’ upcoming show “She Kills Monsters” brings a fantasy world to life with unique special effects including murderous fairies, a five-headed dragon and a gelatinous cube.

“It’s been a smash hit for audiences of all ages,” said Daniel Stompor, a Communication junior and director of the show. “There are a lot of crazy, fantastical fun things, and it doesn’t shy away from being a little bit crude sometimes, and a little bit crazy.”

“She Kills Monsters” tells the story of the character Agnes following the death of her younger sister Tilly, said Anna Backer, a Communication sophomore in charge of the show’s publicity. Agnes never completely understood Tilly before her death, but she ultimately gains a new perspective of her sister in the show when she embarks on a “Dungeons & Dragons” story written by Tilly.

In the role-playing game “Dungeons & Dragons,” players are typically guided through a fantasy story by a Dungeon Master’s narration. The play “She Kills Monsters” brings Tilly’s quest to life.

“It sounds very serious when I describe it, but it’s so humorous, and there are so many moments of snarky side comments and little sarcastic snippets,” Backer said. “It’s easily digestible as well, which I think is really important.”

Props used in the show include bedazzled swords, realistic armor and an artificial heart ripped from one of the actors, said Connor Scott, a Communication junior and the show’s producer.

“We are having live-action ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ in a pretty unique way,” Scott said. “We’ve really married technical elements with live production elements.”

The production involves many lights, sounds and puppets, among other elements, Scott said. At the end of the show, the actors create a five-headed dragon with different props.

Stompor said monsters featured in the show were developed using fan art and images from “Dungeons & Dragons” manuals. In the production, the monsters are made of objects within Tilly’s bedroom, the location where most of the scenes are set.

“We straddled the two ideas of realism and the imagination that it takes to write a ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ module,” Scott said. “Having the monsters come from the clutter of her room grounds the imagination in the reality of the situation.”

The show also has a large soundscape with sound effects and music throughout, an element normally reserved for musicals, Scott said. The soundtrack balances “Lord of the Rings”-style music with retro electronic music.

Brett Warner, a Communication senior who plays the Dungeon Master Chuck Biggs in the show, said the interplay of the props and the acting is enjoyable.

“You’re taking normally what you would describe and you’re making a physical manifestation of it on the stage, which is really cool for me as a Dungeon Master,” said Warner, who also plays “Dungeons & Dragons” in real life.

Stompor said he chose the show partly to allow the Purple Crayon Players’ audience to interact with issues such as sexuality and violence, which many believe young people are not prepared to deal with. Stompor also said he wanted to target middle school and high school audiences, as he believes this age range is not addressed enough by theater.

“This show never talks down to its audience,” Stompor said. “Young people, regardless of their age, really can handle complex issues in much the same way as adults can.”

Scott said he is excited to see everything come together in the production.

“We wanted something that was a spectacle,” Scott said. “At the same time though we wanted depth. We wanted to touch people’s hearts. We wanted it to be an intimate show that said something very poignant, and I think this show covers all grounds.”

“She Kills Monsters” will run from Oct. 29 to Oct. 31 in McCormick Auditorium.

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