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UofSC Theatre Presents SHE KILLS MONSTERS

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Virtual performances will take place on November 6-15.

UofSC Theatre Presents SHE KILLS MONSTERS

The University of South Carolina will continue its season of virtual performances November 6-15 with an online production of the comic adventure She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms.

Admission is free with an option for donation. Show times are 8pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 3pm on Sundays. To reserve a virtual seat to the show and receive a streaming link, visit theatre.sc.edu and click "Buy Now."

Qui Nguyen's wildly popular play centers on Agnes Evans, a young woman coming to terms with the death of her geeky kid sister, Tilly. When Agnes discovers Tilly's homemade Dungeons and Dragons module, she embarks on a quest to complete her sibling's game and becomes immersed in an imaginary realm that opens her eyes to a fantastical world of secrets. Specially adapted for online performance, She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms is a raucous journey through the land of elves, wizards and faeries that, as reviewed by The New York Times, "will slash and shapeshift its way into your heart."

One of the most widely produced plays in the country, She Kills Monsters was quickly modified by the author in the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic to better suit virtual performance tools like Zoom. For UofSC's production, the creative team is continuing that adaptive spirit and, in many ways, taking it to another level.

"We spent a lot of the summer watching Zoom performances and having Zoom meetings ourselves, and we started wondering what was missing from that experience," says director Lindsay Rae Taylor, an adjunct theatre instructor who recently earned her MFA in Directing from UofSC. "It's great to be able to connect with people this way, but I didn't want our show to look like this tool that we use every day as a way of communicating."

What Taylor has concocted is a production that prioritizes protective health measures for all involved while freeing the design team to bring the play's fantasy world to life. To achieve this, the fully costumed actors (as well as custom-created puppets) are being filmed separately in front of a green screen, then inserted into scenes that utilize digitally created sets. The process allows for multiple actors to be part of each scenic environment while bringing a sense of depth to the typically two-dimensional virtual performance space.

"It's not film, it's not theatre - it's some new hybrid," says Taylor. "It's something that comes completely out of this pandemic." She adds that the unique presentation style is also perfectly suited to one of the play's main themes.

"It's about wish fulfillment," Taylor explains. "Through Dungeons and Dragons, the characters all get to do something that they normally can't, and that has special relevance for us now. Right now, storytelling feels like something we're all hanging on to, and it's a very cool opportunity that we're able to tell this story in this way."

Cast in the production are undergraduates Asaru Buffalo, Kinzie Correll, Lilly Heidari, Will Hollerung, Brendyn Hyslop, Kelsey McCloskey, Jordan Pontelandolfo, Jordan Postal, Susan Swavely and Michael Taylor, and MFA acting candidate Jennifer Moody-Sanchez. The production's digitally created scenery is by MFA scenic design candidate Nate Terracio. The show's fantastical costume and puppet designs are being built by MFA costume design candidate Heather Gonzalez. MFA lighting design candidate Lawrence Ware is creating lighting effects for the production while guest artist Danielle Wilson is designing sound elements. Film post-production and editing is by media arts graduate student Armand Woodley.

Post-performance Q&A sessions featuring the director, actors and design team will be held via Zoom immediately following the two Sunday matinee showings. Links for these talkbacks will be emailed to all patrons.

It's a unique production for an out-of-the-ordinary time, and Taylor says that makes for an even richer experience for the artists and the audience.

"When we look back on this, we all want to be able to say we really did something," says Taylor. "When we as theatre artists can get back to doing what we do, the things we've discovered through this process are going to make our art form better than it was before."

For more information on She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms or the theatre program at the University of South Carolina, contact Kevin Bush by phone at 803-777-9353 or via email at bushk@mailbox.sc.edu.



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