Dungeons & Dragons inspired play “She Kills Monsters” at Fisher Theater


“She Kills Monsters” will be performed by students in the Iowa State Theater Department.

Students of the Iowa State Theatre Department will perform the play “She Kills Monsters,” a comedy-drama thrilling for Dungeons & Dragons fans, starting March 30 through April 2. The performers will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Fisher Theater.

“She Kills Monsters” is a coming of age story set in the 90s, written by Qui Nguyen, who is also known for “Raya and the Last Dragon” and “Strange World.” This story follows main character Agnes Evans, played by Kaitlyn Meylor, a senior in performing arts.

Before every performance, Meylor listens to a personalized playlist that she feels captures the essence of her character. At the end of this month, her earbuds will be exclusively playing the 90s biggest hits, as she loses herself in her character.

“I think she’s a very dynamic character; she’s very different than myself,” Meylor said. “It was very interesting for me to learn more about her and step into her shoes because she’s very guarded. She has a hard time opening up her emotions to other characters, so you don’t really get to know what’s in her head until near the end of the show.”

Throughout the play, Meylor feels her character becomes more powerful as she navigates feelings of loss and grief.

Meylor started acting at Spencer Community Theatre when she was 13 as a way to separate herself from her triplet siblings. Even with years of performance experience, this play is unique to other productions she has done due to the extensive stage combat used.

Brandon Brockshus, a kinesiology graduate student, has been training the students in stage combat on weekends.

“We had two Saturdays that were all-day stage combat workshops early in the rehearsal process just to give them all of that language because it’s new stuff for a lot of them,” said Cason Murphy, music and theatre associate professor and play director. “We sort of built that time in so they can learn those skills and we weren’t having to shove it into regular rehearsals.”

Since the beginning of the semester, rehearsals have been held from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday. Shortly before rehearsals started, auditions were held.

“Since this show requires a little bit more, it was a more substantial audition,” Murphy said. “We started off with students coming in and doing a monologue just to give us a sense of their acting skills.”

After narrowing down auditionees, Murphy said they had a stage fighting audition and puppeteer audition to find the perfect cast members. Puppeteers are needed for the large puppets created by Amanda Petefish-Schrag, music and theatre associate professor.

Petefish-Schrag has been working with puppets since she was young as both of her parents are puppeteers. Her puppets for “She Kills Monsters” portray dragons and other fantasy creatures that reference Dungeons and Dragons.

“A couple of months ago, I started building mock ups and models of some of the puppets, and over time we continue to develop and see how they work in a rehearsal then bring their full and final stages as we get to the performance,” Petefish-Schrag said.

Petefish-Schrag said acting with puppets is new to most of the cast members, and many performers will have to work together for some of the puppets due to their large size.

“These are not your typical hand puppets,” Petefish-Schrag said. “They’re pretty big in most instances, so the puppeteer is partially inside the puppet to manipulate these large structures.”

Zane McSheehy, a freshman in journalism and mass communication who portrays Chuck, has never been in a production that involved stage fighting or puppets.

“It’s made rehearsals really unique because we actually separated into three different groups,” McSheehy said. “There’s the fight core and then the puppet gang, so the puppeteers sort of have their own rehearsals that go on where they learn how to move with the different puppets.”

After seeing this production at a community theater in Knoxville, Iowa, McSheehy knew he wanted to be a part of it. He was drawn to the character of Chuck because he sees him as a funny, nerdy guy who tries to be rebellious.

“I definitely think you’ll get some laughs out of it, but at the same time, there’s also these sort of heavier themes–dealing with loss of loved ones, dealing with facing homophobia and having to face the unfortunate reality for some people of not being comfortable in your own skin and who you are,” McSheehy said.

General admission tickets for this 90-minute production are $20 and free to Iowa State students.