‘She Kills Monsters’ plays on Dungeons & Dragons

Allegheny’s Playshop Theatre debuted the critically-acclaimed play “She Kills Monsters” by Qui Nguyen on Thursday, April 28. Performances will continue to take place at 8 p.m. today and tomorrow, with the final showing at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 1 in Gladys Mullenix Black Theater in the Vukovich Center for Communication Arts.
The performance is the first to be directed by Assistant Professor of Theatre kt shorb, who was hired by the college in April of 2021. Before coming to Allegheny, shorb spent time working with the Generic Ensemble Company in Austin, Texas and has also spent time directing operas.
While there is no singing in “She Kills Monsters,” the show does not lack in spectacle.

Mary Walsh-Hilf, ’22, is one of two students writing their senior comprehensive project about the play. Photo contributed by Margaret Jumonville.

“People should come see the show because it has a lot of exciting fantasy elements you don’t usually see,” lead actor Mary Walsh-Hilf, ’22, said. “There’s puppets, stage combat, swords and a lot of other exciting things. On the dram

a side, there’s also a really genuine relationship between two sisters, which is touching.”
The show is based on the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. With many monsters to portray, the use of puppets is a large part of the show. However, these are not your average handheld sock puppets.
“Most of the puppets are full-body ones and some even take two people to operate,’’ Walsh-Hilf said. “The script doesn’t explicitly say that puppets are needed so that’s just left up to creative interpretation. It calls for monsters and things of that universe which could probably be portrayed by an actor, but puppets just make it more fun.”
With lots of puppets to operate and multiple people required for some, the show needed a larger cast than any of the Playshop’s other shows this year.
“This is the largest cast that the Playshop has had in a long time,” shorb said. “Part of that is there are 10 speaking roles, which is bigger than usual, and then on top of that’s six people that we call the Monster Corps.”
The demand for actors was met in auditions and reflected a general excitement for the show the Playshop chose to perform.
“Students seemed really excited and a lot of people auditioned for the show,” shorb said. “When I was hired last year, they asked me what shows I’d be interested in directing. I sent the group about six shows and this was one that a lot of people had been wanting to do and so it was a pretty clear choice.”

Liz Driscoll, ’25, plays Tilly, the deceased younger sister of the protagonist and Dungeons & Dragons fanatic. Photo contributed by Margaret Jumonville.

The excitement around the show brought many students to auditions who had not participated in theatre at Allegheny before. This aspect was especially rewarding to stage manager Tully Taylor, ’22, who is completing her senior comprehensive project on the performance.
“My favorite thing about this show was probably the auditions because it brought out so many people from different majors and minors and grade levels,’’ Taylor said. “It was amazing to see students taking a chance on something they had never done before. It made for a really great three-day audition process where we were able to see so much talent. I hope that auditions for Playshop shows remain really open and inclusive to anybody in the student body.”
Taylor’s senior project focuses on fostering inclusive spaces in the Playshop Theatre through her role as the show’s stage manager.
“Whether it be in the rehearsal room, meetings with the production team, or just conversations between anybody working on the show, I’ve paid close attention to the communication and language used within these spaces,” Taylor said. “I’ve implemented different things along the way and so I can see what practices positively impacted the space and which ones did not make a difference.”
Taylor is not the only senior comping on the show. Participating in this production is one of the requirements for Walsh-Hilf to complete their comp.
“There are a lot of fights and action going on in the show,” Walsh-Hilf said. “For my comp I’m writing about how the physical theater methods that I’ve been researching have informed me throughout the rehearsal process and made it into the final week of performances.”

Though fight scenes and oversized puppets are a big part of the show, the element of humor also plays an important role.“I think it’s a good show to do after the pandemic when everyone was sad and alone, because it’s the opposite of that,” shorb said. “I hope the humor is something people enjoy. Some of the humor is kind of crass and some is stupid, but a lot of it is also very heartfelt and warm and that’s really the type of humor I like to present on stage. That heartfelt humor is what I’m looking forward to people seeing.”
Admission to “She Kills Monsters” is free to Allegheny students and masking will be required for the duration of the performance. The theater will be limited to 60% capacity and students are encouraged to reserve seats in advance at https://sites.allegheny.edu/playshop.