Photography by Liam Pickhardt, Set design by Robert Vaughn,
Costume design by Laurel Peterson, Lighting design by Derek Lane
“It’s Just a Sweet, Sweet Fantasy, Baby”
High school is hell, especially for nerds, kids with disabilities, queer kids, and other communities that don’t sit at the popular table in the cafeteria. Nerds are bullied in part because they wear their insecurities on their sleeves—but also, I would argue, because they spend a fair amount of their time dreaming in fantasy lands filled with monsters, elves, and faeries. What I love about She Kills Monsters is that it understands fantasy as both a form a wish-fulfillment—a way for people to imagine themselves as the adventurer, the hero, the one who gets the girl—and as pure, unadulterated fun.
The Dungeons and Dragons campaign in this show constitutes wish-fulfillment on the part of both Tilly and Agnes. Tilly imagines a world in which she’s a chivalrous knight who leads a team of warriors on an adventure to save a lost soul; Agnes imagines she can talk with her sister, can learn who she was and what she went through. Death separates the sisters, but fighting monsters reunites them.
It makes me think there might be something inherently queer about fantasy, and this might be yet another reason mainstream culture looks down on it. Fantasy realms are filled with action–they activate queerness not only as a state of being but also as a verb. They queer power dynamics, casting three-foot tall Hobbits as the ultimate heroes, or blond cheerleaders as vampire slayers. They queer time, or perhaps erase it. They foreground friendship and intimacy in a way that the real world often seems uncomfortable talking about. They take as given that our demons are very very real, and that we can never vanquish them all on our own. Fantasy worlds rely on the formation of unlikely communities as vital to achieving peace and happiness.
She Kills Monsters deliciously blurs the line between fantasy and reality and offers imagination as the only antidote to loss. Our show wants you to ask yourself: when was the last time you just played? Dreamed? Danced? Wore fingerless gloves? Hugged a nerd? Raised your fists high and bellowed out a battle cry? So, tap into your inner fantasy enthusiast—not just for the next 90 minutes, but on a regular basis. It’ll be sweet. Agnes promises.
-Lindsey Mantoan, Director
Dramaturgy on the show can be found here!