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November 10, 2017

Pop culture, Dungeons & Dragons serve as backdrop to SVSU play exploring sisterly bond

She Kills Monsters RehearsalA play deeply rooted in fantasy, 1990s pop culture references, and sarcasm will test the acting talents of Saginaw Valley State University students Nov. 15-19 in the Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts.

"She Kills Monsters" follows the life of Agnes Evans, a young teacher whose parents and sister, Tilly, die tragically in a car accident. While packing up Tilly's belongings, Agnes, played by Amber Hadley, an SVSU communication and theatre major from Marine City, stumbles across a notebook filled with the late teen's Dungeons & Dragons homemade quest. Knowing nothing about this fantasy role-playing game, Agnes reaches out to a local comic book store owner for help in completing her sister's quest. Little does Agnes know that she will be thrust into a world full of goblins, ogres, and evil elves.

The production constantly jumps back and forth between Agnes's real life in 1995 and the fantasy D&D world where Tilly is "reincarnated" through the words in her journal. However, Dave Rzeszutek, SVSU associate professor of theatre and director of the show, promises that audience members do not need to be familiar with role-playing games to follow the story line.

"Even if someone is not familiar with, or has never heard of Dungeons & Dragons before, they will understand the show. The D&D game is a backdrop for the main character to learn about her estranged sister," he said.

The set is designed to reflect when Agnes is experiencing her real life and when she is in the game to help the audience better understand the more unfamiliar aspects of the show.

The show involves many combat scenes between Agnes and the other characters in the game.

Hadley explained that learning stage combat has been the hardest but most rewarding part of preparing for the show.

"It's like really, really intense choreography, and when you get it right, it all just flows so perfectly," she said.

Because these violent scenes are coupled with mature language and adult themes, the show is recommended for patrons age 16 and older.

Watch Hadley and the rest of the cast bring this imaginary world to life Wednesday to Saturday, Nov. 15-18 at 7:30 p.m., and on Sunday, Nov. 19 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $13 for the general public and $10 for students or attendees 60 and older