ELKO – A mix of art, inventive puppetry and 1990s pop culture, “She Kills Monsters” opens Tuesday at the Great Basin College Theatre.
The play starts at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16 and runs through Oct. 20, with a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $5 for students and seniors.
The off-Broadway play by Qui Nguyen is a dark comedy that centers around a woman’s quest to get to know her teenage sister by fighting Kobalds, Bugbears and Mind Flayers in her sister’s unfinished Dungeons and Dragons game.
“I was pretty excited about the possibility of this play,” said director John Patrick Rice, explaining that the production, set in Athens, Ohio in 1995, combines a commentary on topical issues with inventive costumes and set design.
“It is a very interesting vehicle for dealing with contemporary and topical issues, addressing bullying, sexuality, sexual identity, tolerance and acceptance as well,” Rice said. “It helps us to understand that all of us are able to fit in our complex culture.”
The play uses puppetry to bring the monsters of the game to life on the stage, which was created by students in a workshop last month in Tuscarora.
Rice explained that having the cast participate in the puppet making. along with a workshop taught by Emmy award-winning puppeteer Michael Schulpbach, fashioned a play that does not rely on special effects or computer-generated graphics.
“What we discovered as we rehearsed and built the puppets and the sets is that it is really a very ‘analog’ story,” Rice explained. “Dungeons and Dragons predates the technology enjoyed in gaming today.”
Guest artists Gail Rappa of Tuscarora and sculptor Joe Pachak of Bluff, Utah were brought in to design the costumes and sets, Rice said. Rappa designed the monsters, while Pachak worked on the play’s largest set piece.
“It seems to float somewhere between Earth and sky,” Rice said.
To add to the action, Rice said original music for the play was designed by GBC Theater’s Andrew Dolberg, who also designed the lights and sound.
The low-tech feel was intentional to “create the sort of world that would be imagined around a game table,” Rice added.
“Though we engage all the technology our theater facility provides, we tried to keep it simple,” Rice said. “Papier-mache, puppets, stop-action animation, and wooden weapons. Additionally, the set is made entirely of found or recycled materials.”
Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance in Berg Hall.