Wesleyan Theater Department Presents: She Kills Monsters

The 2021 Spring Department Show, She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms, has triumphed in the face of the pandemic. Directed by Edward Torres, Assistant Professor of the Practice in Theater, this play has been adapted specifically for an online audience. We were delighted to have the opportunity to interview Edward to learn more about this experimental production that blurs the lines of theater and film — check it out!

Could you tell us a little bit about She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms? What is this play about?

She Kills Monsters is a play about two sisters who grow up in the same household but didn’t really know each other. The younger sister, Tilly, gets killed in a car accident and dies at a young age. Agnes, her older sister, sets out to explore her sister’s world, the world of Dungeons and Dragons in which Tilly was a dedicated player. In short, this play is about loss and the world of Dungeons and Dragons. It raises questions about how sometimes we think we know our family and siblings when we have not taken the time to actually get to know who they are. This version of the play was developed to be performed over Zoom. However, we are producing a hybrid version of the original and this version. Our production will be an attempt at bringing the world of theater and cinema together, a theatrical film of sorts.

This production of She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms will be filmed and available to the public for streaming. Have you ever directed this kind of project?

I have produced a few plays in which theater meets film/video. Water By The Spoonful, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Diety, The Happiest Songs Plays are among my most prominent. My interest in theater and film has been a passion of mine for a long time. Both my undergrad and graduate experience lie in both those worlds.

Being that this is a recorded play, in what ways is it similar to a film? In what ways is it different?

It’s different because theater is best when it is live and involves a group of people who are actually in the theater. The exchange is different, and it becomes a more visceral experience. There is nothing like live theater in the world. The experience is immediate and the exchange between the actors and audience is quite powerful. In cinema, the experience is quite powerful and more visual, although less immediate (not live). Film draws you into the emotional experience by way of what you see in the frame. Both mediums are different in their technical aspects but the focus on the story telling is the same.

How has this production challenged you as a director?

Yes, this production at this time in a pandemic is quite challenging. Since we are dealing with COVID restrictions, the intimacy of live theater is reduced from actor to actor and from actor to audience. There are no live performances, so the exchange and the electricity that the audience and actors exchange is virtually non-existent. In the world of Zoom, the experience isn’t quite cinematic but requires more focus from the audience to engage in the story being conveyed in a box from a computer. Plus, not to mention lags and delays caused by the internet. Additionally, having to be six feet apart and masked is a hurdle that is difficult for most actors to conquer; the restrictions on speech and movement is quite challenging.

What do you feel has been the greatest challenge for theater during the pandemic?

The ability to engage an audience that is once removed from the story that is being told is by far the greatest challenge; the experience is significantly different. I am hoping that the idea of streaming and burrowing some cinematic elements will help. Although, as I said before, there is nothing like attending live theater. This may, at the very least, get us a bit closer.

What skills or knowledge have you gained in this process that you feel will be useful moving forward?

I think that each experience enhances the skills that you already have. Understanding these two mediums and what makes them similar is extremely important. Knowing and recognizing on a deeper level what makes them different is also advantageous. As both an artist and teacher, rediscovering the process of what makes a good story honest and real is always worthwhile.

Be sure to stream She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms on May 14th or 15th at 8:00 P.M. EST, or May 16th at 2:00 P.M. EST!

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Wesleyan University Arts and Humanities Division

Welcome to Wesleyan University’s Arts and Humanities news! Covering a variety of disciplines, there’s something for everyone. Find what interests you!