BCP, Ad-Hoc use ’90s gaming to explore deep issues
Dealing with loss, mourning, family issues, and overall geekdom in a setting of a parallel universe sliding between fantasy and reality, “She Kills Monsters” strives to be something other than a traditional, run-of-the-mill community production for its run Oct. 14-29 at the Betty Greenberg Center for Performing Arts.
The Beaumont Community Players in conjunction with Ad Hoc Beaumont have teamed up to produce the play in an attempt to broaden both the groups’ audiences that pushes the boundaries of what each has traditionally produced in this first of BCP’s “Theatre on the Edge” series.
Written by Qui Nguyen and first performed in 2011 at New York’s off Broadway Flea Theater, the contemporary play tells a humorous, if not occasionally dark, story of life, gaming, role-playing, feminism and life struggles of teens and 20-somethings. While many typical nerd storylines tend to emphasize males and the usually socially-stunted male psyche for lead roles, “She Kills Monsters” takes a refreshing, and nostalgic look by presenting a female-dominated lead and cast.
“BCP and Ad Hoc are both known for the kind of performances they do,” Michael Saar, director and long-time BCP member, said. “BCP tends to do more traditional works and Ad Hoc tends to produce more adult-oriented and edgy works.”
Saar, along with Ad Hoc producers Michael Mason and Jody Reho, said the production is a joint effort in which they are sharing many duties of organizing a show that often crosses into new territory for all of them.
“It’s hard to explain in a way, but at the same time everything is fitting well and we’re all working to make this come together,” Mason said. “While Michael (Saar) is directing, we all work together on things like blocking fight scenes or working with a small group of the cast while he is working with another. This is a large production in terms of the size of the cast, the sets and technical requirements. This is a bit new to all of us.”
The production features Mary Hooker, Wyatt Curry, Avery Smithhart, Tabitha Samuel, Keekee Hernandez, Heather Rushing, Taylor VanDevender, Haleigh Courts, Haley Hardin, Donny Avery, Cole Williams, Jared Hinson, Anthony Gonzalez, Wendi Hinson, Lige Menard, Isabella Rey, Peter Cao, Iza Scott and Caleb Peterson.
The lead characters of Agnes, played by Hooker, and Tilly, played by 14-year-old Curry, in his first leading role in a community level production, are working their roles in some ways like the narrative of the play — by becoming a team.
“As we’re rehearsing our lines and the fight scenes, much like Agnes and Tilly, we are finding ourselves slipping in the roles pretty easily,” Hooker said. “I’m a bit older (she laughs) so I tend to look out for Wyatt and to make sure he’s comfortable and I think we’re beginning to gel as characters.”
Curry said although this is his first role outside of school productions, he feels more comfortable with the role with each rehearsal.
“Tilly is sarcastic and ambitious in nature, something that I can relate to,” Curry said. “Tilly also went through some things that I can related to, bullying at school, so I feel connected to the role and more so each rehearsal.”
A compelling aspect of the play, Saar said, are fight sequences throughout the production.
“I don’t think anyone locally has seen anything like we are putting together for this show,” Saar said. “It’s pretty intense with the level of stage fighting we’re putting together.”
Saar and company brought in local experts to help train and coordinate fighting; David Howells of Tiger Rock Martial Arts and Beau Dumesnil and Jeff Courts with the local chapter of the Society of Creative Anachronism.
“The training for the cast and crew is pretty intense,” Hooker said. “I’ve been sporting wraps and bandages ever since rehearsals began. It’s rough and I think the audience is really going to enjoy it. It will be like nothing they’ve ever seen on stage.”
Tickets are on sale now at www.beaumontcommuni typlayers.com with show dates Oct. 14, 15, 21, 27, 28, 29, and a matinee Oct. 22.
The Betty Greenberg Center for Performing Arts is located at 4155 Laurel in Beaumont.
For more information visit the website, BCP and Ad Hoc’s Facebook pages, or call 409-833-4664.
Story by Stephan Malick
Photos by Andy Coughlan