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Drama’s effort pays off in successful opening night of “She Kills Monsters”

The smooth incorporation of intense action scenes and intricate production techniques made the fictional, game-based performance of “She Kills Monsters” everything the actors and directors hoped it to be on opening night, Oct. 11.

Closely mimicking the intense fantasy role-playing game, “Dungeons and Dragons,” the performance required more combat scenes than past productions.

Seniors Stephen Jung and Ali Janku, who starred in the lead roles, had the responsibility of being fight captains. With the help of Elena Wright, a professional actress who directs stage combat, the three coordinated basic fighting techniques and safety precautions.

Seniors Stephen Jung and Ali Janku act out dramatic scene
Seniors Stephen Jung and Ali Janku act out dramatic scene

“Every rehearsal starts with a one hour fight call, where we act out every fight in the entire play,” Jung said.

The extensive rehearsal process allowed each fight scene to be carefully mapped out, containing detailed dynamics. According to Jung, the main goal of practicing was to be able to feel in control during the fights while making it feel realistic for the audience. With the up-close combat taking up around 20 percent of the play, it is essential that the every move had correct positioning and was carefully executed.

Although the play focuses on action, there are still many other theater elements that contribute to the overall quality of the performance. The elaborate dragon costumes, shadow puppets, props, lighting all had to be well thought out and took weeks of preparation.

“Because there was so much in the play, we had to be down to business, meaning no goofing off during rehearsal,” Janku said.

The costumes and weapons resembled those seen throughout the game “Dungeons and Dragons” and the color changes, spotlights and sound truly brought the props to life.

Senior Lily Moser plays lead role as Lilith in She Kills Monsters
Senior Lily Moser plays lead role as Lilith in She Kills Monsters

According to Janku, a focal point of the preparation was getting everyone in sync with each other so the performance would run smoothly.  

“A big thing in theater is that you have to trust your fellow actors, the director, and trust that everyone is going to do what they have to do so it will all come together,” Janku said.

Whether it’s behind the stage or in a main scene many performers believe having good chemistry is what leads to a successful show. A crucial step the cast members took to better understand their play was a cast bonding night. The majority of the cast members spent time together outside of class to strengthen their sense of community during a trip to a local game store that hosts Dungeon and Dragon game sessions.

“We have cast bonding nights where we go and try to get to know each other and develop better relationships,” Jung said.

According to Janku, the cast members feel that the closer they are with one another, the more it translates into their relationship on stage, which adds to the overall performance. Although to the audience it may seem as if the rehearsals and stage combat are what brought the play together, Jung also feels that the influence of their peers, the drama department and the audience made it a successful show.

“My main motivation is the community, I don’t want to let down any of my fellow actors or directors, or the audience,” Jung said.

The motivational environment that drama provides for actors like Janku encourages them to continue their passion of acting, and possibly pursue it for after college.

“The Redwood drama community has fostered who I am and given me a sense of individuality, because it is a place where there is less judgement and everyone who is here wants to be here,” Janku said.

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About the Contributor
Devon McClain
Devon McClain, Former Staff
Devon McClain is a senior at Redwood high school and has been on the Redwood Bark staff for 2 years working as a reporter. Outside of Bark, he loves to play lacrosse, skateboard, and rock climb. He loves spending time with his family and his friends, and is always up to try something new!