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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Theatre department handles grief in new play

Haley Velasco
Karina Bozanich (left), actress for Tilly in “She Kills Monsters,” and Hatlyn Barricklow (right), actress for Agnes in “She Kills Monsters,” rehearse a scene in “She Kills Monsters,” Friday, Sept. 22, 2023, at the Performing Arts Center.

A young woman dressed in a suit of armor, wielding a sword enters on a stage full of luminous colors while dragons fly around as the Texas State Department of Theatre and Dance puts on their own production of “She Kills Monsters.”

“She Kills Monsters” is set in Athens, Ohio in 1995 and follows the story of English teacher Agnes Evans, as she leaves her family’s home following the death of her parents and younger sister Tilly. As she’s packing, she discovers a Dungeons and Dragons module, created by Tilly. After deciding to play the game, Agnes is pulled into an action-packed adventure as she begins to dive more into what was her sister’s personal refuge. 

“When you meet the characters in real life, you realize how personal the module is to Tilly, like it’s not just made up. It’s real,” Karina Bozanich, the actress for Tilly and performance and production junior, said. “It’s both what she wished could happen and what she feared would happen.”

For the show, Director Jerry Ruiz, the head of the MFA directing program at Texas State, pushed students to put their own spin on the characters.

“I try to work with students the same way that I work with professional actors, which is to treat them as collaborators to really be open to their ideas to their creativity,” Ruiz said. 

The script has similar features to a movie script with a lot of cut scenes throughout the play. This challenges not only the actors but the set designers as well, forcing them to translate onto a stage. 

“And going off of that the play itself is written in a very, not peculiar way, but just it’s almost campy,”  Hatlyn Barricklow, the actress for Agnes and performance and production senior, said. 

“She Kills Monsters,” also features LGBTQ+ characters. Ruiz felt as though this play would be very meaningful to not only the LGBTQ+ community within the department but within Texas State as a whole. 

“We wanted to program something that would offer positive portrayals of those experiences,” Ruiz said.

In preparation for this play, the cast and crew members have been rehearsing since the first day of school and auditioned last semester before school ended for summer. At the auditions there were more than 100 students with hopes of making the cast of 12 actors. 

“It was important to find people that could really naturally bring that sense of humor and comedic sensibility to the table,” Ruiz said.

Barricklow, who also starred in “Antigone” as an ensemble character, said that she is grateful to go from a minor role to a big role within the Texas State Theatre Department. 

“It’s a dream come true,” Barricklow said. “It’s also a lot of pressure in a way I just feel very responsible for carrying the story.”

The cast of “She Kills Monsters” are looking forward to presenting a show that teaches empathy, regret and the importance of how stories can help people understand one another, all while having numerous fight scenes.

“I mean there’s cool swords, what more can you get?” Bozanich said. “Dragons, incredible amazing fight choreography and a heartfelt family story. It has everything.”

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