Reality and gaming collide as Virtual Theatre returns with ‘She Kills Monsters’

Jaiya Ma portrays the Narrator in The Virtual Theatre's production of "She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms," available for streaming Aug. 7-16. CONTRIBUTED
Jaiya Ma portrays the Narrator in The Virtual Theatre's production of "She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms," available for streaming Aug. 7-16. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Wright State alum leads virtual production part of the lineup for virtual Art in the City

Having provided a memorable salute to the legendary Tennessee Williams last season, The Virtual Theatre embraces a more contemporary tone in its upcoming presentation of Qui Nguyen’s dramedy “She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms,” available for streaming Friday, Aug. 7 through Sunday, Aug. 16.

In the play, tinged with “homicidal fairies, nasty ogres and ’90s pop culture,” Agnes Evans sets out an adventurous quest to grow closer to her deceased teenage sister Tilly by way of playing “Dungeons and Dragons.” As the worlds of reality and gaming collide, perspectives on identity and sexuality emerge.

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“‘She Kills Monsters’ is made for the virtual medium,” said director/founder Matt Neal, a Wright State University alumnus. “The newest version of this script was released in April before we did ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ and the play (is in step) with the kinds of stories we covered with Tennessee Williams, which are plays that could provide for unique casting and focus on all different kinds of people and communities.”

In order to heighten the video game aspect of the script which includes battles, Neal selected two senior University of Cincinnati game art design interns to create comic book and video-game-style animation. He’s glad to be able to use their skills to tell parts of the story that can’t be done through video conferencing.

“We’re taking full advantage of virtual performance,” he said. “The animators are making avatars of our actors. When we change from the live-action Zoom medium into the animation medium there will be continuity.”

Featuring talent locally, regionally and across the country, the cast consists of Julia Gomez as Agnes, Jamie Binegar as Tilly, Ivy Moody as Lilith, Andie Angel as Kaliope, Zoe Peterson as Tina, Danielle Gallo as Gabbi, Cy Wood as Orcus, Scott Christian as Chuck, Jaiya Ma as Narrator, Chase Engel as Miles, Eli Mansfield as Steve, and J Moliere as Vera.

The creative team includes Sammy Haven, Scott Christian and Amy Mirlisena.

“I am proud of this cast and that we are featuring actors of color and actors from the LGBTQ+ community in the roles that are written for them,” Neal added. “Too often cisgender actors play these roles leaving the trans community specifically out of their own story. We don’t deserve kudos, but we are happy to represent these characters as the playwright intended. The whole aspect of (many) hot button topics being in the story are really a non-issue because the whole point of the story is adventure and what the characters daydream for themselves and how we all daydream.”

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In addition to being a part of the virtual Art in the City event slated Saturday, Aug. 8, The Virtual Theatre hopes to produce additional productions this season. “We want to do more collaborations,” Neal said. “We want to grow and continue to blend multiple mediums.”

Tickets for “She Kills Monsters” are priced at $15. The production will be available through YouTube and Vimeo. For additional information, visit The Virtual Theatre on Facebook.