Behind the Scenes of the Virtual Performance “She Kills Monsters”

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With LMU’s move to online instruction back in March, all on-campus events through the end of the semester were postponed, including LMU Theatre Arts’ Mainstage production of Qui Nguyen’s “She Kills Monsters.” Determined to move forward, even virtually, with this action-packed, comedic play revolving around a “Dungeons and Dragons” theme of fight scenes and swordplay, the cast prepared instead for a virtual performance of the show, which was presented at the start of the fall semester in an online webinar format.

Directed by theatre art professor Kevin Wetmore, the production utilized a combination of Zoom and livestream technology to showcase four nights of ninety-minute performances to viewers. Fight scenes were choreographed to appear as though actors were sword fighting each other, even though they couldn’t physically be next to each other. Through much trial and error, the “She Kills Monsters” cast was able to adapt to the online format.

“It was amazing to see how we could use technology and innovation to continue to create amazing content, even in the comfort of our own homes,” said Ashley Hsu, a sophomore theatre arts student who performed from her family home in Hong Kong. “I was worried I wouldn’t be able to continue on with the show because of the time difference, but it ended up working out just right. The biggest challenge was with spotty WiFi signals and knowing when to come in or when your cue is happening, but it felt more and more natural as we got more comfortable with the new medium.”

Rehearsing and performing theatre virtually was a new experience to all of the actors, including sophomore Zoe Carr who played the main role of Tilly Evans. “It’s much tougher to maintain the same connection and personalized atmosphere through a screen than in a black box, but it’s not impossible,” said Carr. “If anything, I am walking away from Zoom theater with a greater appreciation for finding creative spaces to work on a play with other actors and creators, even if that space is virtual.”

Carr expressed that being a part of this performance has taught her what theatre truly means. “Connection – that’s what theater is to me in the end. The medium through which we can do so has changed, but our determination to maintain it is as strong as ever.”

After this sold-out performance of “She Kills Monsters,” LMU Theatre Arts has lined up a series of other virtual theatre productions throughout the rest of the academic year. Though the method of performance has changed, the theatre department has persisted to bring vibrant performance opportunities to both the LMU theatre arts students and their ever-expanding virtual audiences.

Check out cfa.lmu.edu/events for all upcoming Theatre Arts performances this year – all free, and all virtual!