Many high schools shy away from the intricacies and occasional controversies of representing various sexual identities, but Beyond the Page Theatre Company’s production of She Kills Monsters by Qui Nguyen faces the realities of being a part of the LGBTQ community head-on.
When Agnes Evans (played by Maggie Bengston) loses her entire family in a car accident, she is forced to confront an uncomfortable truth about her family: she never really knew her geeky youngest sister, Tilly (Gracie Schwab). Though not a player herself, Agnes enlists the help of neighborhood uber-nerd Chuck (Max Marshall) to help her play the Dungeons and Dragons campaign that Tilly had written. Through the action of the game, Agnes discovers more about Tilly’s strength, wit, and sexuality than she would have ever imagined.
What’s refreshing about Nguyen’s She Kills Monsters is that not only does it shine a spotlight to LGBTQ characters, but that it does not use their sexuality as a placeholder for personality. It’s incredibly easy, and in some circles almost obligatory, for high school plays and musicals to represent sexually diverse characters in the name of intersectionality without truly giving them a voice.“In this show, there’s not just one token gay character that dies off at the first possible moment, or that fits perfectly into the stereotype that has become prevalent in the media these days,” says Ella Danyluk, who plays one of the Dungeons and Dragons characters, Kaliope. “Each of the LGBT characters in the show have characteristics that are more dominant than their sexuality, and each of those characteristics are different. This isn’t a show with a bunch of gay characters. This is a show with a bunch of characters that happen to be gay.”
Staging a story with such emotionally rich and action-packed, LGBTQ roles has an empowering and uplifting impact on student artists in the LGBTQ community. She Kills Monsters allows students to truthfully represent the LGBTQ community in a show that goes beyond the ‘tragic Oscar-bait tale of characters discovering their sexuality’, but into a genre that for so long has been dominated by heteronormative Hollywood. “Having the opportunity to play Tilly, an openly gay and very proud young girl is truly so liberating! The experiences of simply being truthful and fearless on stage about a subject this important is one that I will never forget,” says Schwab.
Assigned seating for all shows is $10 (plus service charge) and is available online until 2 hours before each performance. Any remaining seats will be available at the door one hour before performances. Tickets are available at www.westpotomactheatre.org