Northern Iowan

‘Meet the Monsters’ previews play

In+anticipation+of+their+upcoming+production+%22She+Kills+Monsters%2C%22+TheatreUNI+hosted+%22Meet+the+Monsters%2C%22+an+event+showcasing+various+behind-the-scenes+aspects+of+the+play.
In anticipation of their upcoming production

In anticipation of their upcoming production "She Kills Monsters," TheatreUNI hosted "Meet the Monsters," an event showcasing various behind-the-scenes aspects of the play.

EMMA KOSSAYIAN

EMMA KOSSAYIAN

In anticipation of their upcoming production "She Kills Monsters," TheatreUNI hosted "Meet the Monsters," an event showcasing various behind-the-scenes aspects of the play.

EMMA KOSSAYIAN, Staff Writer

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The UNI Theatre Department hosted “Meet the Monsters” at 6:30 p.m. on  Oct. 31 in the Strayer-Wood Theatre.

The event provided a behind-the-scenes look at the upcoming production “She Kills Monsters,” written by Qui Nguyen. Its plot centers around Agnes and her journey through her younger sister’s “Dungeons and Dragons” campaign after she passes away.

Fifty costume-adorned spectators gathered to learn more about the intricate show.

Matt Weedman, an associate professor in the theatre department and the show’s director, opened with a brief summary of the 90’s throwback.

The first showcase demonstrated the different levels of learning stage combat for the first scene in the show, which features Agnes’ sister, Tilly, battling four Kobolds (which are basically alligator dragons).

The actors did their first pass at 25 percent speed, which they use for learning and practicing. The first step, they explained, was getting the movements into muscle memory before adding the weapons.

Next, they did rehearsal speed, which is about half the normal speed. They began to flow through the movements while using swords and shields.

Finally, they did performance speed. The crowd cheered and applauded with a few intermixed “eww’s” when Tilly cut one of the Kobold’s Achilles tendons before slitting its throat.

Jay Laupp, a senior theatre design and production major, is the weapons master for the show. He ensures the actors’ safety and the weapons’ condition after every rehearsal.

Across the hall in the Bertha Martin Theatre, different artistic pieces of the immense show were displayed. The booths showed off things like puppets, projected imagery that will be used in the show and an up-close look at the weapons.

The production’s largest monster, called a “Bugbear,” is over ten feet tall. Puppet and scenic designer Mark A. Parrot shared a fun story of inspiration for the appearance of the puppets.

“My son went to school for one semester in Athens, Ohio,” Parrot said. “This is where the play is set, so I modeled these beasts after the humans I saw walking around.”

The sketch on the screen depicted a giant ugly man with yellow pit stains on his white tank-top with matching jean shorts. All the monsters were humorous, yet also scary.

Parrot also showed the process for making heads for a dragon in the show. He thanked the Art Department for letting him use an industrial laser cutter, which allowed him to cut over 2,500 pieces of cardboard to be glued together to make a five-headed dragon.

This showcase gave the public a chance to see how students and staff come together to make a beautiful show.

One student, KJ Jeffries, a sophomore theatre performance major, worked extensively to carve horns for one of the characters. She explained the process while wearing a steampunk costume, one eye completely black and the other appearing to have been ripped out of her face. The prosthetic took her three hours to apply, not including sculpting the piece. Jeffries is a great example of how theatre students learn every part of what it takes to put on a show.

The last part of the night was the design presentation. The artistic team, including lighting, set, sound and costume designers, discussed their artistic processes. They all shared a common inspiration: the early hand-drawn pictures from the first editions of D&D.

“She Kills Monsters” is a change of pace for TheatreUNI. The stage is a large white canvas to be painted with projections, the lighting eerie and mysterious, and the costumes rich and fantasy-based. The actors, crew and staff have poured their hearts into this show.

Performances run from Nov. 28 through Dec. 2. Students can visit theatre.uni.edu/theatre-uni for more information.

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‘Meet the Monsters’ previews play