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The World of D&D Comes to Life at USD

USD students Kyle Groves, LD Dowell and Skyla Sanders in the production of She Kills Monsters. Kyle Groves, LD Dowell and Skyla Sanders (from left to right) in the production of "She Kills Monsters."

VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota’s Department of Theatre is bringing to life the action-packed fantastical world of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) with the play “She Kills Monsters” by acclaimed playwright Qui Nguyen. The show streams for free April 30 – May 1 at 7:30 p.m. and May 2 at 2 p.m. at www.usd.edu/theatre/live.

In this contemporary comedy and journey of self-discovery, Agnes Evans jumps headlong into the world of fantasy, fairies and dance battles. “She Kills Monsters” takes the audience to an imaginary realm filled with heart-pounding action, 90s pop culture and the most fearsome creatures the world has ever seen: American teenagers.

“She Kills Monsters” is directed by third-year M.F.A. student Ann-Houston Campbell. “I feel very fortunate to direct a show with such strong female characters as my thesis project for my M.F.A. in Directing,” said Campbell. “The story centers on the relationship between two sisters, Agnes and Tilly. This show is special to me because of my relationships with my sisters; this production is my love letter to them. As the director of the show, it has been such a joy to get to come to rehearsal during these unconventional times and do what we all love—play through storytelling. ‘She Kills Monsters’ is electric, energizing and full of epic battles with monsters in the world of Dungeons & Dragons.”

This play also serves as the thesis for three design/theatre technology students. M.F.A. student Alex Pikiben designed the sound, B.F.A. student Lily Crooks designed the costumes and B.F.A. student Alivia Olson serves as stage manager.

Pikiben discusses his approach to this unique sound design. “I wanted to make a distinction between the reality of the Athens, Ohio, and the fantasy of New Landia,” Pikiben said. “Ohio takes elements of the music genre lo-fi and is played in the background. When we get to New Landia, it sounds like a video game. Toward the end of the show, I wanted the lines to blur, so both worlds have been this cross-pollination effect.”

Crooks elaborates on this opportunity and culmination of her education. “’She Kills Monsters’ has been my dream show to design since I started at USD. Getting to work on a show that is so magical, creative and personal has been such an incredibly rewarding experience,” Crooks said.

“She Kills Monsters” streams for free April 29 – May 1 at 7:30 p.m. and May 2 at 2 p.m. at www.usd.edu/theatre/live, with captioned and un-captioned options available. Check out USD Theatre on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for interviews and photos.

ABOUT THE COLLEGE OF FINE ARTS

USD's College of Fine Arts encourages students to pursue their chosen professional field in art, music or theater through their study with nationally recognized faculty who are working professionals. Students learn and grow to be professional fine artists with great job potential anywhere in the country. The college offers opportunities for additional real-world experiences through work with guest artists, study tours abroad and opportunities at the National Music Museum and the University Art Galleries on the Vermillion campus and the Black Hills Playhouse in Custer State Park. The college brings more than 80 guests artists to campus annually to work with students.

ABOUT USD

Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 78 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

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