Theater Reimagined in This Year’s Spring Play, ‘She Kills Monsters’

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Edward Gillman, Staff Writer

This year’s fall play, She Kills Monsters, is nothing short of revolutionary. Crafting a two hour long performance, choreographing a high school cast, and coordinating lighting and music, for months under the best of circumstances is miraculous. As you probably anticipated, the pandemic has not been kind to this process. There were, in fact, zero in person rehearsals, practices, or meetings, when months of 4 hour rehearsals are normally standard. Despite these hurdles, a committed and extremely talented team and cast have performed and crafted an honest to God masterpiece. 

When school shut down, Glee teacher Sarah Figoten immediately realised she had to rethink the play. She chose the play, She Kills Monsters, not only for its “puppetry, stage combat, off-beat characters, and unexpected humor,” but also it’s virtual compatibility. Set in the world of Dungeons and Dragons, the play incorporates magic and myth, with characters and effects that adapt well to the screen. Things like fire and combat could be virtually simulated without sacrifices in quality.

While several other high schools choose to perform over zoom, live theater did not seem like the best option for Milken. The rigidity of a zoom call didn’t lend itself to the play’s needs. Instead, each actor was shipped, via Amazon, a green screen, lighting, and a microphone, and picked up a camera and their costumes in person at Milken. The cast acted out each scene together over Zoom, but recorded themself in high definition with the stand alone camera, green screen, and microphone. They then immediately sent the take to the editors who determined if it was usable. 

The benefits of the setup is twofold; firstly, because each shot was filmed with a green screen, the editors could import novel and colorful backgrounds that were not broken up. Secondly, the quality of footage and audio along with flexibility of costumes, props, and composition is much higher than if everything was filmed live or exclusively over Zoom. Using this method a full movie was slowly put together, piece by piece, into what you see today.

Sadly, personal cameras and sophisticated editing isn’t a perfect solution. “I think it was a lot harder to form bonds with the people in the play over zoom because you don’t have the time like just hanging out together before or after rehearsal” Ilana Frid-Madden laments. However, when they saw each other in person for the screening of the play it was very cool just to see everyone, she continued. This year has broken many bonds and traditions, but it’s safe to say the theater, and the enthusiasm for it, has endured, and will live on in whatever form life allows.