Grandview High School Students Roll The Dice On Virtual Production Of Dungeon & Dragons Play
Usually, a castmate would be there to help Rai Turner with their makeup before going on stage, but not this year.
Grandview High School’s production of Qui Nguyen’s “She Kills Monsters” is totally contactless. Nearly all of the scenes were filmed in students’ homes, including the majority of Rai’s.
“I’ve always wanted to try and do drag makeup,” said Rai, who is nonbinary. “In each clip, you could see my makeup progressing the more practice I got with the technique. And that was super fun to play with, to just reconstruct my whole face an even better way with the costume.”
Rai plays two parts in the production: Ronnie and Ronnie’s Dungeons & Dragons alter ego, Orcus. “She Kills Monsters” is about Agnes, a cheerleader, attempting to understand her nerdy sister Tilly after she dies.
“Agnes is an average teenager who finds Tilly’s Dungeons & Dragons adventure,” said Molly Mokler, a teacher at Grandview High School and the director. “She wants to feel close to her sister and understand her better.”
“The whole adventure, she made it,” Rai said. “She built it in her own head. So we get to, along with Agnes, learn about Tilly.”
Going into the semester, Mokler didn’t know what to expect. She didn’t even know if school would be online or in person. Grandview hasn’t brought back the majority of students because coronavirus cases are surging in the metro.
“Usually as a director, you’re looking at your space and your production needs and the group of students you have. And I had to think about, well, what are our technology capabilities? Can we do a show from home? What does that even look like?”
Mokler settled on “She Kills Monsters” because students could film themselves at home. She’s been editing the footage together like it’s a series of Zoom calls.
“We only had one day where students came in in front of a green screen so that we could get some full body shots of the costumes and some dancing scenes,” Mokler said. “There’s actually a dance battle in the show that’s quite intense and really fun.”
Rai is one of the student-actors in that scene. Their costume is pretty cool. Rai had two requests: shoulder pads and jewelry that looked like it was made of bones.
“I just imagine it as my character got a bunch of animals and threw them on their body,” Rai said. “It’s from an old coat in the costume closet that was messed up but had real fur. My staff has three skulls on it. It’s pretty sturdy.”
“She Kills Monsters” debuts Thursday, Nov. 18. The students have all filmed their parts, but they haven’t seen the finished product yet. Mokler plans to show it at a socially-distanced cast party this afternoon.
“So then we can hear everybody’s reactions in person,” Rai said.
“She Kills Monsters” will be livestreamed at 7 p.m. Nov. 19, 20 and 21. Tickets can be purchased for $10 from Grandview High School Theatre.