Drama Club tackles mature topics in ‘She Kills Monsters’

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Tilly (Sophie Tabor) and Lilith (Annie Robertson) perform in a dress rehearsal of “She Kills Monsters,” which the Whitefish High School Drama Club will present this week at the Performing Arts Center. (Daniel McKay/Whitefish Pilot)

Members of the Whitefish High School Drama Club took the lead when they selected the play they’ll bring to the stage this weekend.

The club is presenting “She Kills Monsters,” written by Qui Nguyen, from Feb. 22-24 at the Performing Arts Center.

The story focuses on 20-something Agnes Evans as she grieves the loss of her little sister, Tilly, who died in a car crash. Upon finding a mysterious notebook in her sister’s room, Agnes discovers that 14-year-old Tilly was a high level Dungeons and Dragons player. Agnes immerses herself into the geeky gaming world her sister has created, quickly discovering that her sister’s D&D alter-ego was not the only thing Tilly has kept hidden from her.

The story also hits on themes of growing up, fitting in and wading through questions about one’s sexuality, which head coach of the Drama Club Scarlett Schindler says makes sense for a play selected by the Drama Club itself.

“These are topics and subject matter that are important to them,” she said. “They want to talk about it. They want to see it treated respectfully and they want to talk about their friends who are in the closet, out of the closet, just living a little left of center. Drama club is such a great place to talk about these things, because drama people are always a little weird, and it’s a safe place for kids to come and talk about these things. It’s art.”

Eden Scrafford, who plays the lead in the play, won an award two weeks ago at the Montana Thespian Festival for best performance in a comedy.

“She Kills Monsters” is a comical adventure of discovery and tender atonement as the two sisters — one living, one dead — renew and fortify their relationship by battling bug-bears, demonic faeries and evil cheerleaders, Schindler said.

She added she was happy to see Dungeons and Dragons in the spotlight due to the popularity of the Netflix series “Stranger Things.”

The group started working on the show in December, but the hardest part has been getting everyone in the same place at the same time.

“The greatest challenge is that these are the cream of the crop kids, so they’re really involved. Just getting them all here at the same time is a challenge, because they’re in DECA, speech and debate, track, volleyball — they’re just really involved kids,” Schindler said.

Schindler acknowledges the play touches on difficult topics, but they’re ones worth talking about.

“I’m just taking their lead, they’re super comfortable with [these topics]. They’ve grown up with it,” she said of the Drama Club members. “I think the world is changing, and we’re becoming much more tolerant and accepting and loving. To me, it’s risky in that somebody might get mad or get their feathers ruffled, but if there’s one kid that comes to the show and feels like they can go home and talk to their brother or sister or parents about how they’re feeling about their own sexuality, whatever that may be, then I’m proud of it.”

Tickets will be available at the PAC box office before the shows, at prices of $5 for students and $8 for adults.

Each performance will be at 7:30 p.m. at the PAC.

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