Theater Season Start-Up: She Kills Monsters Kicks-Off SPFHS Repertory Theater


Grayce Mattos, Staff Writer

  With the school year just beginning, Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School is already getting into the theater grind. The 2022-2023 fall play will be She Kills Monsters. This show follows Agnes, a teenage girl, who is currently grieving the passing of her younger sister, Tilly, as well as her parents. While Tilly was still alive, her and Agnes never quite got along. Now, with Tilly gone, Agnes seeks to find out more about her sister through Dungeons & Dragons. 


  Auditions for the play occurred on Wednesday, September 21, and callbacks the following day. Morgan Knight will be continuing his legacy here at SPFHS as the Director for Repertory Theater. Knight has been with SPFHS for five years now and has always held theater in a special part in his heart.


  “[She Kills Monsters] deals with themes that might be relevant to current students,” Knight said. “It’s set in the 90’s and it makes a lot of 90’s pop culturel references…and that sort of Y2K fashion is super in right now. But it also deals with themes like bullying, childhood trauma and loss and grief. There’s a lot of homophobia, acceptance and inclusion…and I think that this is going to be an exciting thing to actually do a play that might speak to kids specifically.”


  She Kills Monsters is a big step for not only Knight, but the SPFHS theater community. While the play has lots of 90’s pop culture references along with trendy fashion, the play also battles with serious and possibly relatable struggles that teenagers experience. The difference between this year and previous year’s fall plays has been a more modern approach versus a classical one. Maya Handler, a senior at SPFHS, agrees with Knight. She talks about how Christmas Carol, last year’s fall play, differentiates from She Kills Monsters through connecting with the audience in a practical way.


  “We did Christmas Carol knowing that it was going to bring a lot of people, a lot of families together, a lot of elderly people, a lot of anybody,” Handler said. “But this show is definitely a lot more realistic and a lot more personal. Although Christmas Carol has a real story about redemption and Christmas, [it’s not a story] that not everybody can relate to. I think a lot of people can relate with [She Kills Monsters] and see themselves in it because it’s all about being yourself,” Handler says.


  The excitement surrounding this play is like no other. Knight has decided to take on a whole new route for this play by including stage combat which has left students filled with enthusiasm. All new elements are being introduced to SPFHS theater in this production.


  “I’m excited to expose the kids to some other different kinds of theater but also specifically about this play [specifically],” Knight said. “This play has a ton of stage combat in it. There’s a lot of stage violence, fantasy, magic, fighting, swords, all sorts of fun stuff…I’m really excited for the stage combat element of this show.” 


  Although the stage combat element of this show has students on the edge of their seats, it is also one of the biggest challenges. Having to learn a whole new skill that students may not be used to can be difficult to master in a certain time frame. Luckily, Handler has a strategy in order to pick up the technique of combat. 


  “Learning fight choreo is certainly going to be objective,” Handler said. “It’s certainly going to be a task, and I’m gonna approach it the way that I approach dance choreography, but we’re gonna have weapons, so that’s new, and that [makes me] a little bit nervous.” 


  Theater is an opportunity for students to make new friends and potentially create a close-knit family. Whether you are a part of the stage crew or in the cast, you are a part of the team. Both Handler and Knight talk about how no matter who you are or where you come from, theater has a place for everyone. 


  “It totally brings students together,” Knight said. “I do theater largely because of the social aspect. I’m not pursuing acting in college, but I am pursuing theater in the back-end because I love the community so much and I love the social dynamics. Being in a cast is the same as being on a team because everybody’s going through it together.” 


  “Theater can find a place for everyone…I am here for any kind of popular kid, a kid who needs a place to hang out, a kid who wants to be on Broadway, a kid who just wants to have fun,” Knight said. “All of those kinds of people can come together. It’s also a place where every single person that’s contributing to the show has a vital role…I think [it’s] so important to give kids a sense of self worth when they do a job. I love seeing kids become friends with people that they may not have met otherwise.”