Guiding Lights and Plastic Swords, Nerds Unite to Fight Hordes!
By Marcus Del Valle
Qui Nguyen’s “She Kills Monsters” triumphs as a live action imagining of a Dungeons and Dragons journey filled with some gut busting humor, amazing props, perfectly timed music and an inspiring tale for anyone who has ever loved and lost, no matter what that love looked like.
The LGBT community has made some large strides forward within the past few years. With the new president-elect soon to take office, many communities (queer, disabled, people of color, feminists, or women in general, Muslims and many others) are afraid that those movements will recede. Kathi Wolfe wrote, in an article for The Blade, that art is needed now more than ever during the Trump Era.
The College of Staten Island’s own Professor Lee Papa is an artist who tackles some of today’s largest social issues while maintaining an air of fun. Directing a play of both representation and intense nerdom, slaying the dragon of hatred.
The play opens with an overview of two sisters and their struggle to bond while living two vastly different lives. After one of the sisters tragically dies in a car accident, the second sister goes on a Dungeons and Dragons journey to discover the sister she never really knew.
Along the way, like any good Role Playing Game, she meets many different players who join her on a journey to discover who her sister was. These characters, each represent a different underrepresented member of our society that is given power within the game.
As stated in the play, “Every adventurer has a party!” And this party was a damn good one!
In traditional RPG style, the play follows the adventurers through a series of mishaps that test their courage and willingness to work together. Nguyen’s masterful comedic wit is displayed through these situations as each member of the party is a caricature of traditional RPG and fantasy film characters.
A shy school girl, and potential love interest, becomes a bad ass axe wielding mistress with a temper and a potty mouth as strong as her swing.
A paraplegic young girl becomes the sexy and strong battle elf, and a slacker becomes the overlord of hell!
By placing this band of tropes together, Nguyen builds, not only a party of adventurers, but a community for the underrepresented. The game being the bond that keeps them together.
He also plays on the movie trope of the black guy dying first as The Mighty Wizard of the East, Steve, is the stalwart volunteer of misery. Constantly cut down by each of the play’s bosses in order to display that boss’ power.
Yes, there are boss battles!
When the older sister meets the players in real life she becomes witness to a very powerful lesson. The game unites these people. It makes them equal, not only to each other, but to the larger community of gamers as well.
“Kelly gets to walk again. Ronte gets super strong. I get the girl.”
They are all gamers, regardless of their physical capabilities or sexual orientation.
The play is a subtle and resolute fight against any thought that members of communities not considered mainstream are any less than normal.
It also points to another problem: family.
The family you have, is the family you have. While you can create a family from the loyalties around you, your blood is your blood. Enjoy them while you can, before it is too late.
Qui Nguyen weaves a story that is layers deep and so important to our world today. Through Lee Papa’s imagination, and the wonderful talent of the actors here at CSI, we are able to find solace in a world we wished we lived in.
“The world finally embraced nerds. Not as outsiders, but as awesome.”
What more could you ask for?