CASPER, Wyo. — Natrona County High School Drama Department students performed their opening night staging of Qui Nguyen’s “She Kills Monsters” on Thursday, May 2.
There will also be 7 p.m. performances Friday, May 3 and Saturday, May 4. Tickets are $5 and proceeds will help send the cast to the International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, Nebraska the last week of June, where they’ll perform the one-act play.
Ahead of the “She Kills Monsters” staging, several students performed individual pieces that Director Zachary Schneider said they’ll take to the festival.
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“We’ve been to the thespian festival before,” Schneider said. “Every state has their own state-level thespian festival. We had ours in December and we won the Proscenium One Act. That play represents Wyoming at this festival. So it’s the first time that we’ve been able to do that.”
“The play really is an ensemble piece, but in our individual events, in our solo musical we have Ana Zettl and Jessica Cowen and Skyleigh Armstrong. They all are taking solo musical pieces. And then Cameron Allender is taking a monologue. Our stage manager for this show, Matt Hills, is taking a costume design.”
“They’re going to be in the running to take Superior honors at the festival.”
Schneider said that NC’s thespian troupe will have a unique presence at the festival.
“It’s 4,000 of the best high school thespians there and one cool thing, we get treated like royalty because we’re Thespian Troupe No. 1,” he said. “It’s the 90th birthday of the International Thespian Society so the kids always get a kick that, ‘You’re from Casper, Wyoming and you’re number one?'”
“They always expect that it’s some big metropolitan area, but it’s us, so it’s extra special.”
Schneider added that he’d selected “She Kills Monsters,” for a variety of reasons. One was because the plot centers around the board game “Dungeons and Dragons.”
“Growing up I was a Dungeons and Dragons nerd,” he said. “I liked comic books and I liked grunge music.”
“I graduated in ’94. This play is set in 1995, so it hits right to me. That intrigued me. It’s very humorous but it also has a serious side. It examines this girl’s life because she was bullied, because she was gay, because she was a nerd, because she didn’t fit in.”
“As a kid that was at least a nerd in Casper, I understood what it felt like to be on the fringe. As a theatre teacher, I see kids who are LGBTQ who are on the fringe and so the play just really spoke to me as, you know, we have to take care of everybody in school. I want to tell a story that high school students I hope will understand and appreciate.”
Schneider said he and the students need to raise about $9,000 more to go to the June festival. He said that ticket sales allow them to do what they do.
“What we’ve been doing in the past is the ticket sales are what fund our program,” he said. “We’re kind of unique in a lot of the school activities in that way.”
He said that students have also been selling chocolate bars to raise funds. They’re also accepting donations.
Schneider said that the festival includes more than just the performances.
“It’s a full week of workshops with professionals and college professors,” he said. “There are auditions.”
“I am just excited I have a great group of kids. We’re really excited about the future of what we can keep bringing to Casper.”
Schneider said there are 20 students in the “She Kills Monsters” cast. Tickets for Friday and Saturday’s 7 p.m. performances can be purchased at www.nchs.booktix.com, at NC’s Main Office or at the door.
“Due to some mild language and battle scenes, this play is appropriate for audiences 13 and older,” an NCSD press release said.
The “She Kills Monsters” performances will be staged in NCHS’s John F. Welsh Auditorium.