In 1995 Athens, Ohio, there was much more to life than the average day of gossiping on Facebook and posting your latest selfie on Instagram.
This month, the York College Performing Arts Center once again presented a compelling play titled, “She Kills Monsters” where the audience is taken on a literal journey full of laughs, relatable, encouraging life lessons wrapped up in the story of a girl trying desperately to reconnect with a loved one, even after it’s too late.
The play, based on Vietnamese-American playwright Qui Nguyen’s latest work, portrays a forgotten (though not far back) time before the emergence of social media, an aspect that gave the play a deeper dimension than expected.
The play focuses on two sisters who live very different lives. There’s younger sister Tilly, a lover of fantasy tabletop games with dragons, magic and evil villains, and Agnes, whose life consists of talking on the phone, hanging out with friends and impressing boys. Because of the wildly different personalities, the two barely bond together the way two sisters typically do.
Although never fully antagonistic towards her sister, Agnes did look at her lifestyle with befuddlement. She never understood her love for the fantastical and never bothered to ask. Instead, she always hoped that her sister would someday come out of her shell. One tragic day, when Agnes wishes Tilly’s life wouldn’t be so boring, the unthinkable happens. Agnes’ immediate family, Tilly included, dies in a fatal car accident.
As expected, Agnes is deeply affected by the sudden change in her life. After Tilly’s death, Agnes finds herself wanting to understand her sister once and for all. Discovering a game module book that Tilly wrote herself, Agnes finds herself absorbed by how much perspective it give into her life.
Agnes realizes there was more to the life of her younger sister than what was seen on the surface. The sister that she ignored for so many years
before her untimely passing turned out to be a girl who was teased and bullied in school. She was ostracized for being a gay youth in a society that refused to accept her sexuality and considered a freak for her love of all things fantasy. While Agnes knew Tilly was an outcast, she didn’t know that it was to this extent. The games she immersed herself in was much more than fun for Tilly, it was a much needed outlet after all the adversity she faced in real life. In the game, she at least felt like somebody important, triumphing over all of her problems, big and small, real and not real.
By the end of the play, Agnes understands her sister on a new level that she wishes she would have known prior to her death. She regrets that she found out about her sister’s hardships as late as she did. However, she was happy that she was able to connect with Tilly at all, even after death.
The director of the production, Jessica Pecharsky, highlighted the themes she tried to get across in her take of the play. She mentioned that gaining an understanding of those close to you is something we should all try to embrace before its too late.
“It teaches us acceptance for who we are truly inside,” Pecharsky said. “And love those who are close to you now, while you can. Life is short and anything can happen.” She also hoped to “inspire other young women to be strong, powerful and magical”
Pecharsky expressed her gratitude for the cast that came up with the idea of the play, which was a joined effort between her and her co-workers.
“I couldn’t be prouder of this production,” Pecharsky said. “The cast and production team has put so much hard work and they were so passionate. They made this play come alive within four weeks.”