A common phrase that's come up for me at many points in the rehearsal process for She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms is, "We've never done this before!" Said in exasperation, confusion, or with reluctant acceptance, this phrase that punctuated our process often parallels Agnes Evans’ journey in the play. Creating theatre through video calls, at the mercy of our internet connections, during one of the most challenging chapters of our lives, is a strange experience. But in many ways, we are uniquely prepared to tell this story.
Agnes is grieving the loss of her younger sister, Tilly, who she often felt disconnected from, and also exasperated with when Tilly was alive. Agnes learns about her sister through the magical and unfamiliar world of a Dungeons and Dragons campaign, a world loved and created by the sister Agnes is now missing. The journey hardly feels linear, and Agnes is often in over her head.
In many ways, our community is experiencing something very similar to Agnes. While Agnes learns to navigate the world of Dungeons and Dragons, we figure out how to gather virtually and from a new distance. As Agnes wrestles with the ups and downs of her grief, so do we. As Agnes struggles to connect with others in her life, we find ourselves in a highly isolating time of our lives too. The more Agnes learns about Tilly’s life, she becomes resistant, uncomfortable, and lost. Similarly, many of us are experiencing a painful uncovering of the vulnerabilities of our social systems and how deeply they have failed us in this moment of crisis. Like Agnes, we can’t always see the way through the darkness we encounter.
But as with any arduous quest, it’s not only hardship. Through the pain, we find healing. We grow. We discover. We ask for help. We listen. We learn to fight for ourselves, and for each other. Whether your current quest is making virtual theatre during a pandemic, navigating the waves of grief, engaging in the fight for justice, - or maybe all three at once - this story is for you. We all have different monsters to fight, unique abilities within ourselves to use in the world, and our own paths to forge. And knowing we are not alone can give us the strength we need to stand tall, use our voice, and slay the dragon.
Meredyth Pederson Cooper
Our production of She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms is the culmination of our two teen summer conservatories: Teens on Stage, 11 acting students, and Teens Backstage, 8 technical theatre students. Teens on Stage students attend classes, rehearse, and perform the show, while Teens Backstage students learn and apply skills to build and construct everything from props and costumes to graphics and animation and serve as the running crew for the production.
The Linda O’Day Young Scholarship
An annual scholarship has been created for Teens on Stage and Teens Backstage in honor of Linda O’Day Young. Linda was incredibly proud of the hard work and talent of teens and also of the Youth Scholarship Fund that has assured that no child is ever turned away from taking an RLT class or camp due to an inability to pay. In an effort to cherish Linda’s legacy, this fund specifically covers the cost of one participant’s tuition in each of the teens intensives: Teens on Stage and Teens Backstage.
If you or someone you know was impacted by Linda’s artistry and time here at Raleigh Little Theatre, we hope you will consider making a donation to this scholarship fund. You can donate online at raleighlittletheatre.org/donate and be sure to write “Linda O’Day Young” in the notes section of the online form.
As Linda said, “Theatre is love, and there is no better antidote for all the fear and anger in the world today than love.”