“Theater of purpose” is a phrase used around Indian Creek School to describe the philosophy of using school theater to intentionally provide experiences that engage the minds of students and stretch them to question their existing schema. As everyone associated with ICS theater has come to know, a school play at Indian Creek is never just a school play. Our theater department has a tradition of challenging themselves with productions that scare them. Not typically scary in a ‘bad guys and monsters’ sense, but scary in a “Can we really do this with high-schoolers?” sense. This year’s production of acclaimed young playwright Qui Nguyen’s “She Kills Monsters” is no exception!
While “She Kills Monsters” does feature literal monsters, it is the figurative monsters that have the most impact. Wrapped inside this tongue-in-cheek celebration of geek culture and all things ’90s, SKM is a poignant story about the universal experiences of teen angst and struggles with grief. This high-octane dramatic comedy is laden with homicidal fairies, nasty ogres, and plenty of 90s pop culture references, which will engage the audience through incredible costuming and fast-paced stage combat. This November, the ICS Monsters cast hopes to inspire the geek and warrior within us all.
The Creek cast is more than ready to take on this challenge, and have bolstered their confidence even further by yielding swords, staffs, and general ferocity. Last weekend, the Monsters cast and crew welcomed two guests who elevated their rehearsal experience to soaring heights. On Saturday, the cast was visited by original “She Kills Monsters” cast member, professional actor, and stage combat expert Nicky Schmidlein. Ms. Schmidlein played both the Narrator and the scene-stealing evil faerie “Farrah” in the original cast of “She Kills Monsters,” which was produced at The Flea Theater in New York. She answered questions from the Creek cast about what life is like as an actor in New York and offered tips and tricks that are specific to this unique show. It’s very rare for student actors to have the opportunity to meet with the professionals who have originated the roles they are playing. Indian Creek is incredibly thankful to Ms. Schmidlein for the insight and excitement she shared with our students.
As if this experience wasn’t thrilling enough, our SKM Directors also engaged Casey Caleba of Tooth and Claw Combat to work with the cast for an entire weekend of professional stage combat training. Mr. Caleba is an award-winning combat artist who has “coordinated violence” for more than 400 productions with professional theaters worldwide. That work includes arranging fights at the Ford's Theatre, Folger Theatre, Wolf Trap Opera, Washington National Opera, and Constellation Theatre among many others. Casey has trained with movement artists from across the globe, including Fight Directors Canada, the Society of Australian Fight Directors, British Academy of Stage and Screen Combat, and the British Academy of Dramatic Combat. (And recently he has served as the audition choreographer for Marvel Universe Live!) During his weekend at Indian Creek, Casey worked with the 16 student SKM cast members to choreograph both individual fights and epic battles for our school production. Having worked on many professional productions of “She Kills Monsters,” he was able to work with the students on both fight choreography and intricate details like how their characters would carry themselves reacting to specific moments in the production.
This world-class level training was an incredible experience for the Indian Creek actors. The students shared that the training was very different – and even more amazing - than they had expected. “I’ve never felt more powerful,” shared junior Ava Rouse.Click here to view a full album of SKM combat training.