New theater professor makes directorial debut

Kara McIntyre

Karen Dabney, theatre director, gives notes to the cast during rehearsal on Sept. 22. Photo by Gabriella Solis.
Karen Dabney, theatre director, gives notes to the cast during rehearsal on Sept. 22. Photo by Gabriella Solis.

The theater department will take audiences into the world of Dungeons and Dragons with the first fall play: She Kills Monsters by Qui Nguyen. This will be the debut of Karen Dabney’s direction, new assistant professor of theater.

“Because it’s my first show, there’s this whole momentum of newness coming and everybody has been so on board and excited,” Dabney said. “I had several shows that I had considered doing, but coming in not knowing what kind of actors were going to show up, I wanted a show that would serve a wide variety of actors.”

Set in 1995 in Athens, Ohio, She Kills Monsters is based on the character Agnes, an average high school teenage girl who sets out to learn about her sister Tilly’s world inside Dungeons and Dragons.

“I was drawn to the fact that She Kills Monsters gives the message that if you don’t fully put yourself out there, you’re not living a life with any stories,” Dabney said. “It’s all about imagination and storytelling and living out these different aspects of yourself that you don’t always get to show on a daily basis.”

The set design of this show is significantly different than other shows he has done at MSU, according to master carpenter junior Anthony Garza.

“This set is one of the most difficult sets I’ve ever built. It’s a lot of interesting angles and a lot of platforms that aren’t always stationary. This isn’t something you would normally think about seeing in theater,” Garza said. “It’s this crossover of two worlds and as the show progresses, the audience will be able to take that journey with Agnes.”

Sophomore theater major and lead female actress Ellanor Collins said she hopes audiences will keep an open mind when seeing the show.

“A lot of people go into theater and expect to be bored or confused, like they won’t get it or it’s over their heads or they ask; Why can’t they just say it the way it’s said? Why do they have to talk so weird? This show literally just says it the way it’s said,” Collins said. “The lines are so easy to memorize because it’s exactly the way we all talk right now. It’s not Shakespeare. It’s not the 1900s. It’s the 90s. It’s modern.”

Dabney said, “This play is harking back to a time before we had cell phones and social media and iPads. It was about coming together with your friends and having fun making up these crazy characters. There’s something so precious about that; we don’t spend enough time actually with people, and I hope audiences will learn that from this show.”

Admission is free for MSU students and faculty with a valid ID. Performances begin Oct. 1 at 7:30 p.m. in the Fain Fine Arts Center Theatre.