Theatre Arts & Dance Department
Here be dragons in ‘She Kills Monsters’
"In a world where imagination is dwindling, role-playing games such as “Dungeons & Dragons” offer gaming enthusiasts a chance to escape reality and battle monsters, use magic and perfect their combat skills. The theatre department at Sonoma State has decided to explore the world of D&D with their upcoming production of “She Kills Monsters.” - Sonoma State Star
Interview with John Sullins III
She Kills Monsters Fight Director, D&D Enthusiast
and SSU Philosophy Professor
When were you first introduced to Dungeons & Dragons?
I got into it in 1977. I was in seventh grade at the time and I remember having to mow lawns to afford the game. The game was very hard to figure out, but luckily my father took me to a convention where the game was being played and I learned from the author of Basic D&D, J. Eric Holmes. I became the Dungeon Master (DM) for our group and I ran games for many years until I went away to college. During that time I attended other conventions and at one I met Dave Arneson [co-creator of the Advanced Edition], and from him and others I learned the more complex versions of the game. At this point in time I have played just about every version of the game and many of the hundreds of other role playing games that have grown out of the gaming world that Gygax and Arneson created in 1974. I occasionally get together with other similarly deranged faculty members and we play in a campaign setting that the DM has been running pretty much non-stop for 30+ years.
As you watched D&D develop over the years, what’s been your reaction?
The game has a storied past. It was quite a social phenomenon back in the day and I remember my church pastor and my parents worrying about my involvement in the game. But, since the game bothered our parents so much, it really fit the punk rock attitude of the time and it made it even more fun to play!
What kind of training did the cast require for the Monsters’ fight sequences?
Very extensive. They put in ten hours a week on top of the acting and voice work they had to do. They had to learn stunt falls, punches, kicks, how to die dramatically, sword work, and various other skills like using a whip, and double-handed knife play. Each play is different but I wanted to pay tribute to the great over-the-top fight choreography of the 80s and 90s that you might find in films like the Conan the Barbarian films from the early 80s and Xena: Warrior Princess from the 90s. With that I am also trying to get the video game feel to some of the movements the actors are making, since that is the angle most of our audience will be familiar with.
What is your background in fight choreography?
I have been working in fencing and martial arts longer than I have been playing the game. It is my interest in weapons and martial arts that got me into the game in the first place. So, about 40 years now, and I have been teaching these skills for about 30 years.
- Lauren Luedtke, Dramaturg
She Kills Monsters
2014 American College Dance Festival Association
Twenty-three Sonoma State dance students, director Kristen Daley and faculty member Christine Cali will travel to Arizona State University this March for the 2014 American College Dance Festival Association's (ACDFA) West Regional Conference. The festival is an opportunity for dancers to perform, present choreography for feedback, take classes and engage in critical discourse with dance students and faculty from the Western Region.
Christine Cali will bring the work Suspect to ACDFA with eight student dancers, an original score by Matt Langlois, AKA The Welcome Matt, and costumes by Pamela Johnson. Suspect was originally created during an artist residency at Ohio University in January 2014. Student choreography will also be presented at ACDFA by Jenna Valez and Nichele Van Portfleet.
Jenna and Nichele are no strangers to ACDFA, both choreographers had their work performed at the festival in 2013. Jenna's work, The Bystander Effect was performed in the Informal Concert opportunity and Nichele's work, Parched was submitted for adjudication and received the high honor of selection for the Gala Concert, as was Kristen Daley's work Interface with an original composition by SSU's dance accompanist and teacher Jesse Olsen Bay. The selection of both works for the Gala Concert is quite a rare feat, and offers the opportunity to showcase the strength of the Sonoma State Dance Program.
Jenna and Nichele will have a second opportunity to present their work alongside thirteen talented student choreographers in Spring Dance 2014, directed by Christine Cali. The work of these fifteen vivacious and talented choreographers and over 60 dancers will shake up Person Theater, April 11 - 19 via Modern, Ballet, Jazz, Hip Hop, Contemporary dance and more!