by Lily Lebwohl
The scene is 1995 in Athens, Ohio. Agnes Evans finds a Dungeons and Dragons game that Tilly, her sister who recently died in a car crash, left behind. Through playing the game, Agnes is able to reveal secrets and learn more about her sister’s life.
This is the premise for the student-directed play, “She Kills Monsters: Young Adventurers Edition,” which was performed on May 5 and 6.
Junior Spencer Dittelman has been an active member of the theatre department for the past six years and decided that for one of his last shows at The Leffell School, he would assume the role of director.
“When you’re acting, you’re really only focusing on what you’re doing,” Dittelman said. “One of the big rules of acting is don’t tell anyone else how to act, but that’s all gone out the window. I’m focusing on everybody, and I’m trying to focus on acting and little bits and pieces of everyone’s character, not just my own.”
Junior Leanna Culter who played the role of Agnes, the female lead in the play, believes that being in a show directed by a fellow student is a far different experience than starring in one directed by an adult.
“You’re so close to the person directing it and it’s more like a project with your friends than a school thing,” Cutler said. “It feels organic because it’s people that you’re close with that you’re working with and people who understand you a lot better. The communication is also better and it’s a lot more fun to work with someone your age as opposed to a teacher telling you what to do.”
Interaction among students from different grades has been sparse this year, so sophomore Matan Katz felt that being in this play was the perfect way to interact with and get to know people that weren’t in his grade.
“I really enjoy spending time with my fellow cast members because there’s not a lot of chance to interact with people from different grades,” Katz said. “It’s really fun making new friends and hanging out with them while we’re learning our lines and practicing the play.”
Additionally, like all the challenges the pandemic brought this year, acting and directing a play was also significantly affected due to COVID-19 guidelines.
“There’s a lot of scenes in our play, specifically fight scenes and it’s difficult because we can’t be close to each other because of COVID,” Katz said. “Sometimes they’re a little awkward looking when we have to stay six feet apart at all times.”
Another challenge that students in the play faced was staying on task due to the lack of adult supervision.
“I think definitely staying on track [was challenging] because when it’s a bunch of teenagers in a room trying to be responsible, that never ends well,” Cutler said. “We always get sidetracked and watch random YouTube videos, talk or laugh for no apparent reason.”
Despite the difficulties in producing a student-directed play, Dittelman believes it was rewarding to see everyone’s hard work pay off.
“Once everyone remembered the lines was really when the acting takes place because they’re not focusing on trying to scramble to think of the words,” Dittelman said. “That’s when you get to see the talent people have. It has been incredibly fulfilling to see them develop their characters and act beautifully.”