A Conversation with “She Kills Monsters” Director Chris Boscia

Our Convo with Chris

Open Space sits down with Chris Boscia, director of the Drama Dock production She Kills Monsters

A tragedy. A notebook. A twisting journey through 90s nostalgia lined with Dungeons and Dragons, nasty ogres, and self-discovery. She Kills Monsters opens this weekend on Friday, November 15th and runs through next weekend at Open Space. We sat down with Chris Boscia, director of the upcoming Drama Dock production to learn more about the production.

Director Chris Boscia
Director Chris Boscia

Open Space: How long have you been working with Drama Docks?

Chris: I moved to the island 4 years ago from NYC, but I spent many years in Seattle before that directing and acting in plays on the mainland. Last year I performed here at Open Space for the Drama Dock World AIDS Day production of The Normal Heart. This is my very first adventure with Drama Dock as a director and I’m delighted they pinned me down for this.

What is your connection with Vashon Island?

I live here now. I’m a Spanish teacher and a chef here, but I also teach Acting at VCA. This year, I founded and curate Vashon Readers Theatre where we mount staged readings of plays from classics to contemporary comedies to brand new plays. Recently I directed a terrific staged reading of Sam Shepard’s True West which I was incredibly proud of. I’m excited to have a few more projects in the works on island in the next few months, something that I could never accomplish back home in NYC.

Dungeons and Dragons plays a significant role in this production. Do you have a background in that arena?

I do not. No role play games whatsoever, no cosplay conventions. Zilch. I however have learned all about it now, and am even more fascinated about D&D than I was when I first picked up the script.

What was it like to direct a cast with a variety of ages?

I have an extensive background in directing and teaching children. I used to be an actor-teacher for various theatres and companies around Seattle such as The Intiman where we would go out into the schools and workshop ideas and characters through education with students. Our Monsters cast ranges from age 15 to 30, and they all mesh seamlessly. They’ve created a very happy family, which makes them a dream team for me to guide. I love working with this particular age group. I am looking forward to the Spring though, when I get to direct Crimes of the Heart for Take A Stand Productions. All adults: no school schedules to contend with.

 

“Our cast represents a little bit of everything that is the fabric of Vashon.”

 

Who would you recommend this production for?

Everyone that can handle the realistic themes of bullying, homophobia, hate and family loss but told through wit and sarcasm, fantasy, pathos, and a whole lot of stage combat. It’s written for an adult sensibility,  so I urge all adults to come. Mature kids will absolutely love it,  but don’t  drop off your kids and go. Stay and enjoy the adventure with them.

She Kills Monsters
She Kills Monsters, presented by Drama Dock

How does working with a diverse cast improve your ability to tell an impactful story?

I really promised myself that in order to tell the story of “otherness” with characters that were geeks or lesbian or disabled or fat or skinny or tall or anything other than “straight white male”, I had a duty to seek out those island denizen. And I succeeded. Amazingly. Many of our cast have never been in a play before of this caliber, or onstage at all. Our cast represents a little bit of everything that is the fabric of Vashon. I can’t tell you how many of our wonderful performers read the play and said “that’s ME in that play, please can I audition?” Casting them made my work that much easier to tell the story we tell. Their passion is amazing.

Is there a character or scene from the show with which you particularly identify?

There are a few. The play, at heart, is about how to cope with loss. Our protagonist loses a sibling and strives to connect with her, somehow. Through D & D she manages to get a peek into her sister’s life. There is a particular scene where she wishes she had said something to her. It’s just a moment, but I think we can all relate to that feeling. In Monsters too, the theme of being an “other” is prevalent. How these geeky characters find themselves, and how they define themselves as superheroes is another theme that strikes me personally.

As a coming of age story, this show is full of lessons. Which is the most important for you that the audience walk away with?

I shy away from theatre that teaches lessons. I don’t direct that way and I certainly hope that our actors agree. Our production is filled with little moments that will make you laugh, or well up, or think “wow, what the hell was THAT I just saw?”  But, in the end if I had to answer you , as my dear friend and actor in the show, Lucy Rogers said “Life is a series of stories to tell and you have to make those stories”  Its a simple statement coming from a 16 year old girls perspective, but I am going to learn from her and run with it if I can.

She Kills Monsters is set in the 90s. How do you go about capturing that nostalgia on the stage?

It’s a secret. Come see the show to find out what we do to take us back “way way way back to the 90s.”

The show has a recommended minimum age limit. Which elements of the show would you like families to consider before bringing children under 14?

I don’t think it’s appropriate for kids under 14 unless they are well prepared for the mature themes. But it’s up to each parent to decide that. Please don’t send kids alone as there are some very frank themes and discussions verging on R -rated.

 

“[The story is] about SO MUCH MORE. For anyone who has ever lost a loved one, or for anyone that has never belonged, or for anyone that always wanted to be a badass warrior but never had the guts, this story is for you.”

 

What are the challenges and benefits of putting on a performance in the Vashon community?

The usual challenges I’ve always faced when directing a large cast. Scheduling. But that’s accomplishable. The benefits are far too many to mention. Want a poster? It’ll be ready in 5 minutes at the copy shop. Need a wheelchair? Oh, there’s one right there. Who can build me a giant puppet? Done. Now if only we knew someone that can make us blood and guts. We do… Frankly, Open Space is by far one of the most amazing theatres I’ve ever worked in, and I’m very excited for people to see how we have completely reworked the space.

What is one thing about the show that you would like readers at home to know?

When I sat down to read the play for the very first time after it was offered up to me to direct, I hesitated to get past the description. What does this middle-aged Cuban-American  guy know or care about the world of Dungeons and Dragons, geekdom and 90s nostalgia? But it was a page turner and I devoured the script in an hour. It’s about SO MUCH MORE. For anyone who has ever lost a loved one, or for anyone that has never belonged, or for anyone that always wanted to be a badass warrior but never had the guts, this story is for you. Oh, and who doesn’t like a good pratfall or two?

She Kills Monsters follows the story of Agnes Evans as she leaves her childhood home in Ohio following the death of her teenage sister, Tilly. When Agnes finds Tilly’s Dungeons & Dragons notebook, however, she stumbles into a journey of discovery and action-packed adventure in the imaginary world that was Tilly’s refuge. In this high-octane dramatic comedy laden with homicidal fairies, nasty ogres, and 90s pop culture, acclaimed young playwright Qui Nguyen offers a heart-pounding homage to the geek and warrior within us all.

Presented by Drama Docks. Catch She Kills Monsters performances at Open Space on November 15-17 and November 21-24.

To learn more, listen to the PSA and get your tickets here today!

 

 

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