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Joy, Trauma and Fantasy: Branksome Hall Presents "She Kills Monsters"

Adolescents go through a wide range of experiences in their young lives. From navigating friendships and dating, to finding new hobbies and dealing with emotions, life can get tough for young adventurers. Students explored these themes on November 29 and 30, 2023, when Branksome’s talented Senior School thespians and artists brought performances of She Kills Monsters to the community.
She Kills Monsters tells the story of Agnes Evans, an average teen who loses her little sister Tilly in a car accident. Having been very distant from her sister while she was alive, Agnes embarks on an adventure to get to know Tilly better by playing a Dungeons & Dragons module that Tilly had written, and discovers things she'd never imagined. The plot takes place both in reality and in the imaginary game world; in the game world Agnes learns about Tilly's exploration with her sexuality and how she struggled with it in her real life. “Through the play, students investigated a range of themes including gender identity, grief, love and joy,” said She Kills Monsters’ producer, Annie Wood. “It is an important play, and was a courageous journey of collaboration, exploration, risk taking and creation!”

The community gathered at the Aga Khan Museum Auditorium to watch as the dedicated and talented team of students and teachers put on an unforgettable show. People of all ages were glued to their seats, eager to take in every scene and explore the deep stories of each character on stage.
She Kills Monsters director, Angela David, shared what it was like seeing the actors, creative team and crew collaborate to bring the show together: “Working on She Kills Monsters was refreshing. We were able to put strong female-identifying characters forward for our students to explore. There were many opportunities in the play for students to develop acting skills that are not usually given to females, not the least of which was stage combat.” In the fictional world of Dungeons and Dragons, slaying monsters and sparring with knights and paladins requires great skill. For weeks, the students learned how to swing prop weapons and fight onstage with Rapier Wit, a Toronto-based company that teaches stage combat to actors. “The moments we worked with Daniel from Rapier Wit were transformational and necessary for our actors to learn the rigor and diligence needed to choreograph and execute sword fights on stage. It was truly a unique experience,” notes David. 
The students on the creative team and crew had no small task either. From poster design and making beautiful costumes and sets, to finding the right lighting and creating sound effects, these students worked hard to perfect the show. 
With the curtain now closed and the fall term coming to an end, Branksome Hall congratulates all of the talented members of the She Kills Monsters team. “Congratulations to all of the students and teachers in the cast, crew and creative teams,” said Annie Wood. “Your dedication and hard work resulted in an outstanding performance and celebration of the performing arts. Thank you for sharing your love and passion for theatre with our community!”
We wish to acknowledge this land on which Branksome operates. For thousands of years, it has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River. Today, this meeting place is still the home to many Indigenous peoples from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work and go to school on this land.

Setting the new standard for girls' education everywhere takes collective action. From all of us.