I am a nerd.
And that is why I love this play.
I never expected my alma mater to reach out to me to direct She Kills Monsters, but I'm so glad they did. My resume reads "Megan Tripaldi: Actor/Playwright" and directing always felt like something I could do, but didn't seek out. I never think of myself as a director, not because I can't do it, but because there are rare opportunities for me to feel like I want to express myself in that medium. But working on this play with this cast makes me feel like I've always been a director; they have given me that gift.
And these students? They're all nerds, too! And let me be clear, the word nerd to me is a term of endearment. I am proud of this cast of nerds because, even in the times that they feel the most challenged by societal expectations, they are 150% themselves and that is the most beautiful and brave thing that I have ever witnessed. They are the life this play needs.
This is not a feel-good story. This play starts with the tragic death of a young person and carries its characters through the stages of grief, all of which are experienced at different levels and at different times. Dungeons and Dragons becomes the vehicle for processing grief, but also offers an escape where the stakes are only high within the parameters of the fictional world that all of the characters live in. In this world they can be themselves as well as who they want to be, regardless of physical, mental, and emotional constraints. Because of this freedom, they are able to process the death of their friend and sister. Grief sucks, but nobody is alone in it.
I see so much of my younger self in this play because like pretty much every kid in America all I wanted was to be accepted, but at the same time I couldn't ever let myself be anything more than the weird kid who would start Irish step dancing in public, or zoning out in class because I was writing a mini musical in my head. My weirdness helped me find my people: theatre people. There is a home for the weird kids in this play, no matter what kind of nerd you are, no matter where your interest lies, and whether or not you play DND.
So while you’re sitting there, watching this delightful, painful spectacle unfold, let your younger self come out, let them feel everything they need to feel, let them play, let them fight, let them stand up for themselves.
Here's to surviving and thriving.
Here's to the weird kids.
Megan Tripaldi November 2021
Artistic Team, Production Team & Cast Biographies
Qui Nguyen is a playwright, TV/Film writer, and Co-Founder of the OBIE Award-winning Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company of NYC. He and his work, known for its innovative use of pop-culture, stage violence, puppetry, and multimedia, has been called "Culturally Savvy Comedy" by The New York Times, "Tour de Force Theatre" by Time Out New York, and “Infectious Fun” by Variety.
Plays include Vietgone, Poor Yella Rednecks, Revenge Song, Krunk Fu Battle Battle, Begets, Trial by Water, and the critically acclaimed Vampire Cowboys productions of She Kills Monsters, Soul Samurai, The Inexplicable Redemption of Agent G, Alice in Slasherland, Fight Girl Battle World, and Living Dead in Denmark.
For TV/Film, Qui's written for Dispatches from Elsewhere (AMC), The Society (Netflix), Incorporated (SyFy), Peg+CAT (PBS), and Marvel Studios. He's currently a screenwriter for Walt Disney Animation Studios.
Notable honors include a 2016 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Preschool Animated Program (Peg+Cat), 2016 Steinberg New Play Award (Vietgone), 2015 NY Community Trust Helen Merrill Playwriting Award, 2014 Sundance Institute/Time Warner Fellowship; 2013 AATE Distinguished Play Award (She Kills Monsters) and 2012 & 2009 GLAAD Media Award nominations for his plays She Kills Monsters and Soul Samurai.
He is a proud member of the WGA, Dramatists Guild of America, Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Ma-Yi Writers Lab, and an alumni of New Dramatists, Youngblood, and the Marvel Studios Writers Program.
Currently, Qui's developing new plays with Manhattan Theater Club/South Coast Rep, The Atlantic, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and Center Theatre Group/The Goodman.
His company, Vampire Cowboys, often credited for being the pioneers of "geek theatre", holds the unique distinction of being the first and currently only professional theatre organization to be officially sponsored by NY Comic Con.
Megan Tripaldi (Director) Megan Tripaldi (She/Her/They/Them) is an actor, bi-coastally produced playwright, and educator living and working in Portland, ME. They graduated from the University of Southern Maine with a BA in Theatre in 2012 and are currently in pursuit of a Masters Degree in Playwriting at Goddard College. They have had plays produced in Maine, Massachusetts, West Virginia, Washington, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and California. They love performing with and writing for their company, Polyphonic Theatre Ensemble (now a federal non-profit!) and creating new and exciting pieces for the PortFringe Theatre Festival every year. Megan’s “day job” is at STAGES Youth Theater, which has always held a special place in their heart. They’d like to thank Hollie for directorial inspiration and validation, Rocco for being the best partner in life and games, and of course their DnD character: Aurame the Shrill, a Chaotic Good level 5 Gnome, Bard Class.
Everett O'Neil (Technical Director & Scenic Designer) is thrilled to be part of the Theatre Department at The University of Southern Maine. He is an actor, singer, director, designer and does pretty much everything involved with the theatre. Everett attended Portland School of Art and holds a BFA from Boston University (Magna Cum Laude ‘96). He recently moved back to Maine after 7 years in Boston and 17 years in NYC. While in NYC, Everett was a Professional Scenic Artist working on Broadway (Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, Hamilton, Peter and the Starcatcher and more; television (Food Network, ABC, CBS, NBC), film and corporate events. As a NYC actor he originated the roles of Baltus Van Tassel in Sleepy Hollow, and Arris Warner in Beware the Chupacabra, both for NYNW Festival, NYC and FringeNYC. Everett has also performed at The Huntington Theatre Company in MA, The Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, Playhouse on Park, CONN, What Dreams May Co. NYC, York Shakespeare Co. NYC and Columbia University. He considers himself a Renaissance Man.
Madison MacDonald (Tiamat Puppet Maker) is a fifth year theatre major from West Bath with a concentration in scenic design and painting. She has built and painted scenery for most main stage shows at USM since 2017 including The Women Who Mapped the Stars and Dear Edwina.
Sage Bartlett (Puppet Maker & Bugbear Wrangler) is a second year theatre major (design/tech focus) from Eastport, Maine. This is the first USM mainstage production Sage has worked on. At Shead High School in Eastport, Sage worked on many productions including playwriting and puppet making for Mercedes’ Circus.
SeifAllah Salotto-Cristobal (Lighting and Projection Designer) has been telling stories using lighting and video for the past 16 years and is excited to see work back onstage at USM. He holds an MFA with a focus in Lighting and Projection Design from the University of Missouri - Kansas City and serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Southern Maine. He has been fortunate to get back into the theatre this past summer with shows in Maine (Theatre at Monmouth, Opera Maine, and Remote Theatre Project), Massachusetts (Wellesley Theatre Project and the Umbrella Stage Company), and Indiana (Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts). In the coming months, Seif will be back in Indiana designing Elf at Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts and is very excited to be making his Portland Stage Company debut designing the world premiere of Senior Living.
Kevin Hutchins (Costume Designer) has worked as a costume designer for over five years in the New England area and specializes in design for theatre for young audiences. He holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from the Boston Conservatory at Berklee and an MFA in Costume Design from Boston University, where he received the Virgil C. Johnson award for excellence in costume design. Kevin has worked for many theatre companies, including The Children's Museum and Theatre of Maine, Wheelock Family Theatre, Greater Boston Stage Company, and Boston Playwright's Theater. In addition, Kevin was a founding member of the CIC Theater Company and served as the Production Manager and Resident Costume Designer for over five years bringing theatre and theatre education to underserved youth all over the Boston area. Kevin's favorite costume design credits include James and the Giant Peach, Peter Pan, Anyone Can Whistle, and The Wizard of Oz, to name a few!
Chloe Call (Assistant Costume Design & Wardrobe Head) is a second year theatre major from upstate New York. She has previously created costumes for the show Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at Deertrees Theatre in Harrison, Maine.
Jake Cote (Fight Choreographer) is a big nerd from Bangor, Maine who holds a degree in Theatre from this very University. Jake has been very active in local theatre since graduating back in 2012. A company member of Mad Horse Theatre Company, he recently directed Radiant Vermin for them and is terribly proud of that. Very active with acting and sound design, he has been very fortunate to work with many companies here in Southern Maine. His career as a fight choreographer began when he was a “professional wrestler” for a brief time and since then has been trusted to create a bunch of wild and fun fights. Countless thanks to USM for letting Jake return to try to give back a little to a school that gave him an awful lot. Sit back, relax, and roll for initiative! (He is also a huge D and D fan)
Scott Leland (Sound Designer) is from Portland, Maine. Some of his past local credits include: Mad Horse Theatre Company (A View from the Bridge, The Explorer's Club, The Tomb of King Tot, Radiant Vermin, The Effect) Good Theater (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime) and AIRE (Da). Scott has a degree in Theatre from the University of Southern Maine and was previously the Assistant Technical Director for the Emery Community Arts Center in Farmington, Maine. Scott would like to thank Megan for the opportunity, his family, and Lesdy Cothrom Ur (his Level 14 Wildfire Druid.)
Janice Gardner (Intimacy Coordination) has collaborated on intimacy choreography on several USM shows and, most recently, on You Got Older at Mad Horse Theatre Company. She has trained in Intimacy Choreography for the Stage with Intimacy Directors and Coordinators (IDC). In addition to her role as Audience Services and Outreach Coordinator for the USM Department of Theatre, she serves as Executive Director of Mad Horse Theatre Company. She is an actor and voiceover artist and loves spending all day, every day in the world of theatre.
Ava Zipporyn (Stage Manager), originally from Massachusetts, is a fourth year double major in social and behavioral sciences and theatre with a minor in educational studies. Previously, she stage managed Camden Shakespeare Festival’s Summer 2021 production of Aquitania and was an ASM for USM’s 2020 production of Dear Edwina.
Sarah Berger (Assistant Stage Manager) is a senior theatre major from Wells, Maine with a concentration in production. She worked previously at USM in Dear Edwina and at the Ogunquit Playhouse during its 2020 youth program season as a member of runcrew.
Brendan Rynne (Assistant Stage Manager) is a first year theatre major from Kennebunk, Maine with a concentration in design. He previously worked as a spot-op for Dear Edwina with USM. In high school, he was the director for Last Day of School and co-stage manager for Almost, Maine.
Leah Mcmaster (Master Electrician) is a third year theatre major from Falmouth, Maine with a concentration in lighting. Their previous works at USM include The Women Who Mapped the Stars as the Light Board Operator, Broadway Babies: A Sondheim Birthday Bash as the Designer/Electrician and Dear Edwina as the Assistant Master Electrician.
Ashley McBreairty (Assistant Master Electrician) is from Gorham and is heading down the path of becoming a theatre major. She is very excited to be participating in her second show at USM. She has previously performed at other theaters since she was four years old and has been working in the technical side of theatre since she was eleven. Previously at USM, she participated in PAW’s production of The Wild Flowering of Chastity this past fall and looks forward to the next show.
Blaise Garcia (Assistant Lighting Designer) is a theatre and media studies double major with a concentration in production and design in his last year at USM. He has previously worked as the Master Electrician for multiple productions at USM, such as Women who Mapped the Stars, The Love of the Nightingale, and Dear Edwina.
Alyssa Folger (Assistant Projection Designer) is a third year from Topsham double majoring in theatre and media studies with a minor in dance. Some previous credits include Anything Goes, and Into the Woods with Midcoast Youth Theatre and Chicago, and The Sound of Music with Mt. Ararat Stage Company.
Shaughnessey Gower (Costume Shop Assistant) is a first year theatre student from Lebanon, Maine with a concentration in Costume Design. She has previously performed in Mamma Mia! (Sophie), Gilligan’s Island the Musical (Ginger), and The Marvelous Wonderettes (Missy).
Nicole Bilodeau (Evil Tina/Puppeteer) is a transfer second year psychology major, theatre minor from Kennebunk, Maine. Her most recent roles were in productions of Little Women, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), and Man of La Mancha at Kennebunk High School, as well as Frozen Jr. and The Little Mermaid Jr. at Ogunquit Playhouse.
Miles Bobbe (Miles) is a third year theatre major from Bath, ME. This is his first year at USM and his first show in college. He has worked on one play previously in high school titled A Man of the Past. He is more passionate about acting on camera but finds joy and kinship in stage theatre. His plans are to graduate and start his own production company.
Brooks Ewald (Orcus) is a third year theatre major from Falmouth, Maine. After a quick little stint in The Big Apple, Brooks is back and ready to jump back into the Maine theatre community. Some of Brooks’ favorite roles include Mr. Paravicini, The Mousetrap, and Mr.Harry Macafee, Bye Bye Birdie. When not working on a show Brooks is an active member of the voice acting community.
Robbie Faucher (The Presence/Narrator/Puppeteer) is an adult-ed student currently with third year standing in the theatre (performance) major. They are a trained Shakespearean actor whose former credits include Richard III in Richard III and Prospero in The Tempest
Noli French (Lilith Morningstar/Lilly) is a third-year theatre major from Gray, ME. In her time at USM, she has appeared in 35mm: A Musical Exhibition, Unlock’d, The Women Who Mapped the Stars, as well as Broadway Babies: A Sondheim Birthday Bash. Offstage, much of her time is dedicated to her work as a photographer.
Devan Glassock (Kaliope/Kelly) is a senior theatre student from Yarmouth with a concentration in performance. Her previous roles at USM have been Hero and Phaedra in the production of The Love of The Nightingale. Off stage she previously worked as an usher for Tartuffe and Winter Idyll, as well as the wardrobe crew for Unlock’d.
Juliet Moniz (Agnes) is a third year theatre major from Maui, Hawaii with a concentration in history/literature. Her experience as a playwright, technician, educator, and overall avid thespian include Dudelan, Tale of Despereaux, and Jekyll & Hyde. When not onstage, she is a lifeguard and counselor at Camp CenterStage in Livermore.
Makenzie Sands (Tilly) is a third year theatre major from Plymouth, ME with a concentration in technical theatre. Her previous roles have been in productions such as The Wizard of Oz, Bye Bye Birdie, But We Don't, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and The Taming of The Shrew, all of which were performed at Nokomis Regional High in Newport, ME.
Nash Tasker (Chuck) is a third year computer science major with a theatre minor from Berwick, ME. Nash has previously performed at USM as Bobby in Dear Edwina, and Caleb in Unlock'd. Nash has also performed at local theaters as Shrek in Shrek at Schoolhouse Art Center and Charlie in Willy Wonka at Prescott Park.
August Thornton (Steve) is a fourth year theatre major from Jay, ME with a focus in performance. Past shows that August has performed in at USM are Tartuffe, The Foreigner, and The Love of the Nightingale. When August graduates, he would like to continue his passion for acting on stage and in front of the camera.
Sophie Urey (Vera/Farrah the Faerie/Evil Gabbi) is a sophomore from Portland double majoring in theatre and history. Most recently she was in Good Theater’s production of Pack of Lies, and has also performed with the Portland Players, Lyric Music Theater, and other theaters in the Greater Portland area.
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