An exciting performance of sisterhood, queer-identity, and nerd culture!

Northern Illinois University’s School of Theatre and Dance will present She Kills Monsters at The O’Connell Theatre in the Stevens Building on Oct. 21-22 and 27-28 beginning at 7:30 each evening and matinees on Sunday, Oct. 23 and Saturday, Oct. 29 beginning at 2:00pm. If you love to laugh and be entertained this is the show for you! Fighting, flying, and monsters are just some of the highlights that the cast of She Kills Monsters has up their sleeve! It is a beautiful story about family, identity, and acceptance that manages to make us laugh and cry in one show.

You can purchase your tickets at the NIU box office website at General Admission tickets are $17, non-NIU students are $9, seniors (65 and over) are $15, and NIU students get in for free!

If you attend, She Kills Monsters you will laugh till you cry and cry until you laugh. A wonderful show full of stunts, fights, and dancing! It is a guarantee you will be entertained if you come see.

In her director’s note, Kendra Holton wrote, “It’s a story about queer futurity: a dream of a better way of being together as momentum to move forward and try. We see a young woman grapple with grief, loss, power, and triumph. We see queer characters determining how-to live-in society, asking what the world would need to be like to make it welcoming to all. The play is set in 1995, a positioning which manages to demonstrate both how far we’ve come and how far we’ve yet to go. And in the end, there’s sword fighting, a flying fairy, and a giant dragon – what more could we ask for at Halloween?”

For tickets and more information, please visit

NIU School of Theatre and Dance presents She Kills Monsters
Written by Qui Nguyen
Directed by Kendra Holton

Assistant Directors: Colton Leob and Derek May
Stage Manager: Jessie Ferreira
Assistant Stage Manager: Lizzie Ciszczon
Fight Choreographer: Joe Matyas
Choreographers: Kai Poe and George Curtis
Lighting Designers: Theresa Kelly and Brandon Wardell
Costume Designers: Elias Dennis and Caitlyn Kern
Assistant Lighting Designer: Kev Kollmann
Sound Design: Colton Leob
Technical Director: Elizabeth Ahles


Smalltown Ohio, 1995

Content Warning

Content warnings: death, grief, staged violence, strong language, sexual content, bullying, violence against women, violence against LGBTQ+ community, homophobia, PTSD, outdated humor and cultural references, bright lights, loud sound effects and music, fog and smoke.

Director’s Note

“Queerness is an aspiration toward the future. To be queer is to imagine better possible futures.”
José Esteban Muñoz, “Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity”

It’s quite a story: An average girl wishes to be less boring. She loses her family in a car crash. She spends the next five years growing into adulthood while living alone in her family home. I can’t say I’d be able to improve on that timeline—packing the belongings of lost loved ones is not for the faint of heart.

We drop in on Agnes as she delves into her sister Tilly’s imagined world of queer liberation, where she receives an unusual gift: The chance to experience Tilly exactly how she wanted to be seen. Through this lens, Agnes is empowered to move on with her life. Queer futurity as liberation for all.

In America, the LGBTQ+ community has more protections that it did in 1995. And yet, this fall, in this country, high schools and colleges are pulling this play from the stage because the characters are gay. This year, in the highest court in the land, reinterpretations of the fourteenth amendment threaten every law related to privacy including the legality of same-sex marriage. We aren’t done fighting. Stay vigilant. All have a part to play.

Thank you for joining us. Enjoy the show.


Narrator: Madigan Balfe
Tilly Evans: Emma Mansfield
Agnes Evans: Maya Paletta
Vera: Shannon Austin-Goodin
Chuck: Jack Gordon
Miles: Christian Oñante
Orcus: Finn Strumpf
Steve: Avery Flores
Lillith/Lilly: Emma Vaughn
Kaliope/Kelly: Lauren Roth
Evil Tina: Sydney Hamill
Evil Gabbi: Raenna Tremethick
Farrah: Charlotte Whitely


Fight Captain: Shannon Austin-Gordon
Dance Captain: Maya Paletta
Wardrobe: Sophie Insley, Emily Christianson, Jukari Jones, Kristian Franklin
Props Assistants: Jessie Ferreira, Caitlyn Kern, Eric Brockmeier, Sarah Blickem, Hernan Acosta, Cameron Gra
Run Crew: Garin Wilks, Kendall Woodberry, Jalen Kent, Germaine Mendoza

Cast Bios

Madigan BalfeMadigan Balfe (Narrator) is a sophomore B.F.A. acting candidate. She is ecstatic to make her NIU debut! She attended Pittsburgh’s Creative and Performing Arts school and Pittsburgh Musical Theater. Because of COVID-19, she has taken up creative team positions in recent years. Having not performed onstage since, she is thrilled that “She Kills Monsters” marks her return. She’d like to thank her parents, the Ryersons, and her dogs for being cute.

Emma MansfieldEmma Mansfield (Tilly Evans) is a third year B.F.A. acting candidate. This is Mansfield’s second show here at NIU, previously playing Mary in “The Language Archive” by Julia Cho last spring. They are honored and excited to share this story with you.


PalettaMaya Paletta (Agnes Evans)  From Seattle, Washington, Paletta is a junior B.F.A. acting candidate and dance minor. “She Kills Monsters” will be her second play at Northern Illinois University. She played A-Gay in “Hit the Wall” directed by Ericka Ratcliff last spring. You may have also seen her dancing in the NIU Fall ‘21 Dance Concert, “Best of Broadway.” Paletta is honored to be trusted in collaboration with such a powerhouse production. Instagram: @mayapapaya5678. This one is for Zoey.

Shannon Austin-GoodinShannon Austin-Goodin (Vera) is a senior B.F.A. acting student here at Northern Illinois University and her previous credits at NIU include Peg from “Hit the Wall” by Ike Holter, Vanessa from “Bird in the Hand” by Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas, and A from “Townhall” by Caridad Svich. She is so honored to be a part of this amazing show and to get to work on it with such an awesome group of artists. She hopes you enjoy the show.

Jack GordonJack Gordon (Chuck)
is a third year B.F.A. in acting candidate who is siked to be in “She Kills Monsters.” Recently, Jack made his professional debut as a member of Canterbury Summer Theatre’s 2022 Resident Company. At NIU, Gordon flew around as Golden Pheasant in “Conference Of The Birds” directed by Cecilie D. Keenan. He wants to thank his family (biological/NIU), friends and cast/crew for the endless support.

Cristian OnateCristian Oñate (Miles) is an actor and dancer. He has performed with the Goodman Theater’s PlayBuild Intensive as a camp counselor in “From Camp, With Love” (devised), was seen as Aladdin in “Aladdin” at the Greenhouse Theater within Take the Stage, and Gaston in “Beauty and the Beast” at the Greenhouse Theater within Take the Stage in Chicago.

Finn StrumpfFinn Stumpf (Orcus/Ronnie) is a third year B.A. theatre studies student and this is their second show here at Northern Illinois University. At NIU, they were previously seen as the Owl in “The Conference of the Birds,” directed by Cecilie Keenan, and they were the assistant director of “Edward II” directed by Frankie DiCiaccio. They hope you enjoy “She Kills Monsters” and hopes that you roll well during your next session of D&D, you’ll need it.

Avery FloresAvery Flores (Steve) is a sophomore B.F.A. acting candidate and a psychology minor. This is his first time ever being a part of an NIU production as well as being a part of his first play ever. He would like to dedicate his performance to all his family and friends, and is beyond excited to be a part of this production and hopes everyone enjoys the show.

Emma VaughnEmma Vaughn (Lillith/Lilly) is a junior B.F.A. actor at NIU, and she is so excited to play Lillith/Lily in this production of “She Kills Monsters.” She was previously seen as Mockingbird in “Conference of the Birds” at NIU last semester and has been in many other plays in her home state of Texas. She recently studied at the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin and spends the rest of her time studying music as a music minor here at NIU. Emma hopes you enjoy this wonderful show.

Lauren RothLauren Roth (Kaliope/Kelly) is a sophomore B.F.A. actor. She is excited to make her NIU debut in “She Kills Monsters.” She is incredibly grateful to be a part of making this show come to life, and for all the people that helped do so. Lauren hopes that you have just as much fun watching the show as the cast had making it.

Sydney HammillSydney Hamill (Evil Tina/Combatant)
is a B.F.A. junior in the School of Theatre and Dance at NIU. She has been in such productions as “Bird in the Hand” and “Town Hall.” She is overjoyed to have been cast in such a fun and entertaining show. Sydney is also extremely happy and grateful to the cast and crew for working together to put on such a great show.

Raeanna TremethickRaeanna Tremethick (Evil Gabbi/Combatant) is a sophomore B.F.A. acting candidate. This is her first production at NIU, and she is extremely grateful to work alongside this cast and crew. She has acted in “Romeo and Juliet” as Lady Capulet, and “Murder at Aunt Agatha’s” as Rose. Tremethick would like to dedicate this performance to her parents for their endless amount of love and support for her during this journey.

Charlotte WhiteleyCharlotte Whitely (Farrah/Combatant) is a fifth-year B.A. theatre studies student at Northern Illinois University. Their previous credits include Marilyn In NIU’s production of “Bike America.” Outside of NIU, her past roles include co-playwright of “I Haven’t the Slightest Clue” (Indian Creek) and Savanna in the Third Onion production, “A Murder Happened.” After graduation, Whitely plans to continue her voice acting career and maybe write some more scripts. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Production Team Bios

Kendra Holton (Director) is a queer, climate-focused experiential educator. The former head of movement training for the NIU School of Theatre and Dance, she has logged thousands of classroom hours, including most classes in the B.F.A. and B.A. performance sequences and seven years curating voice and movement curriculum as associate director of the Gately/Poole Conservatory. Kendra has directed a dozen plays at NIU (most recently “The Wolves,” “The Revolutionists,” “Blue Stockings” and “Good Person of Setzuan”) and coached dozens more. Raised on Florida swampland by way of New York City, she trained at Moscow Art Theatre and Shakespeare and Company, and mentored under multiple master teachers in several performance disciplines. She’s among the last of the certified Williamson Technique teachers, and is an intimacy specialist for stage and film. Holton is the founder of cyclical creativity resource collective Human in Public, and cofounder of Actors Movement Camp, a nature-based retreat series for performance artists. She is currently exploring the ways in which performance training can be of service to the fight for climate adaptation. She lives in DeKalb with her son, three cats and a growing urban farm.

Joe Matyas (Fight Choreographer) is a teaching artist from New Jersey by way of Philadelphia, where he graduated from the University of the Arts. He is a decade into mentorship under Loyd Williamson, and is a certified teacher of the Williamson Technique (and proud Williamson purist). Joseph teaches classes and retreats all over Chicagoland. He has crafted movement curriculum for the Gately/Poole Conservatory as well as B.F.A. actors at Northern Illinois University, where he regularly coaches physical impediments for the School of Theatre and Dance production season.

Colton Blase Loeb (Assistant Director) is a fourth-year B.A. theatre studies major with an emphasis in directing and a minor in nonprofit and NGO studies graduating this December. This is his second time assistant directing at NIU, first for “Angels In America.” Colton would like to thank the cast and crew for their dedication and focus during the rehearsal process.

Derek May (Assistant Director) is excited to be an assistant director for “She Kills Monsters.” This is a new experience for him, but not his first time being involved in a show here at NIU. He first was in props crew for “Kernel of Sanity,” wardrobe crew for the spring dance last year, and was Mark Maners in Hailey Stark’s capstone project of “Need to Know.” He thanks everyone for allowing him to be a part of this amazing show.

Jessie Ferriera (Stage Manager) is a senior pursuing a degree in B.F.A. Design and Technology with an emphasis in stage management here at NIU. Her previous credits include assistant stage manager for “Twelfth Night, or What You Will.” And stage manager for “The Language Archive.” This is Jessie’s last show at NIU, and she is happy beyond words that this is the show to send her off.

Lizzie Ciszczon (Assistant Stage Manager) is a second year B.F.A. technical theatre and design major. Her previous work at NIU was doing costumes on “Twelfth Night” and run crew for the Spring Dance Concert. She is very excited to be working on “She Kills Monsters” as the ASM. She also hopes you enjoy the show as much as she does.

Production Team

Scenic Coordinator: Sahin Sahinoglu
Scene Shop Supervisor: Adam Rager
Costume Design Advisor: Jeremy W. Floyd
Costume Director: Lori Hartenhoff
Costume Shop Supervisor: Clare Ritchey-Kaplan
Lighting Design Advisor: Brandon Wardell
Resident Master Electrician: Chris Kurszewski
Prop Shop Assistant: Eric Brockmeier
Technical Direction Advisor: Tracy Nunnally
Stage Management Supervisor: Kev Kollman
House Manager Supervisor: Cornelia Hayes

Special Thanks

Big thanks to Rich Grund, Jeremy Floyd, Tracy Nunnally, Kay Martinovich, Stanton Davis, Alex Gelman, Bethany Magnum, Emily Vitrano, Lori Hartenhoff, Clare Richey Kaplan, Jordan Clifton, Elias Dennis, Caitlyn Kern, Sahin Sahinoglu, Chris Kurszewski, Dave Doherty, Brandon Wardell, Marc Macaranas, Elizabeth Ahels, Eric Brockmeier, Kev Kollmann, Cornelia Hayes, Jessie Ferreira, Lizzie Ciszczon, Colton Loeb, Derek May, Joe Matyas and Jack Matyas.