‘The Wolves’: A realistic look into the lives of teenage female athletes

Every rehearsal of the upcoming Theatre and Dance production of The Wolves begins with extensive team warm-ups as App State student actors train for the 90-minute performance.

Every rehearsal of the upcoming Theatre and Dance production of “The Wolves” begins with extensive team warm-ups as App State student actors train for the 90-minute performance.

Tucker Wulff, Reporter

After the recent production of “The Laramie Project,” comes the Department of Theatre and Dance’s next main-stage production, “The Wolves.” “The Wolves” is a Pulitzer Prize Finalist by Sarah Delappe. The play follows a high-school girls’ soccer team through warm-ups before games.

Purple jerseys flood the stage lined with astroturf as scene one and warm-up one begins.

Each player brings a unique and realistic personality to the team. Many of the players have formed complex relationships with one another through several years of playing soccer together.

“It’s pretty accurate to real life I think,” Catherine Selden, cast member and freshman general theatre major, said. “It feels like real conversations, like real teenagers.”

Written in an unconventional style, the play does not follow one single plot structure, but rather attempts to present a set of deep characters who develop through interaction with one another.

As opposed to trying to decipher the overall narrative, members of the audience should instead choose to focus on what most interests them in the play, Paulette Marty, director and professor of theatre, said.

“There’s no wrong thing, no wrong character to be paying attention to,” Marty said.

Joy Siler, cast member and sophomore theatre performance major, said everyone will have their own distinct takeaway from the show. It’s going to be like seeing “a reflection of parts of yourself on stage,” Siler said.

Not only is the play unique in its focus on group dynamics, but it is also unique in its portrayal of teenage females, Marty said.

“One of the things I probably love most about this play is that teenage girls in the media are almost always displayed in very stereotypical ways,” Marty said. “That is not the lived experience of most teenage girls.”

The all-female cast also portrays female athletes as “a topic that is not explored a ton in the media; especially in a healthy, real way,” Siler said.

To exhibit a highly realistic cast of female characters, the soccer team discusses a wide variety of topics on stage. Defying a long-time stereotype, the girls touch on much more than attractive boys or teachers they don’t like. Some of the characters are dealing with difficult personal struggles throughout the show and others try to defuse serious topics, much like real people.

Global issues are another topic of discussion amongst the team, which further contradicts the stereotype of teenage girls.

The play is “also about being a middle class American,” Marty said. “There is this kind of undercurrent of trying to figure out how to process these horrible things that are happening to people who are different than you.”

Non-female-identifying and female-identifying individuals alike will relate to and resonate with the play in this way.

Ashton Pesterfield (left) and Delaney Marion (right) portray soccer players #7 and #14 in “The Wolves”.

“A lot of the problems that the characters deal with are not specific to women,” Siler said. This play “is for everyone.”

The two month rehearsal process has been different than most productions for not only members of the cast, but also members of the production team. Marty mentioned feeling especially comfortable at rehearsals for this production.

Members of the cast appreciated the first two weeks of rehearsals in which they went through in-character improvisations. This helped the cast to resonate more with their characters and to display their intricacies and depth, Selden and Siler said.

Throughout the process, actors have also learned more about themselves.

“I definitely feel like I’ve learned stuff about myself and about my 16-year-old self that I really didn’t think of before,” Selden said.

Due to the athletic nature of the production, cast members have also had to get into top physical shape. Each scene of the play takes place throughout the team’s soccer warm-ups and the actors will be doing a workout designed by Austin Pack, coach from Two Rivers Community School, while performing. 

Though the production has been difficult, it has also been rewarding for the members involved, Selden and Siler said.

“It’s a lot of work, especially fitting it into our schedules with classes and everything…I’m grateful I got to do this,” Selden said.

“The Wolves” premieres on Oct. 26 in I.G. Greer Hall. In the I.G. Greer Studio Theatre, the audience sits very close to the stage. During the show, members in the audience can see the slightest change in the facial expressions of the actors. This provides a very intimate setting between the audience and the performers, Marty and members of the cast agreed.

“(It’s the) perfect space for this play–to be that close is really great,” Marty said.

“The Wolves” promises to provide a unique experience for each audience member, as a window into reality for many teenage girls is opened, Siler said.

The production will accent how “teenage girls aren’t always what you think they are,” Selden said. “I feel like that’s a good story to tell.”

“The Wolves” will be performed from Oct. 26-Nov. 3, excluding Oct. 31. Tickets are available for students for $7 and the general public for $12.

Story by Tucker Wulff

Photos courtesy of Lynn Willis