Part Of The Pack

Part Of The Pack

‘The Wolves’ a revealing slice of adolescence


“When we start the play, we’re immediately on a planet of teenage girls,” playwright Sarah DeLappe said in an NPR interview about her 2016 play, “The Wolves.” The show, directed by Shana Gold, opens this week at TheatreSquared in Fayetteville. “Instead of following a brigade of young men in the trenches or preparing to go to war, we’re following a team of young women who are preparing for their own sort of battle on the soccer field.”

It’s not hard to trace Delappe’s analogy throughout the raw, fierce play she’s written — her first, and a Pulitzer Prize finalist, at that. Her dialogue comes machine gun fast, frequently overlapping in two — or three — separate conversations; alliances are formed and dissolved; competitors are sized up and conquered.

Or, not, depending on the match of the day. The play takes place over six Saturdays as a girls’ indoor soccer team stretches and prepares to play the game. Most of the characters have known each other since childhood, though there are a few newcomers. Delappe’s scathingly funny script gives many of the Wolves that special talent that only teenage girls have of being wittily, thrillingly, almost-but-not-quite mean. But her remarkable ear for authentic teen girl conversations keeps things from devolving into stereotypes. Fairly quickly the surface conversations — about subjects as varied as genocide, periods and immigration — reveal significant details about each girl. The biggest marvel of “The Wolves” is how much we’re allowed to witness as these young women make discoveries about themselves and others — despite the spare, biting script.

“I love that the young women (particularly our wonderful cast of actors) in ‘The Wolves’ are given an opportunity to look strong, be aggressive and take up space,” notes Gold. “As the audience watches the players warm up, it’s like being a fly on a wall for their conversations: Sometimes the audience will need to let the simultaneous, chaotic teenage dialogue wash over them, other times it’s clear, quiet or just raucous and hilarious like orchestration — and seeing how they socialize as young women in the midst of forming their own identities as individuals and where they fit into the pack, as it were — the search for individual accomplishment while wanting acceptance in the group. Who is in, who is out.”

Actor Lily Talevski says that the developments in “The Wolves” “are really important parts of life, like forming yourself, and growing up. Those are really formative years, as you develop into a young adult, and you have to embrace that. Young people have to indulge themselves in feeling that confusion — otherwise, you’re not going to learn from it.”

“You have to give yourself permission to have these huge emotions,” agrees actor Emily Tomlinson. “Nothing is halfway. Nothing is casual. It’s all so big. All so completely committed and completely valid.”

Talevski and Tomlinson say that the ensemble aspect of the show — there are nine soccer players, all who share the spotlight equally — is one of the hardest, but most fulfilling, parts of the process.

“You’re not just worrying about yourself — not only do I know my lines, but I know eight other people’s lines,” says Talevski. “We are so interconnected. We are a unit. Everything is off kilter if one person is not present, and you have to move as one.”

“It’s so challenging,” says Tomlinson. “But it’s also this incredibly beautiful gift, especially for it to be all women. I’ve never had that experience before. The rehearsal process has been one of the most unique and really delicious experiences I’ve ever had.”

“It’s a great time to see nine amazing female characters on stage,” says Gold. “Like those war movies with young men, the play explores the team’s loss of innocence, when the bubble of protection bursts, but when they come together as a team for their cheer, ‘We are the Wolves,’ it’s a cathartic and hopeful moment, [and] we see that they find comfort and empowerment in each other.

“We see the way their close relationships can lift one another up, the kinds of bonds that last a lifetime.”



‘The Wolves’

WHEN — 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Saturday & Sunday, through March 24

WHERE — TheatreSquared, 505 W. Spring St. in Fayetteville

COST — $36-$47

INFO — 443-5600

Categories: Cover Story