Let’s Kick It: The Wolves Feature

Sam Houston State University’s Department of Theatre and Musical Theatre presented “The Wolves” by Sarah DeLappe at the University Theatre Center.

This 95-minute play portrays the complex experience of nine high school girls in a club soccer team as they run, stretch and scrimmage their way through life’s biggest and smallest questions and difficulties of teenage life.

These 17-year-olds address issues such as periods, boys, genocide, abortion and everything in between in this high-intensity show.

Assistant Professor of Theatre and director Victoria Lantz was recommended this show by a colleague and ultimately chose this show due to her interest in female playwrights and plays driven by female characters.

“As we were sorting out the season and we weren’t sure if it was going to be particularly male heavy, I thought since we didn’t have many student directors that this is a really good show to do,” Lantz said. “All we need is them in uniforms. We don’t need anything else because it’s just their bodies moving onstage. It’s a really hard challenge for female performers, so that’s why it interested me and the playwright writes these young women in really compelling ways.”

This play reflects female-driven art and dedication off stage as well as on stage.This show’s cast, directors, stage manager and assistant stage manager, and lighting and sound designers are all female. Lantz believes this is an excellent and rare experience.

“I think one of the things people don’t realize in professional theatre, if you look at the statistics on Broadway, in 2015, only 12 percent of plays done on Broadway were written by women, and that is the same number as it was exactly 100 years ago in 1912,” Lantz said. “I had said how rare it is in the professional world, that it would be almost never, maybe one percent of productions, where you have plays written by women, produced by only women,with an all-female cast.”

Lantz says the hard work of these women over the semester-long rehearsal process has helped shape these characters into the dynamic, real people they were meant to be portrayed as.

“Teenage girls are often dismissed as not serious or interesting, but all the women in the cast are taking these women seriously, even the funny characters, and they’re genuine,” Lantz said. “They’ve done strong performances so the best part has been doing something that is rare with this all female production,backstage and onstage, and making teenage girls genuine, which I think doesn’t happen very often.”

Another element that is unique to this show is how incredibly physical it is. The first month of rehearsals focused on only training and movement work with the help of the SHSU’s Assistant Coach Ellie Davis who volunteered her and some of her player’s time.

“I love having outside people come in and help, so this time the SHSU women’s soccer coaches have been really generous,” Lantz said. “We had five soccer players and Coach Ellie Davis come two separate days just to focus on footwork. She really helped their body positions, what their hips are doing, and she kept reminding them that they’re doing really well and that her players don’t get to talk while they’re doing it. It’s really hard to talk and do this work. I’m not a soccer player, so I really needed someone who had that experience, and she was very generous with her time.”

The show’s assistant director and senior theatre major Michelle Sosa also pieced together and taught the dynamic stretching, running routines and the order of the training sessions. Lantz  gave Sosa the resources, then Sosa sought help from Assistant Dance Professor Kyle Craig-Bogard on how to safely teach the actors the moves. From auditions to the last day of rehearsals, Sosa has been in charge of creating and teaching the physical routines that the actors do on the ground or while walking.

Sosa is grateful for the opportunity to give insight to the show and be a part of the process.

“It’s been really fun,” Sosa said. “It’s interesting to be on the opposite side of the table, being able to see the different choices being made, what works, what doesn’t, and see it all come together with different processes. It’s been really great working with all these women.”

Lantz is equally thankful to have the extra help.

“Michelle is very good about watching, observing and offering commentary and it was really useful in particular when I had to go out of town and she was directing,” Lantz said. “I think that was good experience for her, but for me,it just gives me a second set of eyes. We’re often on the same page for the script and with the actors we have in the room, so any time she’s given notes,they’re very similar to mine. She has a keen eye for what’s happening and she really did lead all the physical work all the way through this process.”

Lantz says that adjusting to all the action and overlapping conversation will require a little time for the ear to adjust, but hopes the audience will appreciate the hard work and the show as a whole. 

“I really hope the people who see it really appreciate the amount of work that the team, the actors, have put into it because they really have gone full tilt,”Lantz said. “They’ve researched soccer, they’re doing the footwork, the physical work, and they’re trying to convey these complex characters. So, I hope they appreciate what they’re seeing, even if they can’t catch every conversation, that they really understand the piece as a whole physical sequence.”

Overall, both Lantz and Sosa view these characters as strong women with interesting stories to tell that will give the audience a break from stereotypes.

“I hope they take away the fact that teenage women are complicated, complex,powerful humans,” Lantz said. “They can’t be stereotyped and over simplified,which happens a lot to them. I hope they take away the sheer intensity and power of the women on stage, the work they’ve done, and take away that tragedy and humor mix together. Also that in facing a tragedy, you still have to recover and take the field even after traumatic events, and still have to be strong and fight. I think the overall metaphor relates to women in society. You have to be powerful, strong, and find a way to fight, but that’s really hard,and it’s not always what you want to do, and it’s not necessarily reflective of your personality, so I think complex 17-year-olds is what I want people to get out of it.”

Caroline Parks, Jocelyn Sirias, Monica Olivia, Sophia Clarke, Cara Fowler, Joan Alexander, Anissa Garza, Yasmyn Sumiyoshi, Ally Marion
photo by Gavin Michael Calais

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