Learning to play soccer, decorating water bottles and “team dinners” at Peirce Dining Hall: the rehearsal process of Kenyon College Drama Club’s production of The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe has been unconventional. This unique format reflects a show that is far from the typical sports narrative.
DeLappe’s The Wolves portrays the nine members of a girls’ soccer team who are referenced only by their jersey numbers. The play follows these girls as they warm up for soccer games together and tackle every subject from the Khmer Rouge to pimples. Directed by Associate Professor of Drama and Film Ben Viccellio, the performance stars Helen Carter ’20, Ally Merkel ’20, Nina Samaan ’20, Samara Handelsman ’21, Mollie Greenberg ’19, Meredith Awalt ’19, Olivia Marr ’20, Olivia Lindsay ’19 and Emily Blanquera ’20.
“We’re all very close,” Carter, who plays No. 46, said of The Wolves’ cast. “We meet to run lines together a lot. We need to really rely on each other and help each other out.”
The Wolves premiered in 2016 and was Delappe’s debut. The play made waves in the theater community and eventually became a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize. It’s an unconventional show in many ways, especially with its all-female cast. Although there are nine characters, each one is distinct and important to the play — there is no single main character. Watching the play feels like watching teenage girls interact: characters talk over one another; use “um,” “uh” and “like” frequently; and struggle to effectively articulate their thoughts and feelings to one another.
The characters in the show don’t just talk about soccer; they often actually use soccer balls onstage. Carter said that she played soccer before the show, “but not to the extent to which the script demanded.” In one scene, Carter’s character has to recite a chant while juggling a soccer ball. To prepare for this, Carter practiced juggling a soccer ball almost every day for the past month and a half.
Carter believes The Wolves is an important show because “it’s centered around teenage girls and their problems, which I think a lot of the world sees as trivial.” In The Wolves, teenage girls face the trials of growing up as they discuss fitting in, their families and sex, while making the issues seem about as far from trivial as they could get.
“I think it’s important that something like this is onstage and brought to a medium where it can take these seemingly trivial struggles and make them really high-stakes and real,” Carter said.
Carter explained that The Wolves taps into “a universal struggle of needing to fit in and needing to belong and wanting to be liked and wanting to be a part of something.” Personal and passionate, The Wolves drives home the power of teamwork, self-reliance and girlhood. This performance is one-of-a-kind — make it your goal to see it this weekend.
The Wolves will run Oct. 18, 19 and 20 in the Bolton Theater.