A theater transformed into a soccer field: Newest theater production ‘The Wolves’ runs this weekend

The+Wolves+offers+a+look+into+the+lives+of+teenage+girls+on+a+club+soccer+team.+%28Photo+by+Adam+Atkinson+for+Lafayette+College%29

‘The Wolves’ offers a look into the lives of teenage girls on a club soccer team. (Photo by Adam Atkinson for Lafayette College)

Olivia Puzio, Contributing Writer

Sports and theater fans alike can look forward to the Lafayette theater department’s newest play this weekend. “The Wolves,” which premiered this past Thursday, explores the inner lives of female soccer players.

“The Wolves” was written by Sarah DeLappe and directed by Theater Professor Mary Jo Lodge. Through snippets of personal conversations, “The Wolves” gives the audience a glimpse into the lives of teenage girls on a club soccer team as the members navigate inter- and intrapersonal relationships and a multitude of relevant issues, all while simultaneously pursuing their soccer careers.

The ensemble-driven play exclusively features female characters who are identified by their jersey numbers instead of their names. The girls discuss a myriad of topics throughout the show including religion, world events, relationships and menstrual products. Lodge emphasized the importance of these discussions.

“So often when teenage girls appear in popular culture, either in plays, TV or movies, they are the objects of affection or maybe the mean girls, and very little else,” Lodge said. “These characters are…citizens of the world, athletes, competitors, daughters and friends.”

Bouncing back from a lack of theater productions during Covid-19 over the last two years, Lodge sought to provide an immersive experience that would remind audience members of the beauty of in-person theater. Not only is the cast actively playing soccer in scenes throughout the show, but the entire theater now looks like an indoor soccer arena.

“It has been interesting watching the [theater] transform from this closed-in and intimate space to an open soccer field,” Lizzie Gumula ’22, assistant director, stage manager and an EXCEL scholar for Lodge, said.

In terms of production design, Gumula explained that the implementation of stadium songs and simplistic lighting is reflective of the subtle moments in the show.

Most of the cast had little experience playing soccer prior to the show. Therefore, in addition to attending rehearsals, they also had separate practices twice a week to hone their soccer skills. To organize these practices, Lodge reached out to Athletic Director Sherryta Freeman, who connected her with Coach Mick Statham, the head coach of the Lafayette College women’s soccer program.

Statham was eager to help, emphasizing that the athletics department tries to get involved with other aspects of the community whenever they can. He explained that his role was “to make the cast comfortable with a ball under their feet while doing lines simultaneously.”

“I’ve been really impressed with the actors and their commitment to the play has been admirable,” Statham said. “They took [soccer] really seriously and worked hard because they wanted it to be believable.”

“Soccer is having a moment right now in world news and pop culture, and we get to be a tiny little part of that,” Lodge said.

The entire cast and crew are also ecstatic to be performing to a live audience as Covid restrictions continue to lift.

Becca Wilts ’23, who plays #25, stressed that without an audience, “you’re just acting, not performing.”

“When you have an audience, not only do you have the connections between the people on stage but you also establish connections with the people in the audience,” Wilts said.

Even after the show is over, the cast and crew of the production hope to leave the audience with a sense of community and cooperation that makes an impression on the Lafayette campus.

“We are definitely testing the boundaries of what theater is by expanding it into other departments,” Gumula said. “I hope people appreciate the intersection between college theater and athletics because we all need to support each other here at Lafayette.”

“We have such a big student-athlete population on campus. People like The Wolves team are at Lafayette now and this is a chance to see them in a way that maybe they haven’t been seen before for all their complexities and contradictions,” Lodge said.

Tickets for “The Wolves” can be purchased on the Williams Center website or by calling 610-330-5009. The play is showing March 2-4 from 7:30-9 p.m. The show features explicit language and sensitive topics, so viewer discretion is advised.