Sports and theater fans can expect the new play from the Lafayette Theater Department this weekend. ‘The Wolves’, which premiered last Thursday, explores the inner lives of female footballers.
“The Wolves” was written by Sarah DeLappe and directed by drama teacher Mary Jo Lodge. Through snippets of personal conversations, “The Wolves” gives audiences insight into the lives of teenage girls on a club soccer team as the members navigate interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships and a host of relevant issues, all while simultaneously pursuing their football careers.
The ensemble-led piece 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 stressed the importance of these discussions.
“Very often when teenage girls appear in popular culture, whether in plays, on TV or in movies, they are objects of affection or maybe mean girls, and very little else. “, Lodge said. “These characters are…citizens of the world, athletes, competitors, daughters and friends.”
Rebounding from a lack of theatrical productions during Covid-19 over the past two years, Lodge sought to provide an immersive experience that would remind audience members of the beauty of theater in person. Not only are the actors actively playing football in scenes throughout the show, but the entire theater now looks like an indoor football arena.
“It was interesting to watch the [theater] turn this closed, intimate space into an open football pitch,” said Lizzie Gumula ’22, Assistant Director, Stage Manager and EXCEL Fellow for Lodge.
In terms of production design, Gumula explained that the implementation of stadium songs and simplistic lighting reflect the show’s subtle moments.
Most of the cast had little football experience prior to the show. Therefore, apart from attending rehearsals, they also had separate practices twice a week to hone their football skills. To arrange these workouts, Lodge contacted athletic director Sherryta Freeman, who put her in touch with the trainer. Mick Stathamthe head coach of the Lafayette College women’s soccer program.
Statham was eager to help, noting that the athletic department tries to get involved with other aspects of the community whenever it can. He explained that his role was “to get the cast comfortable with a ball under their feet while doing lines simultaneously.”
“I was really impressed with the actors and their commitment to the play was admirable,” Statham said. “They took [soccer] really seriously and worked hard because they wanted it to be believable.
“Football is having a moment in world news and pop culture right now, and we’re a very small part of that,” Lodge said.
The entire cast and crew are also thrilled to perform in front of a live audience as Covid restrictions continue to lift.
Becca Wilts ’23, who plays #25, pointed out that without an audience, “you’re just playing, not playing.”
“When you have an audience, not only do you have the connections between the people on stage, but you also connect with the people in the audience,” Wilts said.
Even after the show ends, the cast and production crew hope to leave audiences with a sense of community and cooperation that impresses 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 enjoy the intersection between college theater and athletics, because we all need to support each other here in Lafayette.”
“We have such a large population of student-athletes on campus. People like The Wolves team are in Lafayette now and it’s a chance to see them in a way they may have never seen before for all their complexities and contradictions,” Lodge said.
Tickets for “The Wolves” can be purchased through the Williams Center website or by calling 610-330-5009. The play airs March 2-4 from 7:30-9 p.m. The show features explicit language and sensitive topics, so viewer discretion is advised.