The Connecticut Repertory Theatre’s latest production, “The Wolves,” is a play about more than just soccer. It is a nuanced examination into the lives of young women through the bonds they form and the passions they possess. With focus placed squarely on character over story, first-time playwright Sarah DeLappe’s dialogue presents one of the truest, most well-realized portrayals of adolescents I have seen.
For many of the cast members, this performance marks their acting debut with CRT. Sophomore actresses Jamie Feidner, Eliza Carson and Megan O’Connor all commented on the challenges they faced adjusting to the rigorous six-day rehearsal schedule. For senior Eilis Garcia, her role as #00 (the goalie) came with its own difficulties. Unlike the rest of the cast, Garcia’s character has very few lines, yet she was able to use her experience and creativity to craft a well-rounded characterization.
“I based a lot of the characteristics and my personality as the character on movement. Julie and I worked on time out to create a movement pattern that we felt reflected her anxiety in an accurate way while also gesturing to the athleticism that she has and the intensity,” Garcia explained.
Despite the difficulties, the cast took their challenges in stride, delivering powerful performances that would rival even a veteran actress and proving that each and every one of them has the potential for a promising career. In preparing for their roles, the actresses were able to draw connections to experiences in their own lives.
For the sophomores in the cast, their closeness in age to their characters made it easy to relate. O’Connor said, “I was in high school two years ago, and as I was reading the play I found so many moments from the play that were similar to experiences I had with my friends and even just within my friend group from theatre back in high school. Taking those memories from high school and applying [them] to certain moments in the text is really helpful for me for the emotional recall.”
According to Carson, each actress was perfectly cast in their roles, matching many of the personality traits of the characters in real life. Garcia was familiar with the struggles of her character in taking on a formidable amount of work, saying, “I was really stacked up in high school, like she is. It was really a personal thing, just taking a lot of inspiration from myself to help with the characterization of 00.” Many of the actresses have real experience playing soccer in high school as well, even director Julie Foh. Still, despite some of the benefits that come from having such close similarities, this can also cause some added difficulty in crafting a performance.
As Carson said, “Looking at Number 8, I’m a lot like her, but as an actor, sometimes … those are actually some of the hardest characters to play: People who are just like you… You’re finding more specific differences.”
One of the strongest aspects of the play is its focus on women as three-dimensional, well-rounded individuals. One of the first things viewers will notice is that the entire cast is female, an incredibly rare decision in entertainment, but one that pays off beautifully. With a culture that often relegates women to side roles or love-interests, it is a breath of fresh air to have an ensemble of leading women allowed to express depth of character and emotion in a private atmosphere. Foh described the events portrayed on stage as “life that happens behind closed doors. They’re in a group, they’re with each other, but no one else in their life gets to be witness to these moments.”
Fiedner elaborated on the power of this creative decision, saying, “I think it’s important that it’s young women that are not talking about boys or surface level things. It’s about real life and real things. They’re talking about genocide. They’re talking about death… Julie, the director, describes it as a ‘war play.’ It’s about grief and death and camaraderie and how to recover afterwards.”
This show is not only entertaining, perfectly-acted, perfectly-directed and perfectly-written. It is also an important show. Many creators spend their entire careers attempting to make something of true value and importance with no success, but this is not the case here. Critics have widely praised this play, further evidenced by its 2017 nomination for the Pulitzer Prize, one of the most prestigious honors in all of literature. No matter who you are, this play will be able to speak to you with its universal messages.
As Foh excellently put it, “In a way, it could be [about] anything. They could be highschoolers who are really into yearbook or into model UN. It’s the fact that they have dreams and they have really high aspirations in this area that interested me as well.”
You will be doing yourself a great disservice if you do not see this show. Whether or not you are a fan of theatre, this is guaranteed to be a choice you will not regret. “The Wolves” will be running in the Studio Theatre in the Drama Building until Sunday, Nov. 3. Please support CRT and all of the incredible work they are doing.
Evan Burns is campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.