A photo from the media night performance of “The Wolves.” (Rachael Beardsley/WOUB)

OU Theater Division Opens Season With “The Wolves”

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Ohio University Theater Division’s first show of the year merges fine arts and athletics both on and off stage in a production that candidly showcases the struggles and successes of young women on the soccer field.

The Wolves, a play by Sarah DeLappe, follows a high school girls soccer team through daily stretches and warm-ups, revealing their relationships and conversations before each game. Candid dialogue, timely discussions and heart-wrenching events combine to create a show that speaks to the reality of life as a teenage girl.

But one of the most remarkable aspects of the production took place off-stage. Actors had to learn soccer skills to make the show a reality, and Ohio University’s women’s soccer team was integral to the process.

“We have received so much wonderful support for the show from the women’s soccer team,” said Alayna McCabe, who plays player number seven. “I’ve never seen this kind of support between athletics and the arts; it’s truly inspiring. The entire team reserved 30 tickets for our opening night.”

McCabe said some of the cast began training over the summer, and they quickly realized the production would be a challenge.

(Rachael Beardsley/WOUB)

“The discipline required for sports and acting are very similar in that we both go through rigorous training to prepare, but sports is physical, and acting is mental and emotional,” she said. “So, needless to say, all of us were exhausted by the end of our four-hour rehearsal.”

Director David Haugen said it was a unique challenge for the actors to learn how to pass a ball with their feet while staying in character and speaking lines, yet they were able to master the skills quickly.

“They’ve just been fearless,” Haugen said. “I think it’s been my favorite thing about the show. It’s been really fun to have that energy from athletics come into the building.”

The cast harnesses that energy well, performing with all of the emotion and energy that one would expect from a group of high school girls who are passionate about their sport. From their stretch circle, the girls chatter amongst themselves, stumbling onto serious topics that often became divisive, but eventually bring them together. Though they often gossiped, they also wove in discussions about racism, anxiety and the tragedy that hits their team in the final scenes. The conversations are authentic, true to the way adolescents grapple with serious issues.

Haugen says the play’s realistic portrayal of young girls is what makes the show special.

(Rachael Beardsley/WOUB)

“It’s their story, and you don’t see that often,” he said. “And it’s not about them being girlfriends or daughters, it’s about them as a group and going from adolescence and getting ready to go into adulthood. It’s a coming of age story.”

McCabe said the depth of emotion shown through the characters is both moving and empowering.

“This show is so important for young women,” she said. “We are seeing an uprise in entertainment recognizing teen girls for the human beings that they are, which is so important, especially in this political climate. I feel lucky to be a part that.”

The Wolves will be performed October 4-6 and 9-13 at 8 p.m. at The Forum Theater in RTV. Tickets are free for OU students and $7 for all other students and seniors. General admission tickets are $10.