This week, Binghamton University’s theatre department whisked audiences away into the world of soccer with its first Mainstage production of the year, a take on Sarah DeLappe’s award-winning play “The Wolves.”
The show premiered on Friday, Oct. 17, and will be hosting a combination of evening and matinee performances through Oct. 27 in the Studio A Theater.
Directed by Anne Brady, a professor of theatre, “The Wolves” centers around a high school travel team of nine 16-year-old girls. Each scene takes place on the soccer turf while the girls warm up in preparation for Saturday practice or games, taking the time to stretch and discuss various topics including Cambodian dictator Pol Pot, college recruitment and the most recent gossip about members on the team. Characters are not given names, and are instead only referred to by the numbers on their jerseys.
The play premiered in 2016 and was originally performed off-Broadway. Despite its high school characters and unconventional setting, “The Wolves” has attracted many college actors at BU. Kirsten Whistle, a senior majoring in theatre who portrays #13 in the play, found that “The Wolves” combined many of her favorite things.
“I was really excited that the show combined two things I really love — being part of a team and acting,” she said. “I played soccer in high school and was excited to experience what soccer onstage would be like.”
Christine Skorupa, a senior majoring in theatre who plays the role of #25, said “The Wolves” was one of her favorite contemporary plays that she has read so far.
“I auditioned for ‘The Wolves’ because I read the play over the summer and knew it was special … I saw myself and my high school experience in so many of the characters,” she said.
The University’s Mainstage production has impressively transformed the dark space of Studio A into an indoor soccer facility, complete with turf that covers the floor, risers for the audience to sit on and bright lights that mimic that of soccer field lamps. Though the set is thoroughly convincing of a soccer play, the characters also had to make sure they acted the part. Skorupa noted that familiarizing herself with the role of captain was a new experience.
“Preparing for this show was the most unique process I have ever participated in,” she said. “Doing soccer drills for about half of the time we were rehearsing or learning lines is something completely new to me. I haven’t seriously participated in sports before this show, so … A captain’s job was also a huge learning experience for me.”
In addition to learning difficult soccer drills, the characters also had their own individual struggles and story lines which the actors had to take on. With such a variety of personalities in the show, teamwork was an incredibly important skill for the actors, according to Whistle.
“Being in this show has reminded me of what it was like to be on a team,” she said. “That is what me and the actors in this show have become. I think that is my favorite part about it all.”
“The Wolves” has a much smaller cast and set than most Mainstage productions, but that doesn’t mean that it fails to pack a punch. Skorupa said it has something for everyone.
“Sports, theatre, contemporary issues, complex relationships, oranges, everything you can imagine in a nonstop, 90-minute marathon,” she said. “It will open your heart and I think anyone in the audience can find something they enjoy in this production.”
Lauren Metzdorff, stage manager for “The Wolves” and a sophomore majoring in English, said the show also has value that can be taken outside the theatre.
“A lot of shows about teenagers are full of cliches and aren’t relatable to the audiences,” she said. “The characters in this show feel like … people I could have gone to high school with instead of the caricatures I typically see onscreen. It’s a refreshing look [into] what it’s like to be a teenager that I wish I saw when I was a junior, like these characters are. I think everyone can benefit from seeing what it’s like to be a teen girl in the 2010s.”
“The Wolves” will be performed at 8 p.m. on Oct. 17, 18, 19, 23, 24, 25 and 26 and at 3 p.m. on Oct. 19, 26 and 27 in Studio A Theater in the Fine Arts Building. Tickets are $10 for students and $20 for adults, with limited seating available.