Orange Slices, Soccer Balls and Death in Montclair State Performance of ‘The Wolves’

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Published March 4, 2020
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The Montclarion
Number seven, played by Lily Johns, gets into a fight with her best friend #14, played by Caitlyn Capre. Photo courtesy of Gennadi Novash

In a roller coaster of emotion, Montclair State University acting majors took the stage in Life Hall Studio 1200 to perform a play called “The Wolves,” directed by Susan Kerner.

This coming-of-age show is an intimate experience in which audience members grow with the characters in the form of a high school women’s soccer team. Each scene features the moments right before a game where the girls talk controversies, secrets, gossip and more as they warm up for their games.

The play was written by Sarah DeLappe and was produced for the first time in 2016.

“While I was writing it, I quickly began thinking of it as a war movie,” DeLappe said. “But instead of a bunch of men who are going into battle, you have a bunch of young women preparing for their soccer games.”

The show ran from Thursday, Feb. 27 until Sunday, March 1, with a total of five performances.

Jordyn David, #00, in The Wolves. Photo Courtesy to Lili Salt, Assistant Director.

A recent death has the girls devastated, including the goalie of The Wolves, #00, played by Jordyn David.
Photo courtesy of Lili Salt

Although the play includes relevant themes such as children being kept in cages, “The Wolves” includes a lot of comedic relief, which the actors pull off well. In this emotionally heavy show, they manage to smile and laugh even when tragedy strikes at the very end of the play.

There are many shows and movies where the woman’s end goal is to “get the guy;” This is not the case with “The Wolves.” Empowering is just one word of many to describe the show.

“We see women in a world that is not determined by men, ” Kerner said. “[We see them] define themselves as individuals.”

Jeanette Bednar, who plays the mother of one of the players, comes out to support the team after a recent death

Jeanette Bednar, who plays the mother of one of the players, comes out to support the team after a recent death.
Photo courtesy of Gennadi Novash

As a young woman, it is especially easy to feel connected to these characters and feel as a member of their team. The audience was meant to be a fly-on-the-wall, looking in on their private practices.

The set design of the show forced audience members to immerse themselves in the activity. A patch of a soccer field was placed in the middle of the room with rows of chairs facing each side and the audience, only a few feet away from the actors.

The lack of a spectacular set added to its authenticity. If there had been more added, it would have taken away from the experience. Kerner wanted to focus the attention directly on the actors to let the audience fully absorb what was happening on the field.

#25, the captain of The Wolves, played Maggie Mckeon, prepares the audience for while remaining in character

The captain of The Wolves #25, played by Maggie McKeon, prepares the audience while remaining in character.
Photo courtesy of Gennadi Novash

During the transitions between scenes, there was bold lighting and sound choices. The transitions were composed of brightly colored flashing lights and blasting pop music. Other than during the climax of the play, these transitions were consistent throughout the show.

Despite some emotional or depressing scenes, they still played the pump up music that athletes listen to when they are getting ready for a big game. This adds to the message of the play that no matter what is happening in the characters personal lives, they must go out and play the game.

The young women howl like actual wolves to get pumped for their next game

The young women howl like actual wolves to get pumped for their next game.
Photo courtesy of Gennadi Novash

This out-of-the-ordinary decision was an impactful one. I still have “Let’s Get Loud” by Jennifer Lopez stuck in my head.

What is truly excellent about this play is how well the actors crafted their dynamic roles. The audience was fully immersed in the show and the actors were fully immersed in their own characters. It certainly emphasized all of the emotion of the performance.

When they were happy and laughing, so was the audience. When they were depressed and bawling, so was the audience.

The Cast of The Wolves. Photo Courtesy of Lili Salt, Assistant Director

The Cast of Montclair State’s production of “The Wolves.”
Photo courtesy of Lili Salt

Nearly everyone in the audience was shedding a tear. This is not only thanks to DeLappe’s unbelievable playwriting ability, but also the result of the acting skills. It felt as if any one of the actors could be pulled off stage and she would still act as her character.

To make it more authentic, Kerner said the actors had a week and a half of “soccer bootcamp” from real soccer coaches, since they had to learn to play the game and act at the same time. They put in the full effort to make it feel like a genuine soccer team and it paid off.

After watching “The Wolves,” all I have to say is: Don’t underestimate the power of a young woman.

 

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