“The Wolves” spotlights complex dynamics of girls’ athletics

Rehearsing and training for “The Wolves” by Sarah DeLappe (Sept. 26–28, Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts) has been an exercise in stamina and endurance for Cornell University senior Sabrina Liu. “Being in ‘The Wolves’ has pushed me out of my comfort zone not only in terms of the way that I normally act and perform, but also in terms of what my body can do physically,” Liu said.

Under the direction of Department of Performing and Media Arts (PMA) associate professor Beth F. Milles, Liu and the other eight Cornell undergraduate women portraying the high-school girls’ soccer team (Adara Alston ’99 rounds out the cast as soccer mom) have trained extensively both on stage and on the field. The Cornell Women’s Soccer team has served as a source of inspiration and support: the coaches and athletes have led the actors through practices, drills and games in preparation for their physically demanding performances. 

“The Wolves” is a high-energy, high-impact play that follows the teen soccer players through a series of practices and game warm-ups as they navigate their public and private lives, jockeying to find their positions on the team, in their social circles and as young people on the cusp of adulthood.

“There is something about this show that demands something so specific and precise out of both each individual actor and the entire ensemble as a whole,” Liu said. “The cast has been able to bond and cohere in ways that I’ve never experienced, and I think that Sarah DeLappe’s structure and writing really bring that forth naturally, almost out of necessity."

“The Wolves” explores issues of inclusion and exclusion, teamwork, acceptance and selectivity. Facing various challenges throughout the play, the teammates reveal the toughness of their characters and upend preconceived notions about girlhood and femininity.

Performances of “The Wolves” are Sept. 26, 27, and 28 at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee on Sept. 28 at 2 p.m. in the Schwartz Center’s Flex Theatre. Immediately following the matinee will be a talk-back, Q&A with the cast, and raffle drawing for Cornell University Athletics and PMA prizes. Tickets for all performances are $18 for adults and $12 for students, seniors and the Cornell community at schwartztickets.com or the Schwartz Center box office, 1–8 p.m., Monday–Saturday. The Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts is located at 430 College Ave. in Ithaca.

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