New UI play marries soccer with womanhood, growing up

All female cast shows what it means to be a “woman warrior” in a production about soccer, persistence, and the struggles of growing up as a girl.

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New UI play marries soccer with womanhood, growing up

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Haley Triem, Arts Reporter

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Girls sprint across the turf, knees kicking up in sync, ponytails flying, breath strained.

The group reaches the edge of the field and quickly shifts to another exercise, all the while keeping both their intensive dialogue and a soccer ball in check.

This isn’t soccer practice, though. This isn’t a game. This is an act, a theater production with a crowd of silent people watching and bright spotlights beaming down on actresses as they act out what it means to be an athlete and a young woman in this day and age.

Last weekend, The Wolves premiéred in the Theater Building, and the production will show again today, Friday, and Saturday at 8 p.m.

It certainly wasn’t easy for the actresses to reach this point of performance, however. Mary Beth Easley, director of The Wolves, said half of the process was about being athletic and knowing how to handle a ball.

“We started right after Thanksgiving break in those two weeks before finals and spent most of that time learning soccer drills,” she said. “Then we sent them off for winter break, where they had to memorize their lines and keep up an intensive training schedule. They arrived one week before school resumed, and we spent six hours each day rehearsing.”

It’s rewarding to do a play about young women warriors who are amazing but also deal with peer pressure and insecurities.”

— Mary Beth Easley, director of The Wolves

Dramaturge and soccer coach Morgan Grambo said The Wolves is a physically challenging play. The actresses worked with a woman who had played high-school soccer — just like the girls they were portraying on stage.

“If you’ve ever tried having a conversation while on a run with someone, imagine that level of breath support required for nearly a whole play,” Grambo said. “Additionally, the actors play young women who are incredibly skilled athletes, so on top of making sure that everyone was comfortable with a soccer ball at their feet, we had to teach them how to have something that is actually quite hard look easy.”

The play, while viewed through the lens of soccer, hits much deeper topics, such as death, eating disorders, and the pressure that comes with growing up.

“It’s rewarding to do a play about young women warriors who are amazing but also deal with peer pressure and insecurities. [The Wolves is] athletic, moves forward, and celebrates young women and the female spirit,” Easley said.

The all-female cast rose to the challenge, exemplifying what it means to find power as a woman.

“Our rehearsal room was an all-women space and that felt so right for this show,” Grambo said. “I think that the actors that perform in The Wolves are an exceptional group of young women. They bring such life to each of their characters and create a nuanced, enjoyable performance.”


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