The Wolves Ensemble
The Wolves ensemble. Credit: Facebook / All The Hats Productions

A pack of young wolves have a den at the Palmerston Library Theatre in Toronto. And, for five nights, these teenaged wolves will shock and entertain audiences as their distinct inner characters confront external challenges.

The Wolves, by Sarah DeLappe, is about nine all-American, suburban, sixteen-year-old high school soccer players. These fierce, fearless females kibitz, fight and grow—or not—during six weeks of pregame practices.

This pack of wolves has a well-established hierarchy that is put to the test when a new lone wolf, known simply as player #46, joins the team. There are also ongoing challenges from rival packs.

Despite internal fighting for alpha status; fighting a common enemy; and fighting other teams; the pack is also, at times, loving and supportive of each other.

The first scene drops viewers right into the thick of things. Two divergent conversations take place on stage. One focuses on the Khmer Rouge while the other determines the best menstrual product to use. These polar opposites showcase what it’s like to navigate all the elements of being a young woman including current events, periods, learning to drive, and navigating grief as a team. The question is, will these discussions bring them closer together or will their complex personalities break them apart?

Wearing identical soccer uniforms and being referred to, almost exclusively, by their team numbers, these young women’s conversations differentiate the stages of development each player inhabits and how that has been influenced by family, culture, and up bringing.

Lucy Sanci plays the team captain, #25. According to Sanci, “We don’t see girls as girls together on the stage a lot. And, so she [Sarah DeLappe] wrote this show to help show what that’s like.”

Referring to #46, Sanci says you see how this group of girls, who have been playing together their whole lives, have to reconfigure the undercurrents of their well-established relationships.

Sanci went on to say, “They say in theatre that when you’re doing a show it’s not about ordinary lives, it’s about extraordinary. Why this play? Why this moment? Why this day? And, for this team it’s about this new girl, #46. Why has this new girl entered and joined the team? And, what that does to the whole dynamic of the team?”

Director Carmen Osahor describes the play as a complex meeting of personalities as these girls enter adulthood. She says, “They are sort of right in that formative time of their life figuring out who they are going to be in the world and as a team as well. So, it’s certainly a growing-up play.”

Osahor was drawn to the play because it asks questions about how we live in community with one another. And, these young women don’t hold back their honesty, impulsivity, and more often than not, their language.

Referring to #25, Osahor says, “She keeps the team afloat, but she goes through an arch or development over the course of the show. Finding a place of more freedom to be herself.”

Cast members perform routine soccer skills and drills nightly on their indoor AstroTurf field. Sanci remembers playing soccer as a six-year-old. She says, “I think every parent is trying to enroll their kid into something. So, I’m by no means a soccer player but we do have some actors in the troupe who either played heavily or they’re still playing.”

Audiences are privy to discussions about heavy topics that elicit a wide range of opinions. Sanci describes the script as, “A sort of score because it is so specific, unforgiving and brilliant that it’s wonderful to watch. And, even though it might not be super crazy on stage, it’s interesting because you are hearing all these conversations and the characters have depth, tackle hard conversations, and personal relationships and there is drama that builds.”

During the 90-minute, six-scene play, tension builds as The Wolves move closer to a college showcase where a scout will be recruiting players. It climaxes in an unexpected event.

Even if you’re not a woman, this play will impact you because as Sanci puts it, “Everyone has experienced loss before and you see how the players react and that is a universal thing that people can connect to.”

A lone soccer mom is the only other character that makes a brief appearance closer to the end of the play.

Audiences should be prepared to have their hearts tugged by this beautifully connected ensemble who will leave them with a real sense of something that they have all been craving since the onset of the pandemic—connectedness!

“Even if you’re not a soccer player, everyone knows what it’s like to be 16 or 17 and wanting, dreaming, and fighting for something. And, you want these girls to win,” says Sanci.

The Wolves, DeLappe’s first professional production, was a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It’s also the premier production for All the Hats Productions. The company has the unique mandate of creating opportunities for emerging theatre artists of marginalized genders. They are about giving stage to stories and voices that don’t usually get the stage. The fact that the play-write, director and all of the actors are woman identifying making this a one-of-a-kind experience.

The Wolves runs from April 6-10 at the Palmerston Library Theatre. Tickets are $15 and available on Eventbrite.

Best suited for 16-year-olds and over due to heavy language; swearing; and mature themes—although, there are no graphic scenes and high school teachers will tell you they hear that kind of swearing every day in the halls from students.

A mask mandate is in place and audience members must also show proof of having received two vaccine doses.

Doreen Nicoll

Doreen Nicoll is weary of the perpetual misinformation and skewed facts that continue to concentrate wealth, power and decision making in the hands of a few to the detriment of the many. As a freelance...