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The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

Girlhood, growth and artificial grass: UWL Theatre and Dance presents “The Wolves”

Director+Mary+Trotter+organizes+the+cast+before+rehearsal.+Photo+taken+by+Ann+David.+
Director Mary Trotter organizes the cast before rehearsal. Photo taken by Ann David.

The next production in the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Theatre and Dance 2023-24 season is Sarah DeLappe’s “The Wolves”. 

Told from the perspective of nine 16- and 17-year-old members of a girls’ indoor soccer team, “The Wolves” centers around their experiences and stories as they warm up for their game. 

Performances are Dec. 1-2 and 7-9 at 7:30 p.m. with Sunday matinees Dec. 3 and 10 at 2:00 p.m. at Toland Theatre in the Truman Lowe Center for the Arts.  

The Racquet Press interviewed the play’s Director and Assistant Professor of Theatre and Dance, Mary Trotter, as well as several members of the all-female cast to learn more about “The Wolves”. 

“We see [the girls] warming up for their games, but we also see them talking about current affairs, wars, what it means to become a woman; just daily struggles they have in their lives, with each other, with their families, friends. All of those things are kind of interwoven together,” said Trotter.

The Wolves stretch before a game. Photo taken by Ann David.

She continued, “Over the six weeks that we see them, we look at what their objective is each week – what do they go into the week looking to accomplish? The group always has the same goal; they want to win the game. We also look at how their individual goal fits with the group goal.”

According to Trotter, the stage is set up to be an indoor soccer field complete with artificial turf on the ground and angling outwards. “It gives us a lot of room for movement and for play,” she said.

Toland Theatre becomes a soccer field. Photo taken by Ann David

Although the production centers around soccer, some cast members either hadn’t played soccer since high school or middle school or had never played at all. Different techniques were used to help the cast feel more comfortable handling a soccer ball on stage. 

“We had five or six practices set up with [Jason Murphy], the head coach of the [UWL Women’s Soccer team]. I’ve played soccer since I was three and it was good to get on a field again and get touches with the ball. I give all the girls so many props. Most of them had never played soccer before and they picked it right up,” said Third-year Student Taylor Rammer. 

“After a meeting we had early on in rehearsals, we went to one of the girls’ soccer team games as a cast. It was good to get together before rehearsals started,” said Rammer. 

Fourth-year Student Caitlin Elenteny spoke about one technique that made acting as a soccer player more comfortable.  

“We all got our own soccer balls to take home for the first month or two in advance [of rehearsals]. I remember one of the biggest things the coach said was to just always put the soccer ball at your feet, no matter what you’re doing. I would keep mine under my desk and I would just rest my feet on it when I was doing homework. That, I think, really got me comfortable with having the ball at my feet. 

Third-year Student Paige Verbsky had some athletic experience prior to stepping on the stage.

“I played soccer in middle school, and I played lots of volleyball throughout high school. In terms of coordination and understanding how to move my body in an athletic way, I had that basic knowledge,” she Verbsky.

According to Trotter, the dialogue in “The Wolves” frequently overlaps with different characters speaking in different circles and sometimes speaking over each other. 

“The characters and the dialogue are so interwoven that everybody has to be on the same page about what’s happening – you can’t hear everything at once,” said Trotter. “I think that’s true for other shows too, but not in this intense way. It’s all or nothing.”

Trotter said the dialogue between characters helps keep the show moving. “It moves very fast. It’s a lot of fun. The dialogue is written in a way that’s engaging the whole time. It’s not your typical play.”

Verbsky spoke about the challenges of having dialogue overlap and trying to decipher who is speaking to who. 

“It’s a lot of listening. It’s very conversational, so I try to think about it in terms of ‘Who am I talking to, who am I responding to, who am I listening to?’,” said Verbsky. “Once you’ve read it and rehearsed it a couple times, you kind of get into a rhythm to where it’s like music in a way. You train your ear to hear the different rhythms of speaking. I think it’s kind of interesting and challenging.”

Cast members also shared what they hope audiences will take away from “The Wolves”. 

“I think that anybody that comes to see this show will leave with a greater understanding that despite what age you are, you possess the same qualities. I’ve been telling everyone that you will come in laughing and bawling your eyes out by the end,” said Verbsky. 

“I’m excited to be able to share with everybody what we’ve been working on. For my family specifically, soccer was my life in middle school and high school. I’m excited for my family to see where my previous passion has now come into my passion now,” said Rammer. 

“This is a very natural feeling show and very contemporary. This isn’t like [“Dr. Faustus”] where the Devil’s coming to take you to hell. These are real girls who are going through real teenage problems and a real coming of age story,” said Rammer. 

“It’s not very often that we get to see strong female characters in relation to each other, and not set up in romantic relationships. This show is different because the team is nine girls that talk about…being human; it’s not all about being in love. It’s about figuring out what your passions are and how to follow them. I think that’s something that everyone can relate to,” said Trotter. 

“It’s a coming-of-age, girlhood story,” said Verbsky. 

“The Wolves” contains discussions of adult content, including sexual assault, genocide, disordered eating, death and substance abuse.

UWL Theatre and Dance present Sarah DeLappe’s “The Wolves”. Photo retrieved from uwlax.edu/theatrearts

If you attend:

Who: UWL Department of Theatre and Dance

What: The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe

Where: Toland Theatre, Lowe Center for the Arts (333 N. 16th Street, La Crosse)

When: Dec. 1-2 & 7-9 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 3 & 10 at 2:00 p.m.

Cost: $20 for adults; $18 for senior citizens/non-UWL students; $8 for UWL students. Assigned seating. Tickets may be purchased online at www.uwlax.edu/theatre-and-dance beginning October 1, 2023. In-person/phone reservations begin November 27 by calling 608-785-6696. Box office hours are Monday through Friday 1:00-3:00 p.m. and one hour prior to each performance. All tickets printed at the box office or held at will call will incur an additional fee. Patrons are encouraged to buy their tickets online and download the tickets to their phone/email. 

Cast: Emily Babcock, Caitlin Elenteny, Val Fish, Ellie Hemming, Tracie Hodgdon, Julia Maynard, Alyssa Meissner, Anna Montgomery, Taylor Rammer, Paige Verbsky

Production team: Mary Trotter (Director), Katie Krueger (Stage Manager), Jessica Miller (Scenic Designer), Joe Anderson (Costume & Makeup Designer), Brodyn Byington (Lighting Designer), Julia Milne (Sound Designer), Megan Morey (Technical Director), 

Mandy Kolbe (Props Designer), Anna Halvorsen (Dramaturg)

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About the Contributor
Ann David, Arts and Entertainment Reporter
  • Year at UWL: Junior
  • PGPs: She/Her/Hers
  • Hometown: Eau Claire, WI
  • Major: English: Medical Professions Emphasis
  • Minor: Biology; Music Performance
  • Other Campus Involvement: UWL Wind Ensemble and Orchestra Member
  • Future Plans after Graduation: Attending grad school in Minnesota
  • Favorite activity in La Crosse: Walking through the Rotary Lights at Riverside Park in the winter with friends.
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