Fierce, Fearless and Female: ‘The Wolves’ Brings Women’s Soccer, Raw Adolescence to River Campus Sept. 16-20 and 25-27

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The U.S. women’s soccer team captured global attention last summer when it brought home the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

Now, The Jeanine Larson Dobbins Conservatory of Theatre and Dance plans to build on that excitement when it performs “The Wolves” Sept. 16-20 and Sept. 25-27 at Southeast Missouri State University’s River Campus. Performances will be streamed online only due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and winner of the 2015 Relentless Award for Playwriting, “The Wolves” brings to life the story of a suburban girls’ indoor soccer team that navigates big questions and wages tiny battles with the vigor of a pack of adolescent warriors. The play debuted Off-Broadway in September 2016 with character names including #8, #14 and Soccer Mom. The dramatic comedy by young playwright Sarah DeLappe has been one of the most popular shows of the last 10 seasons in New York City and “is a portrait of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for nine American girls striving to win.

Director Roxanne Wellington called the show a “hot ticket.”

“Everywhere it’s ever been, it’s been sold out,” she said.

Dr. Kenn Stilson, chair of The Jeanine Larson Dobbins Conservatory of Theatre and Dance, said, “We all fell in love with women’s soccer over the past few years, and I’m sure women and men, from high school to adults, will love this show. We have extraordinarily talented women in this program, and this exciting production, directed by Professor Wellington, will showcase their skills as actors and athletes.”

In addition to realistic staging, the play has no intermission and lasts 90 minutes — the length of a professional soccer match. The setup, Wellington explained, offers audience members the rare chance to peer into another world.

It takes a few minutes to acclimate to the dialogue style, she said, because at any point in the show there may be overlapping conversations happening between girls at different ends of the field.

“That’s why this play was such a phenomenal hit,” Wellington said. “We never get a chance to see theatre told from this point of view where these young girls are talking about … everything from the personal to the political, from how they feel about worldview issues to how they feel about their period.”

Fans of the Conservatory will see two familiar faces in “The Wolves” when recent graduates Francesca Bucci and MacKenzie Hamilton return to the stage. After the show was canceled in the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wellington said it was important to her to offer the alumnae the chance to still perform.

“[Francesca], amongst everybody, was very disappointed when we couldn’t do it because they had worked so hard,” Wellington said of the cast, noting Bucci had been one of the earliest to suggest a production of “The Wolves” at Southeast.

The original cast had been attending weekly fitness and soccer training sessions that began in January to prepare the performers for their roles, Wellington said. Rehearsals began anew during the first week of the fall semester.

The 2020-2021 Top of the Marq and Commerce Bank Theatre and Dance series at Southeast will stream “The Wolves” at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 16-19 and 2 p.m. Sept. 19 and 20, as well as at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 25 and 26 and at 2 p.m. Sept. 26 and 27.

Tickets

Streaming shows are on sale now and can be purchased at showtix4u.com/event-details/39511. Tickets may also be purchased by contacting the River Campus Box Office, located in the Cultural Arts Center, 518 S. Fountain St., weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., by calling (573) 651-2265, or online at RiverCampus.org.

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