Zoom in on a suburban girls indoor soccer team, navigating difficult conversations through the lens of being a teenage girl. The Wolves is a modern take on the adolescent coming-of-age experience, showing just how much young people care about world issues and the obstacles they face day to day.
Actors’ Theatre Grand Rapids has put together an all-woman cast and crew for The Wolves this month, and Director Shelly Urbane is excited to present this newer play to the community.
“They talk about anything from genocide to tampons,” Urbane said about the soccer team. “We can talk about anything in the comfort of women, and we hold each other up. And sometimes, we knock each other down. But we figure it out and that’s what we see these girls doing.”
The soccer players range from 16-17 years old, in the prime of high school.
“(They’re) warming up for their game, and warming up for life,” Urbane said.
The conversations the girls have show that they talk about deeper topics than just boys or drama, which media have historically presented as the teen girl stereotype.
“We have seen more and more that our young people are our saving grace,” Urbane said. “Especially our young women who are willing to be the activists that we need them to be. And they’re willing to step up and celebrate feminism and let their voices be heard.”
One actress, Alexus Voss, who plays #14, was reminded of her own high school experience, spending four years on a volleyball team.
“The whole time (during rehearsals) I’m thinking, yup, we did this every day,” Voss said. “That’s very real, all the issues that we talk about, and how you interact with everybody. It kind of seems like a space where you can be more and do more, because everybody’s with you on that. We’re all in the same boat. It’s kind of freeing. You just get to be you, with girls who are also going to be them.”
As the actresses learn how their characters connect, they in turn have formed a bond of their own, becoming their own kind of team.
“I feel like we have that team mentality already,” Voss said.
The team especially bonded when they did a physical bootcamp. Even though they’re acting, they’re still playing athletes and they have to be able to move around the stage a lot during the show.
“When we were all at the boot camp, we were like, ‘come on, come on, come on!’” Voss said. “Boosting each other up. We always do high fives and we’ll do huddles at the end of rehearsal. It really does feel like (a team).”
Another unique aspect of the show is that it is all female-driven, including an all-woman cast and crew, with the exception of sound by Executive Director Kyle Los.
“Usually, in theater, females are fighting for the roles,” said Meaghan Gietzen, who plays player #13.
And as the women connect to their characters and each other, hopefully so will every woman in the audience when they see the show.
“People want to hear stories like this,” said Emily Rice Smith, who plays player #46. “Women especially want to see themselves onstage. … I think people want to see more honesty between women, and also conversations where people can feel like it’s something they can step into and say, ‘Yeah, I’ve felt that way before.’”