Chanting, warm-ups, pep-talks, stretching and lots of soccer balls. No, this isn’t the Pomona-Pitzer or Claremont-Mudd-Scripps soccer squads — it’s “The Wolves,” the high school girls’ soccer team featured in the Claremont Colleges’ most recent play.
Put on by the 5C student-run theater company The Green Room, “The Wolves” premiered Nov. 7 and was performed for four nights.
Like most productions from The Green Room, “The Wolves” was shown in the Seaver Theatre Large Studio at Pomona College. But unlike many previous productions, the play transformed the stage into a truly green room — the stage mimicked a grassy turf field, and each scene took place during the practices of the high school girls’ soccer team, also known as The Wolves.
Furthermore, unlike most theater shows, both the cast and crew of “The Wolves” were all women.
Stage manager Claire Van Note PO ’22 explained that although they’re only seen interacting on the soccer field, the characters’ dialogue still provides the audience with a clear glimpse into the lives of high school girls. With topics ranging from politics and gossip to body image and abortion, “The Wolves” displays all facets of these players’ lives, however big or small.
“I think [the play] is very reminiscent of those days growing up, [where] conversations go from genocides in the Middle East to what party is happening that weekend,” Van Note said. “It’s really amazing to see a window into young girls’ minds that … we don’t see in popular culture [very often].”
Actor Hava Sprung PZ ’23, who played the character #7, explained that although the play is about high schoolers, “The Wolves” can still feel relevant to 5C students.
“We’re not that far away from 16,” she said. “Even in college, you have to figure out who you are socially, figure out who you are with your friends and figure out how to craft your own independent identity.”
When writing “The Wolves,” playwright Sarah DeLappe had the distinct goal to display females as multi-dimensional, complex characters. While pop culture can depict women as only being a certain pre-destined archetype — the brain, the beauty, the funny friend — DeLappe sought to make her characters well-rounded, calling them “an amalgamation of all of the teenage girls I’ve known, loved, hated and admired” in an interview with theater website ONSTAGE+.
Cast member Ella de Castro SC ’23, who played the role of #2, particularly enjoyed this realistic aspect of “The Wolves,” believing it made the play relatable to members of the audience.
“I think of ‘The Wolves’ as one person with many different parts of their personality,” she said. “[In this way], I think that all of the characters are relatable to everyone, because [they represent] different parts of the self and how those parts work together and also how other parts do not.”
Many of the play’s cast members appreciated that the play was led by a student, Isabella Waldron SC ’20. There can often be a gap of experience and communication between director and cast in faculty-led productions, so having someone like Waldron in charge created a more open and collaborative environment throughout the production process, cast members said.
Sienna Ross PZ ’22, who played the role of “Soccer Mom,” said Waldron helped foster actors’ creativity and eliminated a fear of failure that was present in other shows in which she had participated.
“In faculty shows … there [is] a lot more pressure to get it right on the first try,” Ross said. “What I really liked about Isabella is that she’d often say, ‘just play with that,’ or ‘try something else today.’ There’s a lot more freedom to experiment.”
Along with moments of laughter and lightness, “The Wolves” also deals with intense and sensitive issues like grief, isolation, body image, bullying and the struggle to find one’s identity. Because of this, “The Wolves” requires a space where cast members can feel comfortable being vulnerable.
De Castro believes the student-run nature of this production particularly lent itself to a play like “The Wolves.” Because the director, crew and cast members worked so intimately with one another, they were able to develop a supportive and open rehearsal space.
From the many hours rehearsing together to the walks home, bonding among cast members “just kind of happened naturally,” she said.