‘The Wolves’ captures essence of teenage hardships


Photo courtesy of Maisie James

THE WOLVES – NMU’s most recent production highlights the intricate struggles of teenage girls on a soccer team through their locker room conversations.

Hannah Jenkins, Contributing writer

From Feb. 18 to 26, NMU’s Theatre and Dance department put on a unique production of “The Wolves.” Written by Sarah DeLappe, this play highlights the ups and downs of female teenage life by exploring topics that range from personal and serious to humorous and lighthearted. Each scene takes the format of overlapping conversations held by the members of a high school level girls’ soccer team during their pregame warmups.

Keli Crawford-Truckey, guest director, adjunct professor and head of props, explained these conversations as, “this mix of the kind of banter that you would expect to find in a group of 16, 17-year-old girls. Some of it kind of crass and base and then all of a sudden, very thoughtful and politically-driven.”  

For Crawford-Truckey, the play highlights themes such as belonging, individuality and a sense of worth within a peer group that are critical to teenagers. The script is also unique in that it is formatted differently from most others. Some sections of the play feature three columns of dialogue to realistically depict multiple conversations happening at the same time.

“My favorite part has been the energy and the youthful take that these characters demand and require,” Crawford-Truckey said. “The most challenging part has definitely been guiding non-athlete actors to develop the physical awareness and stamina of an actual athlete.”  

For an actual athlete such as Emma Wetzel, freshman lacrosse player and art and design major, playing an athlete on stage was an interesting comparison to being a college athlete. 

“It would be cool because I would come straight from practice and I’d be like, ‘Oh my gosh, we were just having a conversation just like that at practice,'” Wetzel said. “I also had to be a different version of myself, because my character is a little bit different from me as a person at home.”  

Wetzel played #7 in “The Wolves” which was her first NMU play and the first one she’s performed in since early high school.  

“I think it was really special to come back and do a play because it’s been so long for me,” Wetzel said. “The most difficult part about doing this play was I was running from lacrosse practice every single day,” Wetzel said. “I was almost late every single night to practice and I was almost late to the show tonight because I had my first lacrosse game ever.”  

Wetzel said her favorite part was getting to play the “mean girl” on the team.

“I think that was very fun to just be one of the mean girls in high school that I was afraid of.”  

Similarly, she said that her favorite scenes were any of the ones in which her character had a confrontation with someone.  When asked how she felt about her opening night performance, Wetzel said, “I think that coming straight from a game gave me a lot of energy coming into it. As in I was super pumped and happy with how my team played, so I came here in a really good mood.”

Kyra Skinner, a junior with a double major in psychology and dance, made her non-musical acting debut in “The Wolves” as #2. 

Skinner said she will take with her the experience of having to learn her lines unusually quickly after joining the rehearsal process late, as well as the way her castmates played their unique characters.  

“My favorite part is learning everyone’s different stories and how they’re telling them,” said Skinner. 

Emotionally raw and realistic scenes such as when she and her teammates goof around while eating orange slices have made particular impressions on her.

“I don’t even really like oranges,” Skinner said.  “But I think that was probably the most fun to do because we had to get it a certain way, but still make it seem completely just undirected and real.”

For Zoë Hajec, a freshman majoring in Musical Theater who plays #00, the most difficult scene for her was a highly emotional solo scene. 

“I had one-on-one rehearsals with my director for that one scene where I’m throwing the ball,” she said. “One of the rehearsals was just blocking out ‘okay, what are you thinking while this is happening,’ because there’s no dialogue.”  

The complicated yet simplistic nature of the play was a powerful experience for Hajec to be a part of. She said she will take away the friendships between her and her castmates along with the close bond she felt with her character.

“This is the most emotionally challenging show that I’ve ever been in,” Hajac said. “There have been similar shows … but this show, in particular, is about how everyone is going through something different at different times and you never really know someone’s full story.”