The Wolves challenges stereotypes of women in sports

Production presents nuanced, feminist performances

The cast of The Wolves.
Credit: 
Dan School of Drama and Music's Facebook

The Wolves is a sensitive, relatable invitation for every woman to see themselves on stage.

Dedicated to the late Queen’s Professor Kim Renders, who passed away last summer, Sarah DeLappe’s The Wolves is a feminist critique of women’s representation in sports and on stage. The show’s a brutally honest depiction of a teenage girls’ soccer team struggling in the face of pressure, insecurities and loss.

The play is set inside an indoor soccer facility, and smoke drifts across the stage as players warm-up before taking to the field. The audience seating surrounds the onstage soccer field, asking the attendees to spectate from the bleachers, immersing them in the play’s world.

The athletic context lends itself to unpacking the stereotypes women face when leaving stereotypically feminine spaces.

Assistant Director Alisha Grech told The Journal that even in 2019 women feel like they can’t present themselves as athletes, for fear of appearing “less feminine.”

The Wolves takes a step outside of these stereotypes of women as the ‘nice girl’ or the ‘pretty girl,’ and presents women as people who are angry, messy, and sometimes very mean but 100 per cent themselves.” Grech said. “Women’s sports are as important as men’s sports because they’re doing the same thing.”

These full-fledged characters reveal themselves in the cast’s dynamic conversations, exploring the realities of femininity and athletics. For instance, the play begins with the players joking about their anxieties and menstruation, including borrowing pads and tampons from their friends.

The conversations overlap with each other, leaving viewers with different theatrical experiences depending on where they’re seated. Conversations take on alternate meanings and different sides to the stories are revealed through each member’s individual script.

The script also omits key details in the conversations between the women. There are scenes where the stage lights go out, and the only sounds the audience can hear are clips of their dialogue changing topics. The clips are repeated constantly, revisiting the show’s core themes.

Later in the play, characters return to previous topics, giving the audience a full understanding of the situation through a new perspective.

“Every woman who comes to this show can connect themselves to the characters in some way,” Grech said.

The characters speak to diverse issues, ranging from social anxiety, anorexia, and the loss of loved ones. Kristina Vukelic delivered a powerful performance as a mom grieving the loss of her athlete daughter.

Seeing women in these athletic, dominating roles makes The Wolves as relevant as ever. It explores and dismantles the distance between idealized images of women in sports.

The variety of issues and personalities in The Wolves creates depth and adds reality to the lives of the women its characters portray. It’s a play about the realities of womanhood, including everything it entails, while breaking through gendered stereotypes.

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