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Theatre production to build community around women, politics and soccer

Campus is usually quiet at 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday., but inside the Center of Performing Arts, stage manager and junior Delaney McLaughlin prepares for a 13-hour tech rehearsal of “The Wolves.” Assistant director and junior Jamie Chmielewski sets up a table for snacks and writes a note of encouragement for the cast and crew before making a run to Oxford Doughnut Shoppe.

“The Wolves,” a one-act play by Sarah DeLappe, follows a girls indoor soccer team as they warm up before their game each week. The nine girls slide tackle big political questions and social topics with the energy and awareness of high school students. The cast consists of ten women: nine teammates identified by their jersey numbers and a soccer mom played by professor and Chair of Theatre department Julia Guichard. 

“To me, it explores the suburban bubble and what happens when that bubble is popped, what happens when tragedy strikes,” Chmielewski said. “And for most of the girls, it’s their first experience with tragedy.” 

The production team is composed almost entirely of women with lighting design by sophomore Julie Whapham, scene design by senior Lauren Lienhart and direction by Cincinnati-based actor and director Susan Felder. 

“I think Susan puts it best in saying this show is about the complications of the human heart told through the story of teenage girls,” McLaughlin said. “It’s about what teenagers face and how they go through those experiences together.” 

The show tackles topics such as abortion, eating disorders, religion and immigration in a humorous, yet heart-wrenching way. 

“Just because these topics are not ‘at-the-dinner-table’ topics doesn’t mean they should be talked about,” McLaughlin said.

Senior Majorie Trimble, who plays “#25,” agrees.

 “I think this show is a good thing for today’s culture,” Trimble said, “Because it tackles topics that young teens and adults are growing so much faster with because of technology. It’s an entertaining story of a bunch of girls going through life while trying to pass soccer balls across a small stage.” 

Chmielewski said assistant directing an all-women cast and having a female director has been her favorite part of the experience. Sophomore Laura Smith, who plays “#00,” said it can be difficult to work with male directors when scripts are so female-dominated.

“Topics relating to womanhood can often be watered down by the male gaze,” Smith said. “But working with an all-female cast has made those topics and those moments so expansive.” 

Smith also warns audience members they should expect to cry. 

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“It's such an interesting experience for an audience member, and the script is slowly reaching a place of popularity where it can have a cultural impact,” she said. “I cry almost every night because of the ending.”

Many college theatre departments and smaller professional companies around the U.S. are also producing this show.

“It's such a popular show right now,” Chmielewski said. “Why would you not want to come see it? It’s an excellent piece of theatre,” 

Miami University Theatre will perform “The Wolves” at 7:30 p.m. on March 11-14 and 2 p.m. on March 15 in Studio 88 Theatre. Admission is $8 for students and $12 for adults.