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Soccer strikes the stage in debut play

Director Joan Robbins and the cast of the upcoming play,

Director Joan Robbins and the cast of the upcoming play, "The Wolves," spend a Saturday morning rehearsing one scene that requires the cast to pass a soccer ball and produce dialogue simultaneously. The debut show by Sarah DeLappe is set to open February 22 in Stambaugh Theater (photo/Northern Review).

Adolescence can be a weird period of time in one’s life. It’s a time of fast-paced changes both socially and biologically. As students progress in their college career, it can become very difficult to think back to the time when insecurities and peer pressure thrived and reputations were everything. In playwright Sarah DeLappe’s debut play, “The Wolves,” students will get a glimpse of the olden days as it captures the raw emotions associated with female youth and their relationships on a club soccer team.

Junior musical theater and international theater productions major Haley Ward is portraying one of the girls on the team. Ward, along with the rest of the cast, have prepared for the roles of high school soccer players by working with the ONU girls’ soccer team and the intramural soccer team. In addition, the cast met with the captains of the Findlay High School soccer team, asking questions about their relationships with their teammates and conflicts that come with being on a team. Ward said it has been very fun to revisit her life as a teenager again.

“I think the hardest part is remembering how I felt as a high schooler,” Ward said. “Because even though it was a few years ago, the growth you have from 17 to 20 is enormous, especially if you go off to college. What's been hard for me as a character is realizing I'm not as confident. When I was younger, I was a little more insecure, so tracing back to that was a little harder.”

As if the throwback to pimple popping and crazy mood swings wasn't enough, the cast had to learn a new skill: soccer.

Junior biology major Olivia Keserich helped the cast learn how to play soccer. Her extensive soccer career dates back to her days in elementary school, and she has continued to play since. She is currently the secretary of the ONU club soccer team. Her close relationship with the theater department faculty and students made her the ideal movement coach. She said she made an effort to praise and encourage the cast members as she led them through drills.

“I wanted them to make sure they felt like they were doing a lot better than they thought they were doing,” she said. “You had to make sure they were understanding where I was going with the information and that they weren't’t getting discouraged.”

Keserich said the cast grew much closer after “training” together.

“You can tell that they really come together and act like a team," she said. "It was kind of quiet after the beginning. We did the wolves chant at the end, and it was just like an actual team cheering at the end of a game. They’re just a big family, and it’s awesome.”

Assistant professor of theater and director of the show Dr. Joan Robbins also acquired the role of coach for this new show. During practice, she watches her cast members’ every movement and provides feedback just like any sports coach. She was very grateful for the help of head coach of women’s soccer Mark Batman as well as the ONU soccer team, ONU club team, and Findlay High School team.

Robbins hopes students at ONU will gain insight into the life of teenagers, especially girls who are about to embark on womanhood. Furthermore, Robbins hopes to attract athletes and sports fanatics, offering both groups a new perspective on female athletes.

“I think we should be flies on the wall when listening to a group of athletes,” Robbins said. “Female athletes, like male athletes, are tough, and I think we aren’t used to seeing girls that way. We’re used to seeing them as soft and receding. I think it will be surprising to the audience. We’ve all been a part of the team, and this play is about that experience as well.

“I'd also love to attract athletes and followers of athletics because it's quite a beautiful window into that world and especially into the world of adolescent girls who are athletes.”

Stambaugh Theater in the Freed Center for the Performing Arts will be transformed into an Astro Turf® field, and the students of ONU get to be the spectators as a cast of young women explore the relationships of adolescent girls in this acclaimed production. The show will open February 22 at 7:30 p.m.

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