‘The Wolves’ at CSU takes hyperrealism to the fields

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Collegian | Sara Shaver

Tiana Fuentes (8) and Abby Hunt (2) perform during the School of Music, Theatre and Dance production of “The Wolves,” written by Sarah DeLappe, in front of the Lory Student Center Oct. 1.

Emmalee Krieg, Staff Reporter

Soccer season at Colorado State University began this year like all others: cleats, warmup drills, drama and stage directions.

“The Wolves” by Sarah DeLappe, directed by Saffron Henke, was performed on the Lory Student Center West Lawn Sept. 29 through Oct. 2. 

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At first glance, you wouldn’t think a play about high school girls on a soccer team was actually going on. You’d see part of a soccer field with a giant goal, a port-a-potty and tents. Pretty standard for any outdoor game, right? Except the paint lines were bordered with speakers, and the players had microphones taped to their backs.

The cast of "The Wolves," written by Sarah DeLappe and directed by Saffron Henke
The cast of “The Wolves,” written by Sarah DeLappe and directed by Saffron Henke, bowing at the end of their matinee performance in front of the Lory Student Center Oct. 1. (Collegian | Sara Shaver)

“I thought it was really creative; I’ve never seen a play outside.’’ –Zail Acosta, CSU junior

The performers weren’t put on a stage to tower over the audience but instead put on the same playing field — literally. Audience members took on the role of spectators with lawn chairs and blankets, camped out for their favorite game.

Some spectators found this setup to be inviting.

“I thought the outdoor aspect was really interesting, … very inviting and kind of approachable,” said Maya Jones, a student at CSU. “To someone who doesn’t go to a ton of theater productions, it felt very welcoming.” 

Charlie Williamson (25), addresses Erin Fuller (46), during the matinee performance of "The Wolves"
Charlie Williamson (25) addresses Erin Fuller (46) during the matinee performance of “The Wolves,” written by Sarah DeLappe, in front of the Lory Student Center Oct. 1. (Collegian | Sara Shaver)

While the set added some realism to the play, it was actually the dialogue depicted among teenage girls that gave it more authenticity.

“Growing up in sports, it’s a very realistic representation of how conversations might go,” CSU student Ansley Kuller said. 

A lot of conversation went from gossip to global politics, mental health to body image and a whole array of subjects. The hyperrealism was displayed through the adolescence the actors portrayed in their characters. Whether it was teasing each other about love interests or deeper conversations about politics and indicators of underlying problems, it was all covered before the coin toss.

Henke was also able to capture the growth of adolescent relationships and how they change over time. It’s thinly veiled that these soccer players were once children who befriended each other and bonded through the love of their sport but became estranged teammates who don’t even invite each other to birthdays anymore. The audience watched the teammates go from being excited by the same old orange slices to making jokes that led to screaming matches.

It made the added dynamic of loss and tragedy that much more impactful. It showed different ways people deal with grief, even with tattered friendships and broken bonds.

“I thought it was really creative,” said Zail Acosta, a junior at CSU. “I’ve never seen a play outside.’’

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The play initially pulled the audience in with the idea that these teenagers have surface-level problems. Throughout each act, the audience saw a glimpse of something more serious hiding behind the curtain, unraveling a bigger truth about mental health and relationships in teenagers.

It’s then amplified through the stress of players wanting to play in college and the jealousy of taking positions and playing time.

“It was really realistic and eye-opening,” said Hayley Troyan, a student at CSU.

“The Wolves” definitely covered deeper topics through the lens of teenagers. Whether it was through tactful language or the characteristics each actor put into their performance, it balanced entertainment and social reality.

 Reach Emmalee Krieg at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.