When Point Park University alumna Rachel M. Stevens came back to Pittsburgh with the task to direct the The Wolves by playwright Sarah DeLappe, one of the first things she did after a pre-production brainstorming session last Fall was enlist Point Park women’s soccer team to work as collaborators.
“Much like a musical, when we work closely with choreographers, in this case, we sought Point Park’s soccer players and coaches to serve as consultants,” Stevens said. “It’s been an incredible collaboration, and we’ve developed a wonderful bond between the actors and soccer players.”
In her return to Pittsburgh, Stevens took on a play that has received numerous accolades including: a Finalist in 2017 for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and winner of the 2015 Relentless Award for Playwriting,
“I am honored as an alum to come to Pittsburgh and direct this play, to champion this story,” Stevens said. “The first time I saw The Wolves in New York, I was moved by how the play honestly depicts a chaotic journey towards self-actualization, unabashedly revealing the raw and terrifying but thrilling experience of growing up as a woman today.”
This current run of The Wolves at Point Park’s Pittsburgh Playhouse began February 21, and now that students have returned from Spring Break, shows have resumed, running through Sunday, March 8 in the Highmark Theatre at the Pittsburgh Playhouse, located at 350 Forbes Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh.
The Wolves is full of girl power and explosive energy as it follows a team of nine teenage soccer players through their season.
Conversations about female development, boyfriend drama, and friendly gossip, enable each girl to express her own distinct personality and individual character. When real tragedy occurs, the girls have to decide if they’ll forfeit their upcoming game or learn to stand together as a team and overcome their anxieties, grief and challenges.
Stevens said that she hit it off with Point Park’s interim women’s coach, Bethanie Moreschi, and five players who contributed to energizing and bringing authenticity to the soccer-related scenes which are so important to the performances.
“She (Moreschi) had no experience in theater. I didn’t know anything about soccer. But, there are a lot things that I had in common with her. We both are very involved in educational aspects of coaching and directing, which are very similar,” Stephens explained. “We both are teaching and giving players and actors a lot of instruction, but also we’re giving them ownership once they set foot on the stage — or the field — to go out and perform the tricks they’ve learned.”
Each scene takes place as the players are warming up prior to their game each week.
Stevens said that Point Park’s players and Moreschi spent time with the actors providing training of technical soccer skills and techniques.
“We are indebted to the soccer team,” Stevens added. “In this time, everyone’s grown really close. We had a cast with no soccer experience. We wanted to make everything as authentic and as real as possible.
Stevens describes the play as exhilarating and enjoyable with a deeply personal and intimate quality. She states that the play functions much like a movement piece – lyrical and athletic in the movement of the team on stage and orchestral through the actors’ dialogue.
This production also provides a rare opportunity for the actors to portray characters that are close to their age who experience the world, as Stevens describes, as a ‘pack of Wolves.’
The dialogue through the play comes exclusively through the voices of the young girls.
“It’s rare and special,” Stevens added. “Young people should feel well represented. The conversation is uninterrupted, and identifies choices young females have to make.”
“One can only hope that we can all learn from this example of how we can create something special when we come together and learn more about each other.”
How to get tickets to this weekend’s shows, and more about the Pittsburgh Playhouse
For tickets and additional information about the Pittsburgh Playhouse, you can visit: http://www.pittsburghplayhouse.com/
The four-story, state of the art facility, located in Downtown Pittsburgh at 350 Forbes Avenue, features the 550-seat PNC Theatre whose backstage and inner workings are visible from the street, resulting in an intentional glimpse into performing arts classes; the 200-seat Highmark Theatre; and the 99-seat Rauh Theatre. The new Pittsburgh Playhouse was designed to be both a learning laboratory for all Point Park students and cultural asset for the community. The Playhouse provides experiential learning opportunities and collaborates with the University’s Rowland School of Business and Center for Media Innovation on events, lectures and related programming.
The Pittsburgh Playhouse’s second season in its new home, runs through May 7, 2020 and features shows with The Wolves, Pippin, and Pump Up the Volume: A New Rock Musical in 2020. For more details on the season visit: Pittsburgh Playhouse News.