I wrote this play in a sports bra. I am not an athlete in my current life and hadn’t worn one since high school. I would take off my shirt, take off my bra, pull the sports bra over my chest, and sit down to write. I overshare not to advocate for method writing (although…) but to suggest just what sort of play this play was from the start. Physical. Concerned with the body, with women’s bodies, not as eye candy or symbolic vessels but as muscular, dexterous, capable, contradictory, and fallible individuals.
Welcome to a planet of teenage girls.
The biographical fallacy hounds writers, particularly writers who happen to identify as female. Many assume that she must be writing from her own life or how else did she think of the darn thing? I did not play soccer in high school. I was a teenage girl, I knew other teenage girls, I still do. These characters are not downloaded from my yearbook. This play is not really about soccer.
So why soccer?
AstroTurf and American exceptionalism. It’s essential that these girls are playing indoor soccer, deep in the suburbs, in a massive structure engineered to allow them to pursue this leisure activity in short sleeves in the dead of winter. The world’s sport has been siloed to an Air Dome in a suburb. Their team is undefeated. These American teenagers exist, quite literally, in a bubble. At that particular age when the stakes of everyday life could not be higher, they are desperate to understand themselves and the world around them, but they can only see so far.
I thought of the play like a war movie. Instead of a troop of young men preparing for battle, we watch a team of young women warming up for their soccer game. There’s a captain, a rebel, an innocent, a recent recruit, a common enemy. The arc follows an escalation of blood and viscera both in the content of their speech and the actual sustained injuries and traumas. Of course, their battlefield is a carpet of artificial grass.
And, yet, on their artificial grass, these girls are allowed to define themselves amongst themselves. Their bodies are their own and they are strong. We do not meet them as the property or accessory of a man – a boyfriend, a father, an institutional custodian in school or in government – we meet them with each other. We’re on their turf. They’re not on ours.
Sarah DeLappe – Writer
The Wolves is playing in Belvoir’s Upstairs Theatre, 2 February – 3 March.