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Study Guide Contents 3.)

Production Information

4.) Introduction




Letter from Community Engagement and Education Team


An Interview with the Playwright


Meet the Director


About the Play




The Set


Women in Sports


Themes to Explore


Questions for Discussion


Elements of Drama


Elements of Design


Educational Outreach at Syracuse Stage


Director of Community Engagement & Education Joann Yarrow (315) 443-8603

Associate Director of Education Kate Laissle (315) 442-7755

Community Engagement & Education Assistant MiKayla Hawkinson (315) 443-1150

Group Sales & Student Matinees Tracey White (315) 443-9844

Box Office (315) 443-3275

Written by Len Fonte and MiKayla Hawkinson Designed by MiKayla Hawkinson

Special thanks to Lincoln Theatre Center


College of Visual and Performing MEDIA SPONSOR





Melissa Rain Anderson SCENIC DESIGNER




Anya Klepikov

Suzanne Chesney

Nathan W. Scheuer

Jacqueline R Herter







Rachael Logue

Carmen Masalin

Stuart Plymesser*

Harriet Bass Casting

Robert Hupp

Jill A. Anderson

Kyle Bass

Ralph Zito

Artistic Director

Managing Director

Associate Artistic Director

Chair, Department of Drama

The Wolves is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc. World premiere produced by The Playwrights Realm (Katherine Kovner, Artistic Director | Roberta Pereira, Producing Director) on September 8, 2016 and remounted on December 5, 2016 by special arrangement with Scott Rudin and Eli Bush. Originally presented by New York Stage and Film and Vassar in the Powerhouse Season, Summer 2016. Playwrights Horizons Theater School produced a workshop of The Wolves in 2015 in association with Clubbed Thumb, where the play had been developed previously. Winner of the 2016 Sky Cooper New American Play Prize at Marin Theatre Company, Mill Valley, CA; Jasson Minadakis, Artistic Director; Keri Kellerman, Managing Director. Produced by Lincoln Center Theater, New York City, 2017. January 22 - February 16, 2020


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As you take your students on the exciting journey into the world of live theatre, we hope that you’ll take a moment to help prepare them to make the most of their experience. Unlike movies or television, live theatre offers the thrill of unpredictability. With the actors present on stage, the audience response becomes an integral part of the performance and the overall experience: the more involved and attentive the audience, the better the show. Please remind your students that they play an important part in the success of the performance.





audience etiquette BE PROMPT Give your students plenty of time to arrive, find their seats, and get situated. Have them visit the restrooms before the show begins. RESPECT OTHERS Please remind your students that their behavior and responses affect the quality of the performance and the enjoyment of the production for the entire audience. Live theatre means the actors and the audience are in the same room, and just as the audience can see and hear the performers, the performers can see and hear the audience. Please ask your students to avoid disturbing those around them. Please no talking or unnecessary or disruptive movement during the performance. Also, please remind students that cell phones should be switched off completely. No texting or any social media, please. When students give their full attention to the action on the stage, they will be rewarded with the best performance possible. GOOD NOISE, BAD NOISE Instead of instructing students to remain totally silent, please discuss the difference between appropriate responses (laughter, applause, participation when requested) and inappropriate noise (talking, cell phones, etc). STAY WITH US Please do not leave or allow students to leave during the performance except in absolute emergencies. Again, reminding them to use the restrooms before the performance will help eliminate unnecessary disruption.

Dear Educator, The best way of learning is learning while you’re having fun. Live theatre provides the opportunity for us to connect with more than just our own story, it allows us to find ourselves in other people’s lives and grow beyond our own boundaries. We’re the only species on the planet who makes stories. It is the stories that we leave behind that define us. Giving students the power to watch stories and create their own is part of our lasting impact on the world. We invite you and your students to engage with the stories we tell as a starting point for you and them to create their own. Sincerely, Joann Yarrow, Kate Laissle, and MiKayla Hawkinson Community Engagement and Education

2019/2020 EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH SPONSORS Syracuse Stage is committed to providing students with rich theatre experiences that explore and examine what it is to be human. Research shows that children who participate in or are exposed to the arts show higher academic achievement, stronger self-esteem, and improved ability to plan and work toward a future goal. Many students in our community have their first taste of live theatre through Syracuse Stage’s outreach programs. Last season more than 15,500 students from across New York State attended or participated in the Bank of America Children’s Tour, artsEmerging, the Young Playwrights Festival, Backstory, Young Adult Council, and/or our Student Matinee Program. We gratefully acknowledge the corporations and foundations who support our commitment to in-depth arts education for our community.


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An interview with the Playwright

Sarah DeLappe

Where did the play come from? I played soccer and other sports as a kid, but I never played at the elite level as the girls who are on the Wolves. I quit when I was fourteen so I could do theater and act in plays. They didn’t have a soccer team at my high school so, in a way, this is wish fulfillment: I got to write about the team that I was never a part of in high school. A couple of summers ago, I went to an exhibit at The New Museum that was a survey of contemporary art from the Middle East and North Africa. I was walking around and watching all of these metropolitan New Yorkers look at their iPhones in the middle of this incredibly affecting art about suicide bombings, and Syria, and the civil war in Lebanon, and then go back to drinking cold brew or talking about what they were doing that weekend. They would say something intelligent about the art and then just move quickly along with the rest of their life. There was something about the obvious gap in the experience of these people and the world that they were consuming briefly that made me think, “What could be further away than a bunch of suburban girls on an indoor soccer field warming up for a soccer game?” On the subway on the way back to my apartment, I started writing the first scene of the play. At the time, I didn’t know it was [the first scene] - it was just two simultaneous conversations, one about the Khmer Rouge and one about the efficacy of tampons or pads. While I was writing it, I quickly began thinking of it as a war movie. But instead of a bunch of men who are going into battle, you have a bunch of young women who are preparing for their soccer games.




Why did you choose to identify the characters by their numbers and not their names? I wanted the characters to exist only as members of the team on the turf. This is the only place where they are athletes, first and foremost. I was interested in creating a world where teenage girls could define themselves, as opposed to being defined by parents or boyfriends or the male gaze. They get to set the rules, but they’re also moving through this simultaneous, synchronized warm up, physically moving as one organism. Each of them existing as a number is related to the idea of them moving and existing as one organism on the field.

What made you want to become a playwright? I reached a point in college when I felt disenchanted by my own abilities and limitations as an actor, but also at the roles that were available for women, especially young women. I took a playwriting class with Paula Vogel. I felt like everything about the [theater’s] attention to “liveness” and actually being in the room - the way that it forces audience members to pay attention to the ways we’re not paying attention in our day-to-day life – was really attractive to me.

How long did it take you to write the play? It was fast. The first draft was written in three weeks, a month. I spent at least two years refining it through a series of workshops, but seventy-five percent of the first draft is still intact. My changes are probably unnoticeable to the naked eye. I heard each of the nine voices orchestrally, so there would be a moment when I could just intuitively feel that we needed more piccolo here, or more cello here.

What are the questions that you want people to be thinking about when they watch the play? The play has a certain ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ aspect to it because there’s so much overlapping dialogue and so much action. I hope that the audience doesn’t catch every single word or every single moment of the play. In a way, you’re a fly-on-the-wall. I want the audience to be wondering who each of these girls is as they slowly reveal themselves over the course of the play.

Where do you like to write? I write in my apartment at my desk. I like to write where it’s quiet. I can’t write in a library or a coffee shop because I need the silence to feel like I can hear my own thoughts.

Courtesy of Lincoln Center Theatre


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Meet the Director Melissa Rain Anderson

Melissa Rain Anderson is thrilled to be making her Syracuse Stage debut with this powerful piece of theatre. Selected work includes The Repertory Theater of St. Louis: regional premiere of The Play that Goes Wrong and The Wolves; Denver Center Theater Company: A Christmas Carol several years; Utah Shakespeare Festival: Macbeth, Big River, and The Cocoanuts; Alabama Shakespeare Festival: All is Calm - The Christmas Truce of 1914. Melissa is an affiliate artist at Geva Theatre Center where she has directed In The Heights, La Cage, HAIR, Funny Thing‌Forum, Spamalot, Spelling Bee, among others. Upcoming: Redhouse Arts Center: Romeo and Juliet and Santa Cruz Shakespeare: A Flea in Her Ear. Melissa lives in New York City with her husband Jim Poulos, for more information please visit Melissarainanderson.com




Photo courtesy of melissarainanderson.com

The Wolves About the Play Enter a world you think you may know. The Wolves are a girls’ soccer team. The nine players are 16 and 17 years old. Over a series of wintry Saturdays on an AstroTurf indoor soccer field somewhere in suburban America, they perform their ritual pre-game warm-up. Between stretches and pep talks, cajoling and consoling, jokes and jibes, an eye-opening and sympathetic portrait of nine young women emerges, revealing their complexities and confusions as they grapple with issues large and small, near at hand and far away. Through precisely orchestrated cross talk, snappy overlapping dialogue, and some pretty nifty footwork, playwright Sarah DeLappe celebrates these young women as independent individuals: athletes, scholars, daughters, students, and friends. “The scary, exhilarating brightness of raw adolescence emanates from every scene of this uncannily assured first play,” wrote The New York Times. -Renderings by Suzanne Chesney


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Characters #8 Defense. Sweet natured, she’s childlike and determined to stay that way. She hides how bright she is, hoping that will gain her friendship from other team members. Age sixteen.

#46 Bench. She’s the new girl on the team and a bit of a mystery. She’s been homeschooled. Awkward and different, she desperately wants to fit in but only manages to look inept. She claims to never have played on a team before, but is very good. Age sixteen.




#13 Midfield. She’s a stoner, really into recreational drugs she gets from her older pot dealer brother. She’s into her into her wackiness, but she struggles with relationships. Age sixteen.

#25 Defense. The ex coach’s daughter, she’s the team captain. She’s resolute and serious and works hard to foster team unity. Age seventeen.

*Soccer Mom. She is grieving from loss. She finds some peace in coming to the Wolves’ practice with orange slices for the team.

Characters #14 Midfield. #7’s insecure sidekick. She’s desperate to appear cool. She just switched to contacts. She is vulnerable to peer pressure. Age sixteen.

#00 Goalie. She has intense performance anxiety, is a perfectionist and a high achiever. She purges before each game. Age seventeen.

#7 Striker. For her, status is everything. She’s the alpha dog with a college age boyfriend. Too cool for school. She’s loud, confrontational, and sarcastic. Almost seventeen.

#2 Defense. She is very innocent, with a strong belief in spiritual enlightenment. She’s kind, but unlucky. Her teammates have notice how thin she’s gotten. Age sixteen.

#11 Midfield. She’s smart with a dark sense of humor. She can be morbid as she grapples with life’s big questions. However, she can be an elitist. Age seventeen. SYRACUSE STAGE EDUCATION

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The Set

For The Wolves, designer Anya Klepikov and crew has transformed the Storch Theatre into an alley style stage, with seating on two sides of an elongated playing area, kind of like a runway or a shoebox with seating on both longer sides. The advantage of the alley theater is that it thrusts viewers into the picture. It breathes life into plays with action that must unfold with naturalism and without elaborate scenery. Like theater in the round, the alley creates intimacy through three dimensional stage pictures. As seen here in a designer’s model for The Wolves, the audience is seated on what can be seen as the bleachers of an indoor soccer field with an astroturf floor. As the Wolves do their warm-ups, we’re right there with them. 12



Women in Sports

2019 FIFA World Cup US Women’s Check out highlights of the win!


Brandi Chastain

Mia Hamm • • • •

Retired professional soccer player Two-time Olympic gold medalist Two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup champion Played a forward on the United States women’s national soccer team from 1987-2004

• • • • • •

Retired professional soccer player Two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion Two-time Olympic gold medalist Soccer coach Sports broadcaster Played for the United States women’s national soccer team from 1988-2004 -Photos and statistics from Wikipedia SYRACUSE STAGE EDUCATION

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Women in Sports

Photo courtesy of CNN. We do now own the rights to this photo.

Nike Pregnancy Scandal “Nike told me to do crazy, until I wanted a baby...”

Abby Wambach

-Photos and statistics from Wikipedia

• • • • •

Retired professional soccer player Soccer coach Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist FIFA Women’s World Cup champion Six-time winner of the U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year award • Played on the United States women’s national soccer team from 2003 to 2015 Abby Wambach’s speech at the Barnard College Commencement Ceremony https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJe40l2waxs 14



Professional runner, Alysia Montaño, known during the 2014 Olympics as “the pregnant runner,” participated in a video calling out Nike for what she points out is a hypocritical disconnect between its inspirational ad slogans and its maternity leave policy for sponsored athletes. When she told Nike she was pregnant, she says, they told her they would simply pause her sponsorship contract and stop paying her. “If you want to be an athlete and a mother, well that’s just crazy,” she says in a voiceover, mocking Nike’s “Dream Crazier” slogan. “No, seriously, it’s not a good idea.” -Kaitlyn Tiffany, Vox.com Watch the New York Times interview below: https://youtu.be/VYvhKDHsWRE

Themes to Explore The Khmer Rouge and Cambodia The Wolves begins with a lengthy discussion about war and genocide, kicked off by #11. In keeping with the playwright’s desire to contrast conversation that is profound and prosaic, the girls puzzle over ethical questions about the Khmer Rouge, while simultaneously debating the efficacy of tampons over sanitary pads. Cambodia is a former French colony in Asia. It gained its independence in 1953. Because it shares a border with Vietnam, Cambodia was drawn into the Vietnam War, causing instability in the region. This instability led to the Cambodian Civil War, a conflict between the Khmer Rouge political party and its allies, and the Kingdom of Cambodia, the ruling political party. The Khmer Rouge overthrew the Kingdom of Cambodia, or the Khmer Republic, and installed a totalitarian regime in Cambodia that it called Democratic Kampuchea. Pol Pot, a former schoolteacher, became the leader of Cambodia in 1975 and has been described as a genocidal tyrant. The Khmer Rouge and its leaders, Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Son Sen, and Khieu Samphan, are responsible for the Cambodian genocide which occurred from 1975 until 1978. Under the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia was isolated from all foreign influences. Schools, hospitals, and factories were closed as citizens were forced into work camps. The guards at the work camps were mostly teenagers from rural, agricultural backgrounds. Inspired by Mao Zedong, who led the Cultural Revolution of Communist China, the Khmer Rouge insisted on self-sufficiency and an agrarian society. The regime forced millions of Cambodians to become farmers, including those who had no experience in agriculture. Lack of knowledge about farming led to famine and death for millions of Cambodians. In addition to starvation, work exhaustion, and lack of treatment for treatable illnesses, millions of Cambodians were executed due to the government’s social engineering policies and intolerance of perceived subversive elements. The genocide was estimated to have claimed between 1.4 million and 2.2 million lives, half due to executions and the other half from starvation and disease.

The Khmer Rouge government and the Cambodian genocide officially ended when Vietnam won the Cambodian Vietnamese War in 1991, but fighting by the Khmer Rouge did not truly end until the mid-1990s. In 2014, two Khmer Rouge leaders, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, were found guilty by the United Nations of crimes against humanity and being responsible for the death of up to two million Cambodians. Pol Pot, and other leaders of the Khmer Rouge, died before they could be brought to justice for their crimes. -Courtesy of Lincoln Center Theatre

What relationships may be drawn between war and sports? Why are sports games often compared to “battlefields”?


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Themes to Explore

Abu Ghraib Prison Scandal Location: Abu Ghraib, Iraq Subject: Iraq War

The Wolves continue a conversation about some other intense topics surrounding war, genocide, and the harsh treatment of humans.

“Few incidents have done more damage to America’s image in the world than the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal. In late April 2004, Americans got their first glimpse of the haunting photographs of Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison west of Baghdad: scenes of naked, humiliated prisoners piled on top of one another, some forced to assume sexual positions, all while American soldiers posed nearby, smiling at the camera. The photos provoked an instant outcry around the world,” states the Center for Public Integrity. For more information on Abu Ghraib click the link below: https://publicintegrity.org/politics/abu-ghraib-prison-scandal-2/

Border Detention; Location: United States borders

Often, undocumented aliens or individuals lacking legal permission to enter, or remain, in the United States, when apprehended at the U.S. border are detained and placed in removal proceedings in front of an immigration judge. These individuals may include refugees seeking asylum.

Subject: Undocumented individuals For more information on border patrol and detentions visit the links provided below: https://www.unrefugees.org/refugee-facts/camps/


https://www.washingtonpost.com/immigration/kids-in-cageshttps://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/6/25/18715725/chilhouse-hearing-to-examine-immigration-detention-as-democratspush-for-more-information/2019/07/10/3cc53006-a28f-11e9-b732- dren-border-detention-kids-cages-immigration 41a79c2551bf_story.html 16



Friendship: What is the difference between a friend and a teammate? Which team members appear to be friends? How do we know? What is the role of friendship in the play? In what ways is friendship a source of stress for the girls? Conflict: Is there a major conflict in the play? What is each character struggling with? What conflicts or problems remained unresolved by the end of the play? What is the dramatic effect of leaving certain conflicts unresolved? Cohesion: According to Rosalind Wiseman in her book “Queen Bees and the Wannabes,” group cohesion is based on loyalty to its leaders and a sense of “us” versus “them.” Who is the leader in The Wolves? Is there more than one? Does leadership shift during the play? How cohesive are the Wolves at the beginning of the play? How does this compare to the end of the play? Confidence: A greater degree of confidence in teenagers has been attributed to their participation in youth sports. Who in The Wolves appears confident and how is this expressed? How does this confidence compete with the girls’ insecurities? What does each girl’s insecurity stem from and how does she express it? Adults: What is the role of adults in this play? How are adults discussed by the Wolves? How does the adult world contrast to that of the world created by the Wolves on the pitch? What is the effect of the Soccer Mom’s appearance at the end of the play? How does her presence influence the Wolves? Questions for discussion Courtesy of Lincoln Center Theatre


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elements of drama PLOT

What is the story line? What happened before the play started? What do the characters want? What do they do to achieve their goals? What do they stand to gain/lose? THEME

What ideas are wrestled with in the play? What questions does the play pose? Does it present an opinion? CHARACTER

Who are the people in the story? What are their relationships? Why do they do what they do? How does age/status/etc. effect them? LANGUAGE

What do the characters say? How do they say it? When do they say it? MUSIC

How do music and sound help to tell the story? SPECTACLE

Any piece of theatre comprises multiple art forms. As you explore this production with your students, examine the use of:



At its core, drama is about characters working toward goals and overcoming obstacles. Ask students to use their bodies and voices to create characters who are: very old, very young, very strong, very weak, very tired, very energetic, very cold, very warm. Have their characters interact with others. Give them an objective to fulfill despite environmental obstacles. Later, recap by asking how these obstacles effected their characters and the pursuit of their objectives.

How do the elements come together to create the whole performance?

Other Elements: Conflict/Resolution, Action, Improvisation, Non-Verbal Communication, Staging, Humor, Realism and other styles, Metaphor, Language, Tone, Pattern and Repetition, Emotion, Point of View. 18




How are each of these elements used in this production? Why are they used? How do they help to tell the story?

elements of design LINE can have length, width, texture, direction,

and curve. There are five basic varieties: vertical, horizontal, diagonal, curved, and zig-zag. SHAPE is two-dimensional and encloses space.

It can be geometric (e.g. squares and circles), man-made, or free-form. FORM is three-dimensional. It encloses space

and fills space. It can be geometric (e.g. cubes and cylinders), man-made, or free-form. COLOR has three basic properties:

HUE is the name of the color (e.g. red, blue, green), INTENSITY is the strength of the color (bright or dull), VALUE is the range of lightness to darkness.

TEXTURE refers to the “feel” of an object’s surface. It can be smooth, rough, soft, etc. Textures may be ACTUAL (able to be felt) or IMPLIED (suggested visually through the artist’s technique).

SPACE is defined and determined by shapes and forms. Positive space is enclosed by shapes and forms, while negative space exists around them.


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Educational Outreach at Syracuse Stage Children’s Tour


Each fall, the Bank of America Children’s Tour brings high-energy, interactive, and culturally diverse performances to elementary school audiences. Each performance is fully staged with scenery, costumes, and sound. You need only provide the stage, cafeteria, classroom, or any open space. Performances include a talkback with the actors and our helpful study guide for further classroom exploration. Pre- or postshow sessions with our talented teaching artists can be arranged upon request.

Each winter, the Backstory program brings history to life as professional actors portray historical figures in classrooms and other venues. Previous presentations have included historical figures such as Anne Frank; Ace, a Tuskegee Airman; and Annie Easley a human computer for NASA.

YAC: Young Adult Council

Each spring, Syracuse Stage invites Central New York high school students to write original ten-minute plays and other performance pieces for entry in our annual Young Playwrights Festival contest. Our panel of theatrical and literary professionals evaluates each student’s play. Semifinalists are invited to a writing workshop at Syracuse Stage where their plays will be read and critiqued. Finalists will see their plays performed as staged readings by Syracuse University Department of Drama students at the annual Young Playwrights Festival. The festival is free and open to the public. The 2019 season was our largest year to date with 365 entries.

THE YOUNG ADULT COUNCIL (YAC) at Syracuse Stage seeks to give teens a voice in the programming designed for them while exploring how theatre impacts their lives. The program focuses on peer led discussion and events in addition to advocating for theatre and arts participation to fellow students. (YAC) is a group of high school students from the Central New York area that meets bi-monthly to create and implement pre-show events that will help inspire the next generation of theatregoers. YAC members can also take advantage of opportunities to learn from professional theatre artists at Syracuse Stage and through workshops, internships, and shadow programs.

Young Playwrights Festival

Summer Youth Theatre Experience Theatre for the Very Young Enter into a world of discovery, fun, and all silly sounds. Theatre for the Very Young is our touring series of our youngest audience members and their families.




Come and play with professional teaching artists of Syracuse Stage as we dive into the magical world of creativity and performance. This is a four-week program for middle school students.

MAR 11 - 29

By Reginald Rose | Directed by James Still Co-Produced with Indiana Repertory Theatre

By Peter Shaffer | Directed by Robert Hupp Co-Produced with the Syracuse University Department of Drama


NOV 22 - JAN 5



Music by Alan Menken | Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice | Book by Linda Woolverton | Directed by Donna Drake Co-Produced with the Syracuse University Department of Drama

JAN 22 - FEB 16


By Sarah DeLappe | Directed by Melissa Rain Anderson | Co-Produced with the Syracuse University Department of Drama



Book by Enda Walsh | Music and Lyrics by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová | Based on the Motion Picture Written and Directed by John Carney | Directed by Mark Cuddy Co-Produced with Geva Theatre Center

MAY 27 - JUN 14



OCT 9 - 27

SEP 4 - 21


By Keenan Scott II | In association with Brian Moreland and Ron Simons | Directed by Steve H. Broadnax III | Co-Produced with Baltimore Center Stage

APR 1 - 5



Playwright-In-Residence Octavio Solis Solo Performer-In-Residence Bill Bowers Featured Local Playwright Charles Martin Curated by Kyle Bass

By Dipika Guha Directed by Robert Hupp




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Profile for Syracuse Stage

The Wolves Study Guide  

The Wolves Study Guide  

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