a note from Nell Bang-Jensen
I fell in love with theater when I was around the same age as the young women in The Wolves. I saw Les Misérables on Broadway in my early teenage years and wept inconsolably. I was sucked into the spell of the dark theater so much that it felt like an abrupt, rude awakening when the lights came back on and the audience applauded. I walked outside to the first snow of the season and felt that something had unlocked within me.
That experience provided a space that welcomed the turmoil of my teenage emotions. While I could not entirely relate to the plot points of the show: how it would feel to be a child soldier in the French revolution, or selling my hair to save my child, as someone who attended high school every weekday, I knew the feelings of pain and joy and terror. What the show did was capture my quotidian feelings and provide the stakes and circumstances to match them. Regular life was mundane but the spectacle of theater matched the depths of feeling that existed in my teenage heart and mind. Finally, the rest of life was matching the emotional depths inside.
The soccer field is that space for the young women who are The Wolves. Sports, like theater, provide a spectacle where we tolerate emotions far more than we do in other spaces. Sports provide one of the only occasions deemed acceptable by our society for a grown man to cry. People mention the World Series on their death beds, they pass down season tickets from generation to generation. Athletic fields are one of the only spaces where these teenage girls, culturally expected to be polite and without desire or anger, can scream, sweat, bleed and yell at each other; where their bodies can tell stories when words may fail them.
On the first page of the script, playwright Sarah DeLappe quotes Gertrude Stein by saying, “We are always the same age inside.” Though the concerns, topics of conversation, and historical acumen of these young women may change as they get older, I hope for them that the emotional space they’ve found on the field remains; that they give themselves permission to cry, scream, feel anger, celebrate, weep, and most of all, hold one another in solidarity even beyond stadium lighting and darkened theaters.