Teen Spirit

Actress Niki Moon, who plays one of the soccer girls, says the production is partly about love for the sport. “We’ve all been working our asses off, trying to look like we know how to play soccer.”

The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team dominated the Women’s World Cup on their way to their fourth championship title and near universal adulation. Now they are probably on a well-deserved victory lap of parades, appearances, interviews, endorsement deals, etc. It’s a good time for women and soccer.

And it’s providential timing with Western Stage’s young 2X4 BASH theater company opening its summer season with the play The Wolves. It follows a nine-member squad of a high school girls indoor soccer team as they stretch and do drills in preparation for their matches.

Written by new playwright Sarah DeLappe and set in an undisclosed American suburb, it was named a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Although the play is rooted in the competition and physicality of athletics, the grist of it is the relationships and conversations among the girls, who have been described as “a pack of female warriors.”

Niki Moon plays #13 (the girls are identified primarily by their numbers) and describes her character as loud, energetic – “I guess obnoxious,” Moon says. “It’s so real. The language is super authentic.”

Their teen issues are a jumble, from Harry Potter to menstruation, from social anxiety to the coach’s hangovers, with some swerves into the more serious hazards of life. Moon says the conversations bounce around and overlap each other.

“It’s 16-year-old girls so there is a roller coaster of emotions on that stage,” she says. “One minute they’re hugging each other, the next they’re fighting.”

She says there is enough going on that people might want to see it more than once. She says during rehearsals and blocking, director Nina Capriola talked with them about what is going on with each character.

“It’s so relatable on so many levels,” Capriola says. “As women, as friends, as people. It’s really incredibly drawn characters for the writer being so young.”

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Moon, who is 27, agrees: “I fell in love with the script. It’s so real. Performing it, I feel 16 again, jumping around acting like a fool. It’s really liberating.”

Moon says she and some of the other cast played soccer when they were younger and plan to don jerseys as homages to the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team. Capriola says as the Women’s World Cup progressed, and the fierceness of the U.S. team became apparent, “We all leaned into the soccer.”

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