Veronica Pena Negrette
#14 / SOCCER MUM*
*NOTE: Chelsea Hawke will be playing #14 and Tyallah Bullock will be playing Soccer Mum for the following performances; Tue 18, Wed 19 (evening), Fri 21 and Sat 22 (matinee) Oct. For all other performances, Tyallah Bullock will be playing #14 and Chelsea Hawke will be playing Soccer Mum.
Associate Set Designer
Assistant Stage Manager
Head of Staging
Taylor Amakia Tiauli
Hannah Jukes Frere
Deputy Head Electrician / Lighting Programmer and Operator
**Third year Bachelor of Fine Arts (Design and Production) student
Stagecraft Project Coordinator
Scenic Art Department
Production Academic Mentors
Nathan Burmeister, Jenny Hector, Kelly Ryall
VCA Production Academic Staff
Anna Cordingley, Martyn Coutts, Jo Evans, Amanda Hitten, Lisa Mibus, Lisa Osborn, Matt Scott
VCA Theatre Undergraduate Academic Staff
Dr Chris Mead, Dr Sarah Austin, Georgina Naidu, Amy Hume, Colin Sneesby, Steph Kehoe, Isabella Vadiveloo
The Wolves premiered in September 2016, two months before the election of Donald Trump.
Middle America’s choice of president.
Read against the rampant exceptionalism of the Trump years however, the politics of The Wolves are subtle. There are only oblique references to national politics, no mention of the looming climate crisis and the school curriculum seems to focus on historical crises of other nations far away.
Nine young women, each known only by their player number, prepare to play soccer in a sports dome somewhere in Middle America. They stretch, run and do drills. And they talk… conversations that swoop, split and overlap between the private and the public. This insulated bubble, annexed to the sports field, is a space where everyone can speak their truth, though some choose not to. There is love, loyalty and intimacy. There are moments of betrayal and exquisite cruelty. At the end of their high school years, these young women anticipate the scrutiny of scouts from colleges who will determine their future success. At the edge of womanhood, they negotiate menstruation, consent, body image, mental health and loss. The differences that might divide them in the world beyond the airdome are dissolved by the demands and ethos of the team.
As Jessica Arthur, who directed the play for Belvoir Street Theatre in 2019, observes, “it is rare to find a play in the theatrical canon written just for women” – particularly young women. The actors in Company 2022 have mined the ensemble ethos forged over 3 particularly tough years, to develop complex, multi-layered characters and relationships in response to a complex and challenging work of theatre. Like the characters they play they are beautiful, brave, curious, skilled and resilient.
– Yoni Prior
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 (Belvoir St Theatre, 2019)