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Feature: The Wolves, Rising Arts Productions

Ahead of its opening on November 24, Manan Luthra speaks with Izabella Louk, star of Rising Arts ProductionsThe Wolves, about the play and her process.

Manan: What is The Wolves about?

Izabella: The Wolves is about a girls soccer team (The Wolves) and the trials and tribulations of being a teenage girl. We meet them each week warming up for their game, and weave in and out of their lives as they go through personal struggles, friendship drama, growing pains, and figure out the world around them. It’s very silly sometimes, serious at other times, but overall, it’s a heartwarming play. 

Who do you play?

I play #25. #25 is the team captain. She’s been playing soccer as long as she can remember, and her life revolves around the sport and the team. Her dream is to play pro soccer, and she’s hoping for a college soccer scholarship. Sometimes this means she’s so focused on winning, so she doesn’t really pay attention to anything else going on around her and doesn’t feel very close with her team. 

She’s a rule-follower and impatient with others, but on the inside she just wants friends and her friend’s acceptance. 

How have you approached the role?

Initially I was terrified. It’s a mammoth script with nine characters on stage for the entire play, and there’s always multiple conversations going on at once. I’ve also never played any kind of ball sport before, and the play heavily relies on the characters playing and doing drills on stage. Once I got my head around Sarah DeLappe’s incredible writing, I’ve just been drilling soccer skills non-stop. I’ve been carrying my soccer ball around in my car with me, and whenever I get a chance I’m practising, and then trying to practise while remembering lines and blocking and finding my light and everything else!

Is there a particular personality trait #25 has that stands out to you?

Though she’s not very close friends with any of her team members, I like how seriously she takes her captaincy; looking out for her team members, attempting to avert any oncoming drama, and encouraging them in her own very odd way. 

Have you run into any challenges? How did you overcome them?

Learning soccer has been such a challenge. Everytime I think I’ve mastered a new skill or drill, I add the lines and the scene back on top and suddenly forget everything. It’s like learning to walk again! So I’ve just been practising non-stop. There’s even moments in the play where I’m on stage but not really involved in the action, so I’m just over in the corner practising my drills.

Who else is in the cast?

It’s a cast of 10 women and non-binary performers, some who have played soccer before and some who like me are picking it up for the first time. This is the first time I’ve been in an all-woman and non-binary rehearsal room, and it’s been such a privilege to get to play and create in such a welcoming and supportive space. 

Which moment in the play is your favourite?

There’s a moment in the middle of the play where #25 is trying to hype up the team. The stage direction says something like “#25 jogs back in. She is super stressed.” And then I deliver the most cooked, over-the-top motivational speech that goes for three pages or so. #25 goes back and forth between yelling at her teammates, wild insecurity, talking to herself, and physically shaking members of the team to jolt them into action. It’s such a fun moment to play. 

I also really like that the play is set in 2015. #25 is in Year 12 and I was in Year 12 myself in 2015, so it feels very nostalgic. We use old iPhones as props, and last week we were trying to figure out what clothes we all thought were trendy in 2015. I think it’s so rare we get to see a story (whether that be TV, film, theatre, or something else) that celebrates teenage girls in all their glory and doesn’t make fun of their awkwardness, over-sexualise them, put down their interests, or dismiss their issues and existence. I wish I could have seen a play like this when I was this age, and I’m so excited that I get the opportunity to have a hand in creating something that celebrates this. 

What should audiences be looking forward to?

There is so much to look forward to; the audience is seated on all sides of the stage, so they’re practically part of the team, and I hope they feel the highs and lows of being a teenage girl with us. 

Sell the show in a sentence.

There is something for everyone: soccer, drama, gossip, and a very confused debate on the correct pronunciation of Khmer Rouge.

The Wolves is produced by Rising Arts Productions. It plays at Wollongong’s Side Door Theatre from 24 November – 2 December. Tickets are available here

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