The future of theatre is female.
That’s definitely the impression I had while speaking with the directorial team of the Guild Theatre’s production of playwright Sarah DeLappe’s The Wolves, a play centered around a youth soccer team. The entire production team—from the cast to the designers to stage managers and technicians—is made up of people who identify as female or non-binary.
This includes the two co-directors, Meredith Pritchard and Katelyn (Kate) Clark; and the two assistant directors, Autumn Chandler and Sydney Sinclair. The play itself is written for female-identifying characters which was a huge draw for Pritchard, Clark and Sinclair who spoke with me about the production.
“I’m really passionate about youth and theatre and about having as many female-identifying roles as possible, especially for youth,” Pritchard said. “I find that theatre sometimes can be a little male-heavy and having a script that is all female-identifying characters (not all of our actors are female-identifying), I was really stoked on that.”
Sinclair, who is in grade 10 and trying her hand at directing for the first time, wholeheartedly agreed.
“This play … oh my goodness!” Sinclair exclaimed. “It definitely really touched me because I’m a youth and I identify as female and they talk about a lot of things, not necessarily that affect them but things they hear about out in the world and different perspectives they have on them from their different backgrounds. And that is so amazing—to hear how different youth have voices and have thoughts on all these things … it’s not just adults who think about this.”
The Wolves is notable not only for presenting youth voices but for doing it in an authentic, realistic, uncontrived way.
“I was really struck by [DeLappe’s] ability to write dialogue that sounds like people talking, so there’s quite a bit of overlap and it’s also, like, pretty cool because it’s like you’re listening in on conversations with teenagers,” said Guild artistic director Brian Fidler.
Clark noted that the dialogue in the script was very much like the cast “talking about their school day and talking about people and friends and plans on the weekend and, like, you know, there’s the hot gossip. And then we get into working on the play and the conversations are exactly the same. It’s been really fun to see how real the script is.”
Clark also liked the script because it’s complicated, so much so that in many previous The Wolves productions that she researched she found that adult actors are cast to play youth characters.
“I felt really excited about taking a pretty-challenging script and giving it to young actors because I know there’s so many talented young performers here and they’re totally capable of it, and it’s been such a fun challenge for everyone to work through this script and sort of, like, get all these intricately woven conversations melded together.”
You might think that things would be a little crowded in the director’s chair, with two directors and two assistant directors. In fact, the individuals make space for one another and are unanimous in their unbridled enthusiasm for the experience.
“Oh my gosh, it’s a dream,” said Pritchard of the four directors working together.
“For me, collaboration is number one, like across the board for everything,” she continued. “With the designers, with the cast, with Kate and Autumn and Sydney, I think that we all have the same level of care going into the show and also [the same] level of care about the other directors’ ideas.
“I love having four people in the room, making decisions as a team. I think that Autumn and Sidney bring so much to it too. I am so proud watching them work. And I feel like Kate is my better half. I’m able to bounce ideas off her so well that we complement each other’s styles in a lovely way. So I would say it’s a dream.”
“Agreed! Agreed! It’s been so nice!” Clark echoed. “And I think that coming from the logistical side, yes, Meredith—we work so well together.
“And, like, it’s a lot of work to direct a play, and it’s so nice to be able to have someone to lean on, like Meredith and also like Autumn and Sydney, and it’s like all these people to carry this really heavy load.
Sinclair weighed in with pretty much the exact same sentiments.
“Kate and Meredith, you just balance each other out,” she said to her mentors. “It’s so cool to work with you guys.
“This whole directing process is really new to me so I’m just learning as I’m going, figuring things out, trying to take risks. Um, yeah, it’s just super fun.”
While The Wolves features youth characters and focuses on their experience, the play is meant for “whoever has ever been a teenager,” which is, of course, most of us. There is an audience advisory stating that the production is funny, but it also contains themes appropriate for a mature audience. The Wolves runs from Wednesday, February 15 to Saturday, March 4. Tickets are available from yukontickets.com.