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'The Wolves' Offers Vivid Picture of Teen Soccer Players' Lives

Monday, November 25, 2019

LAWRENCE — University Theatre will present “The Wolves,” a 2017 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama and work that has been highly produced in theatres nationwide since it closed off-Broadway in 2018. Catch the University of Kansas production Dec. 5-12 in the William Inge Memorial Theatre at Murphy Hall.

In the play by Sarah DeLappe, members of a girls’ indoor soccer team struggle to find their places as teammates and as members of a global community. In a series of pregame warmups, nine players get to know each other; through trauma, they form an even closer bond. While the majority of University Theatre’s productions are all-student cast, this production includes a featured role by Laura Kirk, a professional actor, writer and producer and faculty member of the Department of Theatre & Dance. “The Wolves” is guest-directed by Susan Kerner, a professor at Montclair State University who has directed nationally and internationally.

portrait of Susan Kerner from the chest up. She smiles and looks at the camera“Sarah De Lappe writes about what she experienced as a teenager growing up in Reno, Nevada. She masterfully captures the language and high-stakes intensity of everyday life for teenage girls as they peek out at a confusing world just outside their suburban bubble. But, as the playwright says, ‘They can only see so far,’” Kerner said. “And the humor comes from the wonderful commitment and truthfulness the KU actors bring to their work as nine distinctly individual members of the team.”

In addition to rehearsal, student cast members have endured individual soccer training and hours of soccer boot camp as a group in preparation for this play. Their offstage soccer coach is Santiago Sosa, a visiting assistant professor in the theatre & dance department. Sosa also participated in the production as voice and speech coach.

Tickets are on sale now at the University Theatre box office in Murphy Hall and online at kutheatre.com. Tickets are also available by calling 785-864-3982. Ticket prices are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors/KU faculty and staff, and $10 for children. KU student tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Group rates are also available.

The creative team is rounded out by Rana Esfandiary, assistant professor in the theatre & dance department, as scenic and costume designer; Trevor Rodgers, a sophomore theatre design major from Olathe, as lighting designer; Kayleigh Shaffer, a senior theatre design major from Olathe, as sound designer; Jenny Sledge Harris, a doctoral student in theatre from Annapolis, Maryland, as assistant director and dramaturg; and Elliot Henry Yochim, a 2016 theatre design graduate from Lawrence, as stage manager.

The following KU students are cast: Hollyanna Mathews, a senior theatre performance major from Bentonville, Arkansas, as #11; Elsa Bernauer, a senior theatre performance and English double major from Leawood, as #25; Chloé Ryan, junior theatre performance major from Sapulpa, Oklahoma, as #13; Stella Garibaldi, a junior theatre performance major from Kansas City, Missouri, as #46; Beth Roth, a sophomore theatre performance and mass communications double major from Jetmore, as #2; Kennedy Brandenburg, a sophomore theatre performance major from Wichita, as #7; Petricia Hall, a junior theatre performance major from Salina, as #14; India MacDonald, a first-year theatre performance major from Topeka, as #8; Katherine Patz, a junior linguistics major from Tulsa, Oklahoma, as #00; and Jillian Branch, a sophomore theatre and creative writing major from Houston, as understudy. Additionally, Laura Kirk, assistant teaching professor in the theatre & dance department and an award-winning filmmaker with credits as producer and actor, plays the Soccer Mom.

Susan Kerner has directed in New York, London, Cambridge, Shanghai and at theatres and universities throughout the United States, including Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Meadow Brook Theatre, George Street Playhouse, Luna Stage, Rutgers University, Fairleigh Dickinson University and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. As resident director at George Street Playhouse, she directed a wide range of classics and new plays. She commissioned and directed the world premiere of “And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank” and marked the 20th anniversary of the award-winning play with a Normal Ave. production in 2016 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park and Jersey City Theatre Center. The Star-Ledger recognized Kerner’s Luna Stage production of “The Old Settler” in NJ's Top Ten of 2010. She won Best Director at the 2014 “Think Fast” One-Act Play Competition. Kerner has staged readings and workshops of new plays in New York City at the Actors Connection and the Anthony Trollope Society and in New Jersey at Luna Stage. She is currently working with A STAGE OF THEIR OWN, a play development project for New Jersey women playwrights. Her recent productions at Montclair State University include “An Ideal Husband,” “Mad Forest,” “Punk Rock,” “Pride and Prejudice,” “Clybourne Park,” “The Big Meal,” “Equus,” “Arcadiaand “The Grapes of Wrath.” Kerner has led international programs for MSU in China, Korea, Austria, Italy, Greece and England. She holds graduate degrees from Columbia University and Boston University, was a Fulbright Scholar in India and is a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers.

The University Theatre is a production wing of KU's theatre & dance department, offering six public productions during the academic year. The productions are funded in part by Student Senate fees and supported by Truity Credit Union. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit KUtheatre.com.

The department is one of three departments in the School of the Arts. As part of the KU College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the School of the Arts offers fresh possibilities for collaboration between the arts and the humanities, sciences, social sciences, international and interdisciplinary studies.

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