Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Interview: Director Shelby Lewis Of THE WOLVES at First Presbyterian Theatre

THE WOLVES opens this weekend and runs through September 26th!

Last week, I had the honor of interviewing Shelby Lewis, director of First Presbyterian Theatre's production of THE WOLVES which opens September 17. THE WOLVES is a contemporary play by Sarah DeLappe, first performed Off-Broadway in 2016 and featuring the story of a teenage girls' soccer team as they warm-up for their games.

A finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, THE WOLVES is a bold, daring play that really captures the issues of today's youth, encapsulated in both humor and emotional depth. Shelby Lewis, the play's director, has collaborated with this young cast of female-identifying actors to bring this stellar show to life for Fort Wayne audiences.

Interview:  Director Shelby Lewis Of THE WOLVES at First Presbyterian Theatre
Madison Garza as 00 in THE WOLVES

"I love that this is a fiercely feminine play," said Lewis, "because it obviously has a female-identifying cast, but also talks about the myriad of veins of what it means to be female. And some are more tomboy, some are super feminine, some are boppy, some are harsh. Each of these characters are in all of everyone, of any gender, but it's nice to have a script that they feel like represents them. And that's also scary for them, because they have to be vulnerable, right?"

The Fort Wayne cast of the soccer team ranges in age from 13 to 21, which is part of the age range that Lewis loves to direct, as she works with high school-aged actors at Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan over the summer. While she typically prefers Shakespeare and does very few contemporary shows, she notes that this play has a complexity to it that gives it some real heft and depth. "This piece felt just as complex and just as character-driven as the Shakespeare plays that I usually work on," she said. "It has been a joy to work with [this cast] and I'm excited for them to show the hard work that they've done, because the script is complex, and it's something unlike what they've ever done before. Most of the plays they've done have been roles for adults that productions then make for kids. But this script is made for 16-17 year old characters." Since the script was designed for them, THE WOLVES gives these young actors the chance to truly explore what it means to be a teenager in 2021. "If I had been able to do this play at 16 or 17, I would have freaked out," said Lewis. "It's so well-written- it feels like literature, and yet it's so modern that it's cool."

She also has a longstanding relationship with First Presbyterian Theatre, although this is her first time directing for them. Lewis's first involvement with First Pres was when she moved to Fort Wayne three years ago and auditioned for Noel Coward's PRESENT LAUGHTER, where she later played the role of Daphne Stillington. Since then, she's felt a strong connection to the theatrical space that First Presbyterian offers. "It's my favorite space in town because of the raked audience seating; everybody has a good seat, and yet it's still intimate... everyone feels like they can get close to the characters mentally and physically. So it was such a joy to perform on as an actor that when they approached me about directing here, I was very excited."

Interview:  Director Shelby Lewis Of THE WOLVES at First Presbyterian Theatre
The show is set during the girls' weekly pre-game warm-ups.

I went on to ask Lewis what excited her most about THE WOLVES in particular. "To have something so raw and authentic, talking about the real feelings we have-- whether they're ugly or beautiful-- those are the real conversations we should be having," she explained. This piece is a bold choice for the season, especially because of its rawness and the language, but it makes perfect sense within the mission statement of First Presbyterian Theatre. "They want to spark conversations, and they want pieces that will serve the community by asking those tough questions." One way that the theatre is working towards that is by offering talk-backs after their Saturday performances, where audiences can ask questions of the director, the cast, or representatives from the Fort Wayne Women's Fund. It's a play that was made to spark discussion, so if you're interested, be sure to catch the Q&A after one of those Saturday shows.

"Because I read the script, I have seen a production of it before and was very moved, I identify with and work with this age group a lot- but there's something about a script being written for them in their voice, that they have confirmed as their voice, that puts me in a place of listening more than anything," said Lewis. Their insights sparked her gratitude for her cast, especially as she notes that they were invested in the show from day one. She said that they were open about their personal connections to certain moments or certain characters though the rehearsal process, and that they were ready for any challenges thrown at them, whether that was the complexity of the script or the literal handling of the soccer balls. "It's what you hope for, as a director- that they take care of the script and that they take care of each other. And this cast is definitely a team."

Be sure to catch THE WOLVES this weekend or during the second weekend of its run, because it'll surely be a show not-to-be-missed.

Interview:  Director Shelby Lewis Of THE WOLVES at First Presbyterian Theatre
The cast of First Presbyterian Theatre's THE WOLVES

THE WOLVES is a 90-minute show with no intermission, and it runs through September 26th (Fridays and Saturdays at 7 pm and Sundays at 2 pm). The Saturday shows include a Q&A panel with Shelby Lewis and the cast, plus a representative from the Fort Wayne Women's Fund, beginning immediately after the end of the show. You can get your tickets on First Presbyterian Theatre's website or by calling the box office at 260-422-4226. First Presbyterian Theatre is located at 300 W. Wayne Street in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

A portion of the proceeds from the ticket sales of THE WOLVES will also be going to the Women's Fund of Greater Fort Wayne. Please be advised that due to the frequent adult language and sensitive topics discussed in this play, the production is rated PG-13 and may not be appropriate for all audiences.



Actors Theatre Of Indiana Offers Black Friday Deal And More Photo
Actors Theatre of Indiana is offering a fantastic Black Friday deal – running from Black Friday through Cyber Monday. ATI also invites the public to donate to ATI on GivingTuesday in order to help ATI continue their goal to enrich the culture of the community by using theatre as a tool for educational engagement.

First Stats Released For The BroadwayWorld Fort Wayne Awards; Fort Wayne Summer Music Thea Photo
The first live standings have been announced for the 2022 BroadwayWorld Fort Wayne Awards! Nominations were reader-submitted and now our readers get to vote for their favorites.

Voting Now Open For The 2022 BroadwayWorld Fort Wayne Awards Photo
Voting is now open for the 2022 BroadwayWorld Fort Wayne Awards! Nominations were reader-submitted and now our readers get to vote for their favorites.

Fort Wayne Youtheatre Presents FROZEN JR. This December Photo
Fort Wayne Youtheatre will once again present the holiday hit Frozen Jr. this December. After such a success in the winter of 2019 followed by the global pandemic, Youtheatre is presenting Frozen Jr. this time with a special emphasis on acceptance.


From This Author - Tara Olivero

Tara Olivero is a freelance writer and theater aficionado from Fort Wayne, with a passion for promoting the arts in northern Indiana. She's previously written for BookRiot, Pique Fort Wayne, an... (read more about this author)


Feature: THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE at Summit City Music TheatreFeature: THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE at Summit City Music Theatre
July 27, 2022

If you're looking for something fun to do this weekend, be sure to make your way over to Summit City Music Theatre's premiere of THE 25th ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE. Directed by Gavin Thomas Drew, this show will be sure to leave you roaring with laughter.

Review: HAIRSPRAY at Fort Wayne Summer Music Theatre is a toe-tapping good timeReview: HAIRSPRAY at Fort Wayne Summer Music Theatre is a toe-tapping good time
July 11, 2022

What did our critic think of HAIRSPRAY at Fort Wayne Summer Music Theatre? The Indiana Music Theatre Foundation is back again with a toe-tapping, fun-filled production of HAIRSPRAY, performed by the Fort Wayne Summer Music Theatre as part of this year's Three Rivers Festival. After last summer's stunning production of LES MISERABLES, I had high expectations for HAIRSPRAY, and I'm happy to report that it did not disappoint.

BWW Review: THE UNSEEN at Playground630BWW Review: THE UNSEEN at Playground630
June 6, 2022

Playground630's thought-provoking production THE UNSEEN runs for one more weekend at PFW's Studio Theatre

BWW Interview:  Director Shelby Lewis Of THE WOLVES at First Presbyterian TheatreBWW Interview: Director Shelby Lewis Of THE WOLVES at First Presbyterian Theatre
September 17, 2021

An interview with director Shelby Lewis of Fort Wayne's premier of THE WOLVES, open now through September 26th.

BWW Review: LITTLE WOMEN at Round Barn TheatreBWW Review: LITTLE WOMEN at Round Barn Theatre
September 13, 2021

A sweet show for the whole family, LITTLE WOMEN runs at the Round Barn Theatre in Nappanee through October 23rd.