Photo Flash: Echo Theater Company Presents THE WOLVES
Fierce. Funny. Intense. The Echo Theater Company opens its 2019 season with theLos Angeles premiere of The Wolves, the debut play by "playwright to watch" Sarah DeLappe that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Alana Dietze (Dry Land) directs for aMarch 16 opening at Atwater Village Theatre. Pay-what-you-want previews begin March 13, and performances continue through April 22.
From the safety of their suburban stretch circle, these 16- and 17-year-olds navigate big questions and wage tiny battles with the ferociousness of a pack of adolescent warriors. There's super-cool #7, the striker (Katherine Cronyn); skinny, kind #2 (Minzi) and childlike #8 (Ellen Neary), both on defense; three midfielders: brainy #11 (Troy Leigh-Anne Johnson), stoner girl #13 (Jacqueline Besson) and #7's insecure sidekick, #14 (Donna Zadeh). Goalie #00 (Makeda Declet) is an anxious perfectionist, and the awkward new girl, #46 (Caitlin Zambito), is just trying to fit in. Team captain, #25 (Connor Kelly-Eiding), does her best to keep the girls focused on the game, and Soccer Mom (Alison Martin) provides the orange slices.
"When you're 16 and 17, everything is such a big deal," says Dietze. "This play is an emotional powerhouse because everything in these girls lives so close to the surface. That vulnerable state is compounded by the physical demands of the play for both actor and character - it's visceral, dynamic and exciting to witness."
According to the playwright, "I wanted to see a portrait of teenage girls as human beings - as complicated, nuanced, very idiosyncratic people who weren't just girlfriends or sex objects or manic pixie dream girl, but who were athletes and daughters and students and scholars and people who were trying actively to figure out who they were in this changing world around them."
The Wolves is DeLappe's first produced play. It premiered in 2016 at off-Broadway's The Duke at 42nd Street as a Playwrights Realm production in association with New York Stage & Film and Vassar's Powerhouse Theatre, where it enjoyed a sold-out run and transferred to Lincoln Center the following year. It was a co-winner of the American Playwriting Foundation's inaugural Relentless Award and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and the Yale Drama Series Prize. The Pulitzer committee describes it as "a timely play about a girls' high school soccer team that illuminates with the unmistakable ping of reality the way young selves are formed when innate character clashes with external challenges." In his New York Times"Critic's Pick" review, theater critic Ben Brantley calls it "A thrilling debut play... theater that keeps you on the edge of your seat."
The Echo's creative team includes set designer Amanda Knehans, lighting designer Rose Malone, sound designer Jeff Gardner, costume designer Elena Flores and graphic designerChristopher Komuro. The production stage manager is Anna Klevit. Chris Fields andRachael Zambias produce for the Echo Theater Company.
Founded in 1997 and dedicated to producing new work, the Echo Theater Company was anointed "Best Bet for Ballsy Original Plays" by the LA Weekly in its 2014 Best of L.A. issue and was a recipient of a 2016 "Kilroy Cake Drop"- one of only 13 theaters in the country to be surprised by cakes to honor the efforts they are making to produce women and trans writers. In the Los Angeles Times, theater critic Charles McNulty wrote, "Echo Theater Company, which has cultivated a community of top flight actors, would be my go-to place in Los Angeles for symbiotic ensemble acting... Artistic directors of theaters of all sizes would be wise to follow the [lead] of the Echo's Chris Fields, who [is] building audience communities eager for the challenge of path-breaking plays." KCRW's Anthony Byrnes stated, "Echo Theater Company is on a fierce journey. They're choosing plays that are consistently challenging and all have a deep conscience... The body of work that Echo is building is substantial. If you wanted to pick one small theater to add to your cultural roster - Echo is a consistent favorite." The company's most recent production, the West Coast premiere of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' Pulitzer Prize finalist play Gloria, was named to the Los Angeles Times' "Best of 2018" list, and both Gloria and last season's West Coast premiere of Cry It Out by Molly Smith Metzler made KCRW's "Best of 2018" list. Cry It Out was also the recipient of two Ovation Awards, for best production and playwriting.
The Wolves opens on Saturday, March 16, with performances continuing on Fridays andSaturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 4 p.m.; and Mondays at 8 p.m. through April 22. Three preview performances are set for Wednesday, March 13; Thursday, March 14; and Friday, March 15, all at 8 p.m. Tickets are $34 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays; Monday night performances are $20 in advance, and Pay-What-You-Want at the door (subject to availability).Atwater Village Theatre is located at 3269 Casitas Ave in Los Angeles, CA 90039. On-site parking is free. For reservations and information, call (310) 307-3753 or go towww.EchoTheaterCompany.com.
Photo Credit: Darrett Sanders
Connor Kelly-Eiding, Makeda Declet