CATCO’s production of Wolves runs May 4-21 at the Vern Riffe Center in downtown Columbus.

COLUMBUS, OH – KATKOThe season draws to a close as the theater group takes to the stage this week for their production of Wolves.

The play tells the story of how a high school football team not only goes through its season, but also goes through life’s difficulties – both big and small.

“It just gives you a picture of what it’s like to be a teenage girl,” explained Emma Rose Johnson, who plays midfielder No.11 in the play.

Dr. Aviva Neff, director of Wolves, said the play hit her like a tidal wave when she first read the play’s script.

“I thought it was such a compelling tapestry of what it’s like to be a teenager in America, specifically a teenage girl in America,” Neff said. “This show simultaneously shows the triviality of being a teenager, but also the deep seriousness of what it’s like to be a teenager.”

A play, e.g Sarah Delappmade its Off-Broadway debut in 2016.

“I really think about how big things feel at that age because you come across a lot of firsts, good firsts and bad firsts,” said Ollie Warden, who plays No. 25 and captains the team. “I remember when I was in high school, I first encountered a death in my family; I first experienced falling in love. You really get the spectrum of all the ups and downs of this really major first.”

One of the first things many in the cast had to face during rehearsals was learning how to play soccer.

“I actually think I tried to play once when I was six or seven years old,” Worden said.

Likewise, Johnson remembers playing one day before retiring and eventually finding her love for theater.

In order to convincingly embody football players, all nine members of the “Wolves” went through a kind of training camp with local talents.

“The theater is very open to bringing in contractors and experts in what we’re learning,” Neff explained. “So sometimes you have movement coaches who are experienced in tap dance or modern dance; in this case, we have movement coaches who are experts in the game of soccer.”

Neff said the production was fortunate to work with Tatum Adamson and Kawli Siedloski, two members of the Ohio State University women’s soccer team, who came to the play’s rehearsals and taught the actors how to stand, move and play football with confidence and conviction.

“Tatum and Cowley at OSU were absolutely phenomenal,” Worden said. “It was amazing to me because I’ve been training a lot with fight choreography – I’ve been doing swords and daggers – but the feet are a whole different animal and I could just watch them and how comfortable they were with the ball, just distributing their weight, studying their movements and trying to account for it was really, really cool. And they couldn’t be more gracious; we were very grateful to them.”

Despite all the hard work the actors have put in to embody the football cast, the director knows that the true heart of the production lies in embodying the relationships between the young characters.

“I think it’s a play about compassion, and I think it’s a play about compassion for ourselves, maybe for our own inner child,” Neff said. “Whether you identify as a teenage girl or have ever identified as a teenage girl, someone on this show will say something that will make you feel that way in your heart.”

“Personally, I would like the people who represent the man in my life to come and see it,” Johnson said, “because I think it’s very easy for us to stereotype women, especially young women.”

CATCO’s production of Wolves runs May 4-21 at the Riffe Center in downtown Columbus. Show schedules and ticket information can be found here.

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