Five years in a row, sophomore acting major Parker Hickey said she moved schools and struggled to make connections with students in her new surroundings.
Because of this experience, Hickey said she relates to her character, soccer player #46 — the new girl on the soccer team — in the Department of Theatre and Dance’s upcoming production of the play, “The Wolves.”
“There is something so interesting about putting myself in #46’s head and seeing these girls in their natural environment with complete ignorance,” Hickey said. “I really admire the way she is not afraid to ask questions and cares so much for the other girls on the [soccer] team, even when they aren’t so nice to her.”
To prepare to portray members of a high school girls’ soccer team, Hickey and eight other Ball State theater students spent nearly 100 hours performing their lines and honing in their soccer skills for the play. During one rehearsal, they even practiced soccer drills with Ball State's team.
As soccer player #2, junior acting major Kristin Thomas said the audition for her role consisted of not only soccer drills but also how well she could play soccer with other actors. Because the movements are incorporated alongside the characters’ dialogue, it was important to cast actors who could do both, she said.
“This is the most technically challenging show I have been in,” Thomas said. “Navigating that as an actor was something I was just really not prepared for.”
Because performances will be in Strother Theatre, director Jennifer Blackmer said the audience will feel as though they’re on the field with the soccer players.
“We have to put a warning in the program about rogue soccer balls — the action is that close,” Blackmer said. “The intimacy of Strother makes it my favorite place to direct. The actors are right in front of you, and that makes the story immediate and intense.”
While spending their scenes stretching and warming up as a team, the play’s characters explore several experiences and issues they face, such as grief, friendship dynamics and having a sense of purpose.
“[“The Wolves” is] a fly-on-the-wall view of the lives of nine soccer players as they battle womanhood, self-worth, their beliefs and the political atmosphere,” Hickey said.
Because Blackmer studied plays in college written primarily by white men, she said she is grateful she can give women’s “truly unique” experiences a voice on stage by directing “The Wolves.”
“I look forward to a day when this isn't a new thing, when the white male voice isn't still regarded as somehow the default, when all stories can exist alongside each other to reveal the true depth and diversity of the human condition,” Blackmer said.
Growing up, Blackmer said the portrayals of women in movies she watched, such as “Pretty in Pink” and “Sixteen Candles,” set unrealistic expectations for teenagers and perpetuated harmful stereotypes, but “The Wolves” tells a different story to its audience.
“I was lucky in that my mother was an incredible force in my life,” Blackmer said “She helped me through my adolescence better than anyone could have. I have two preteen daughters now, and I hope that I'm making myself as available to them as my mom was for me. I'm also bringing them with me ... to opening night of “The Wolves” because I know this play will speak to them in a way that I can't, which is a very good thing.”
To view the entire gallery of photos for "The Wolves," visit bytebsu.com.