A few fast facts about Sarah DeLappe, whose The Wolves, a play about a girls’ soccer team in suburban America, is about to start rehearsals at LCT. She grew up in Reno, Nevada, where she played soccer from 8 to 14. She has a twin sister, who attends Mt. Sinai Medical School, in New York. She went to Yale, where she eventually developed a passion for the theater, a discovery encouraged by that superlative mentor of dramatists: Paula Vogel.
“I became obsessed with writing plays,” DeLappe told me the other day. But aspiration requires work to succeed, and DeLappe’s apprenticeship, she said, included a post-Yale period of “terrible writing.”
Her dramaturgy improved. By the time she started writing The Wolves, which received acclaim off-Broadway last year and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize this year, DeLappe had developed a systematic method of composition. “I wrote the play in silence, in the middle of the night, when most of my roommates” – they live in Brooklyn – “were sleeping.” DeLappe added: “My desk was littered with charts, which tracked action and character traits. The writing was like cooking – a bit of parsley here, a sprig of rosemary there.” DeLappe went on: “I also thought of the writing as music, an orchestration for 9 voices, each representing one of the girls.” DeLappe said she doesn’t write while listening to music, however. “It distracts me from the voices I’m trying to hear in my head.”
The Wolves takes place during the girls’ warm-ups. “I was attracted,” said De Lappe, “to the idea of a stage where we were watching young women whose bodies were active throughout.” DeLappe said that she is hungry for narratives with strong female protagonists, and that she sees The Wolves as a story about women warriors. “I was inspired to think of these characters as a pack preparing for battle.”
DeLappe’s interest in soccer was ignited by watching the women’s World Cup in 1999, when she was a child. “I have this memory, which is planted in the play, of that championship game, which the Americans won and which led to Brandi Chastain tearing off her shirt and sinking to her knees. I’d never seen something like that on TV before – a major moment when a woman celebrated her victory and her strength with an action borrowed from the male hero.”
Brendan Lemon is the editor of lemonwade.com.