ISU Theatre’s “The Wolves” shares the fighting spirit of a teen girls’ soccer team

CATEGORIES: News, Students
soccer players in a huddle
An ensemble cast will present ISU Theatre's "The Wolves," opening Feb. 28 in Fisher Theater.


What happens inside the warm-up circle of a competitive high school girls soccer team? ISU Theatre’s “The Wolves” invites audiences to eavesdrop on teenage conversations both profound and hilarious as a soccer team navigates big questions and wages tiny battles during six weeks of practice.

A 2017 Pulitzer Prize finalist in drama penned by Sarah DeLappe, “The Wolves” is part of ISU Theatre’s 2019-20 “HERoic” season of shows written by women. The production’s all-female ensemble portrays nine players, known by jersey numbers rather than names, and one “soccer mom.”

“A lot of the shows we create at Iowa State have an ensemble cast, but it’s rare for it to be written into the script,” said Taylor Millar, a 2017 performing arts alumna and the show’s guest director. “Every character is onstage for almost the entire show. Not very often do we see a team portrayed on stage other than when we create it.”

On a surrealist soccer field, created by scenic designer and ISU alumna Eleanor Kahn (’08 architecture, performing arts), the team faces the awkward transition from adolescence to maturity.

“When I read the script for the first time, it was a lot of nostalgia about being naïve and the experience of growing up,” said Jillian Kurovski (‘20 animal ecology), who plays the role of No. 14. “It brought me back to memories of the struggles of being a teenage girl.”

Tackling tough timing

To mimic teenage conversations, the show employs rapid-fire, overlapping dialogue with conversations that ricochet from tampons to the Khmer Rouge.

“Knowing when to say the line at the right moment and getting into the rhythm of saying the lines has been a challenge,” said Opal Rustad (’22 performing arts), who plays the bubbly, conflict-averse character No. 8.

“Every time you see it, you’ll want to listen to a different conversation,” Millar said. “Come for the dialogue. Come for the discoveries you’ll make.”

The teenage drama is both intense—the show contains a content advisory for adult language and mature content—and endearingly comedic.

“I don’t think people typically think high school girls are very funny, but they say so many things that are hysterical and deep,” Millar said. “They talk about real-life issues and they’re not uninformed.”

Soccer drills on stage

Soccer team on practice field
Jensen Wilke, sophomore in speech communication, plays No. 46, a new member of the team who has lived around the world. Wilke’s character faces the challenge of fitting in to the elite world of competitive soccer.

Portraying a soccer team on stage required the cast to learn basic soccer fundamentals, as well as build their physical stamina. Millar brought in a friend to teach both soccer drills and team dynamics.

Abi Fisher (‘22 performing arts) plays the team captain No. 25. She said the cast’s journey to learn soccer together has been an “adventure.”

“A lot of us have never played soccer before,” she said. “We learned some passing drills and started feeling more and more comfortable with the soccer ball. We had a rule that for every runaway ball during our warm-ups and run-throughs, we had to run one lap around the theater. It got our focus on point!”

Life lessons

Ellie Seaton (’20 performing arts, public relations) who plays No. 7, a drama-causing bully, said she hopes audiences learn it is okay to cringe at their past selves.

“Nobody grows up having done absolutely nothing that they will regret later,” she said. “Life is really about how you change and grow. No. 7 starts the show not knowing how to play well with the others. By the end, she has been put in situations that make her more mature.”

Theatre and athletics both offer lessons that are lifelong, Millar said.

“Theatre makes you better at a million different things,” she said. “Whatever you do it’s always a really important part of your life’s journey. This isn’t to get better at theatre. It’s to get better at life.”

Panel discussion with local educators, guest artists

ISU Theatre will present a panel discussion, “Diversifying the Wolfpack: Championing Gender Equity in the Arts and Athletics,” on Sunday, March 1 at 3:00 p.m. in 004 Scheman Building. Community members are invited to enjoy refreshments and engage in a roundtable discussion with local, regional and national artists and scholars as part of ISU Theatre’s year-long symposium series, “HERoic: Gender Equity in the Arts.”

This event is sponsored by the Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities.

Cast, creative team and performances

“The Wolves” evening performances are Feb. 28, 29, March 5, 6 and 7 at 7:30 p.m. A matinee performance will be held March 1 at 1:00 p.m. All performances are in Fisher Theater.

Tickets ($20 for adults, $18 for seniors and $10 for students) are available through the Stephens Auditorium ticket office, Ticketmaster or the Fisher Theater box office prior to performances. Please be aware this show contains adult language and mature content.

The cast includes:

  • #11 – Tigerlily Sorenson
  • #13 – Lillie Anderson
  • #46 – Jensen Wilke
  • #2 – Jill Riker
  • #7 – Ellie Seaton
  • #14 – Jillian Kurovski
  • #8 – Opal Rustad
  • #00 – Lena Menefee-Cook
  • Soccer Mom – Morgan Mulford
  • #25 – Abi Fisher

The creative team includes:

  • Director – Taylor Millar
  • Assistant director – Roger Rivera
  • Scenic designer – Eleanor Kahn
  • Costume designer – Kelly Marie Schaefer
  • Stage manager – Sydni Lapsley
  • Assistant stage manager – Alex Brown
  • Lighting designer – Jared Rickard
  • Props designer – Natalie Hining
  • Sound designer – TeAnna Besougloff

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to participate in all ISU Theatre events. If you require a reasonable accommodation to do so, please contact ISU Theatre at least one week prior to the event. 

For more information, visit, email or call 515-294-2624. ISU Theatre is funded by ISU Student Government and supported by the Transforming Liberal Arts and Sciences Endowment.

About ISU Theatre

As a part of the Iowa State University Department of Music and Theatre, ISU Theatre seeks to empower citizen artistry by engaging students and the community in transformative theatre and performing arts experiences which examine the human condition, encourage lifelong learning, teach artistic skills, prepare professionals, inspire empathy, explore creativity, build relationships and embrace diversity. ISU Theatre administers a major and minor in performing arts and produces multiple theatre and performing arts productions throughout the year featuring performers, designers and technicians from throughout the university.

The ISU Theatre CoLab Initiative seeks to foster collaboration and engagement between ISU Theatre and other groups both within ISU’s campus and throughout the broader community to create citizen artistry, inspire and be inspired by meaningful public discourse and expand opportunities for ISU students, faculty and staff.

For more information, visit