A reflection on KinkADE Underground’s “The Wolves”

Sanjna Pandit, Guest Writer

After months of planning, auditioning, casting and rehearsals, Sarah Delappe’s exhilarating play, “The Wolves,” came to life for the Kinkaid community. 

From the first read-through to curtain call seven weeks later, the process was nothing short of incredible. The excitement of performing live after a year of virtual shows was palpable. 

For some, “The Wolves” was their last school fall production, and for others, it was their first. Some took on double roles, including sophomore Chloe Wilson who was an understudy and assistant stage manager and junior Adam Behr who was the stage manager and lighting designer. Most notably, athletics and performing arts came together in a stunning visual. The soccer ball, taking center stage in the Black Box theatre, represented a little bit of us all. 

It’s only appropriate to give a huge shout-out to Coach Cassidy Williams, the person responsible for all things soccer in “The Wolves.” We spent the first few weeks of rehearsal getting comfortable with the ball, like dribbling it around and using different parts of the foot. Initially, we felt unsure of managing the ball while spitting out lines, but Coach Williams’ encouragement and advice helped us grow confidence. 

“You all have grown phenomenally, and I’m so proud of you. I’m so excited for others to see the work you have put in,” she told us before the show.  

We all left for our dressing rooms smiling wide. Besides coaching us on the technicality of the sport, Coach Williams provided keen insight. Her passion and respect made for a fruitful and fun experience. 

Ms. Frances Limoncelli, director of “The Wolves” remembered the first time we tried soccer and speech simultaneously. 

“One memorable rehearsal was when we combined dialogue with a complicated soccer passing drill,” she said. “It was a hard rehearsal. We struggled, got confused, action stalled, frustrations rose and exhaustion was high. But the cast worked through each obstacle by sheer force of will. When we made it through to the dramatic end of that scene, there was a moment of silence before I whispered, ‘blackout.’ The team whooped and cheered and jumped up and down. That’s when I knew that the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. They were a team, and we had a show.” 

Running from volleyball practice and grabbing a quick bite before rehearsal every day was no walk in the park; however, I felt very much at home in this production. I began playing soccer at age 5 and the sport has stuck with me ever since; therefore, my interest arose when I found out that the KinkADE Underground revolved around a soccer team. 

What I did not anticipate was the degree of influence my athletic career had on my role. I looked back on my club soccer teammates’ experiences and brought those memories into certain scenes. When I saw my castmates in uniform (costume, I should say) I thought that we looked like a soccer team, with different backgrounds, different opinions and different lifestyles, but with the same blue jersey and black shorts. We were one. 

From an actor standpoint, I have never worked on a more complex performance than “The Wolves.” The script was an imitation of real-life conversations: messy, overlapping, meaty. 

Ms. Limoncelli spoke on the structure. 

“This script is at once very naturalistic and very musical,” she said. The playwright captured the cacophonous rhythms of a group of high-energy high schoolers and created overlapping dialogues timed almost like music. Getting this right, along with the soccer skills, was the biggest challenge we faced.” 

Ms. Limoncelli didn’t let this challenge deter her vision. She fine-tuned the dialogue and listened for the flow of the characters’ conversations; she gave cast members the space to talk over and clarify notes. The relationship between actor and director never felt more important, and Ms. Limoncelli was gracious in sharing the praise. 

“I tried to break down our process into many small steps so the cast wouldn’t get discouraged and could track their gradual progress forward,” she said. “But it wouldn’t have worked if each of them hadn’t been passionate about achieving excellence. They brought their whole selves to the endeavor, and that is what made the play come to life.”

The day all lines were memorized made for a celebratory occasion. Anything felt possible. 

Senior Anna Duarte, who played the role of #8, could not agree more. 

“I’d say the peak was learning all my lines and cues,” she said. “And the pit would be the stumble-throughs where we stopped and started.” 

Indeed, the stopping and starting when we first learned our scenes took away the momentum and made it harder to get into our characters. But we knew that once we cleared those roadblocks with repetition, we would naturally breathe life into the play. We also learned the value of speeding through scenes without acting or pausing, which served as a pre-show energizer.

There were also some powerful moments in the play. 

For senior Laxmi Thakkar, who played the role of #00, her solo toward the end resonated with her. 

“My peak was working through my big scene and channeling my emotions from my personal life into my character’s scene,” she said.

 I’ll never forget the first time the rest of us saw her in that scene: it was a mixture of magnificence and sadness. 

Senior Carolyn Bivins, who played the role of #2, spoke about another emotional scene. 

“It was the first time Adele Johnson did her monologue, and everyone cried, even those that were onstage,” Bivins said.

We marveled at each other in these moments, when emotions and the authentic atmosphere carried the story.