Goodbye to #25
After 2 1/12 years of trying to get to play #25 in THE WOLVES, I had the incredible and unforgettable privilege of playing her the past two (far too short) months. Now, I am left with the question: How do I say goodbye so soon? Anyone who knows me well knows how fiercely and deeply I love my characters. I feel the need to honor and protect them. To make sure the audience can understand their stories on a visceral level. It’s something I, for better or for worse, take pretty personally. #25 is deeply passionate young woman. She loves soccer. She wants to be good. She is willing to work her ass off to be good, where it might come easier to others. She loves her team. She wants everyone to work together as a team. She loves this sport. She wants to be great. She wants her team to be great. She wants to be the best version of herself and wants everyone else to be that too. She wants to motivate everyone to want to be great. She may even blame herself when she can’t. There is a moment in the play when #25 is off stage and the other players are gossiping about what she will be up to this weekend; #7 jokes, “Taking a chill pill.” The entire team laughs. When I first saw the play, this simple moment broke my heart. It reminded me of so many things I heard when I was younger: Chill out, calm down, take it easy, why do you care so much, it’s just a game, it’s just a show, relax, you’re so intense, you’re too much.
Her passion might be a turn off for some, and #25 knows this. No matter how much she wants to be a leader, she wants to be accepted, seen, and liked by those around her—a desire further complicated by the blooming understanding of her sexuality and how that may “other” her. That need to embrace her desire to be her unapologetic self while still being liked pulls at her throughout the play in a way that hits close to home for me, and—I imagine—for many women. Even as the adult actor playing her, I admit, at times I was so aware of how she can seem heavy, serious, and by some standards less “likeable” in comparison to characters in the play who can steal the show by procuring laughter from the audience. But ultimately, it is #25 who captures my heart as she blooms on the field and off. What a gift to be able to put on this uniform and tell this amazing young woman’s journey. How important it is to see an LGBTQ character’s journey represented on stage with such nuance and authenticity, and without fuss. How important is it to see all of the young women Sarah DeLappe has crafted in this remarkable play portrayed this way.
I admit that three weeks of performances has felt far too short a time with this character and play. The audiences—whether quiet, attentive, and emotional or full of boisterous laughter—have taught me so much and I feel in some ways I just started to scratch the surface. That, and when you chase something for 2 1/2 years, it’s hard to let go of it so quickly.
This has been the most rewarding artistic moment in my career thus far, not only because of the vitality and importance of Sarah DeLappe’s writing, but because of the people I got to share it with: the welcoming staff at Lyric Stage; our all-female design team—Amanda Mujica, Shelley Barish, Elizabeth Cahill, Karen Perlow, Cesara Walters; soccer consultant Olivia Levine; assistant director and hardest working understudy in the business Christina Mei Chen; stage manager Diane McLean; ASM/backstage HERO Lauren Burke; Tobi Ronaldo, who gave me my buzz cut every night; the most talented Soccer Mom you’ll ever meet, Laura Latreille; my glorious TEAMMATES who challenged and inspired me every step of the way: Sarah Elizabeth Bedard, Jarielle Whitney, Chelsea Evered, Julia Lennon, Grace Experience, Olivia Z. Cote, Lydia Barnett-Mulligan, and Simone Black; and of course, our director A. Nora Long, who created and facilitated the most positive and supportive working environment I’ve been in, and who gave me this opportunity to begin with by being the person to finally say: You made the team—will you wear #25?
Last, but certainly not least, I’m grateful for the audiences we shared this with. The final piece of the puzzle of theater is that audience and we were blessed with engaged and passionate audience members every step of the way.
So how do I say goodbye? I don’t think I’ve answered that question fully just yet. For now, I’m starting with allowing myself to feel gratitude that I even got to be a part of it to begin with.