Women of “The Wolves”

 

Photography by Jacqueline Harriet

November 8th, 2017

 

Last fall, one of the hottest tickets in town was to The Wolves, a new play by Sarah DeLappe and directed by Lila Neugebauer about an all-girls high school soccer team. Despite the ubiquity of teen girls as cultural bellwethers, there was still some surprise that a play about teen girls could be so popular with so many different people. Now, after two sold out runs, The Wolves is back—this time at Lincoln Center Theater. Over the next nine weeks, we’ll be speaking with the actresses who make up the team of The Wolves. Check back every Wednesday for more with the cast!

This week we talk to Samia Finnerty. And be sure to check out last week’s chat with Brenna Coates.

 

Samia Finnerty

Samia Finnerty

 

Since you’ve been with the show for a long time, what’s been the most interesting thing to you about that experience?
I think the most exciting thing to see throughout the different iterations has been the way the cast has grown into an actual team in the way that we’ve stayed in contact when we’re not currently in a run. The way that we are excited to see each other after a long time in a very familial way is totally reminiscent to me of the kind of team dynamic we’re trying to portray in this show. I think a lot of that is due to how many times we’ve actually done this play together.

What do you find to be the most interesting thing about your character, and has that changed over time?
I deeply relate to my character in a lot of ways because she, for me, represents the most vulnerable and insecure part of myself. I think that’s something a lot of people can relate to, regardless of how confident they feel socially on a daily basis. I think the most potent thing that I’ve learned so far about my character that’s helped me the most is that regardless of her inability to express herself thoroughly all the time, she’s actually incredibly substantial and funny and interesting. Even though she seems to sort of lack her own identity, there’s a lot going on there. I think that’s what’s made me be able to stay in love with her throughout the iterations.

The Wolves has an all-female cast, and a female director and writer. What has it been like working with such a big group of women?
It’s wonderful. It’s really great. Everyone feels comfortable, and I think we understand each other on a deep level. I think part of the benefit to having mostly women in the cast and crew is being inspired by each other every day and wanting to follow in each other’s footsteps in making each other better.

What do you think the theatre community can do to have more stories by and about women on stage?
I think there are so many stories to be told about women because we are most of the population. I think every woman has a story, and it’s about choosing stories by women about women. I really think there’s just so much opportunity for stories about women to be told, and they’re very interesting. We were just in the dressing room listening to songs about brotherhood sung by women, and I thought that could be an interesting parallel in the theatre, just looking at all of the famous and important stories about brotherhood and seeing what they would be like if they were flipped on their head and told by women about women.

What’s your relationship like with ambition?
I have a myriad of ambitious women in my family. I grew up with ambition as a household principle, and so that drive for achievement was never a question for me. I just knew that that was part of my identity in growing up and who I wanted to be as a woman and as a person in the world—someone with a lot of goals.

What’s something that you’ve learned from working with castmate Sarah Mezzanotte?
I’ve learned so much from working with Sarah. I think Sarah is one of the most poised human beings I’ve ever met, and she exhibits the virtue of patience on a daily basis and that’s been inspiring to see. She’s unconditionally kind to everyone around her, and I think that informs her performance as well. I think I’ve learned a lot from her, both on the human side and the acting side on a daily basis.

 

Sarah Mezzanotte and Samia Finnerty

 

Brenna Coates

Brenna Coates

 

Since you’ve been with the show for a long time, what’s been the most interesting thing to you about that experience?
It’s been incredible. To say that I’m grateful would be a huge understatement. I’ve been with The Wolves for two and a half years now. It’s pretty remarkable to look back and think that I’ve kind of figured out how to be a professional actor and how to be a woman in this industry through this one play. I feel really, really lucky to be surrounded by the group of women I’m going through this with. I think the one thing that stayed a constant is my love for every single one of them and how much I learn from them every single day by sharing the stage with them. I think the one thing that still surprises me is that the response to this play has been so massive. I just think there hasn’t been any play like this before, and I want to know why. Like, why did it take the world so long to write a play that is about all women? We should have been doing this a long time ago. Do you know what I mean?

What do you find to be the most interesting thing about your character and has that changed over time?
I love playing her. She’s a 16, almost 17 year old, who has an insane amount of confidence and it sometimes verges on entitlement. But she definitely traffics in power and intensity. If you know me, those are things that I do not do, and certainly did not at that age. I remember being 16 and 17 years old and thinking, “Teenagehood is nearly impossible to survive.” I think the thing I just absolutely love about Number Seven is how she’s so certain she will survive it. I think it’s really empowering and I think that needs to be seen more.

The Wolves has an all-female cast and female director and writer. What has it been like working with such a big group of women?
Fucking electric. It’s been beautiful; they’re just my family, they really are. There’s profound love between us every single day. It’s not that we necessarily need to say this out loud, we just know it walking into that room every single day, being surrounded by women when the world is so bleak right now, and so sexist, and waking up every single morning to the news that comes out, we just feel this insane amount of love and respect for each other. We’re just really grateful that we get to be around each other.

What do you think the theatre community can do to have more stories by and about women on stage?
Just let us take over. Give it up. Just give it up. We just need to put women in higher positions. We need to fill these theatre roles with women. We need to stop seeing women as either objects of sex or being threatened by powerful women. We need to let women take over completely.

What’s your relationship like with ambition?
I’ve known that I wanted to be an actor since I was five years old. I think that when you know something about yourself and there’s no other option, no Plan B, you’re just driven by it 100%. There’s nothing else. You don’t want anything else to stand in your way. I’ve been really lucky, I’ve been supported my whole life. My family supports me in everything I do. That has definitely helped. I would say I get more ambitious each and every day, and it definitely has to do with being surrounded by these women in The Wolves. Some people are so, so ambitious. I’m definitely more of a chill person, but with that being said, I know what I want and I know who I want to be in this life and I don’t think that anyone’s going to stop me.

What’s something that you’ve learned from working with castmate Samia Finnerty?
She is my favorite person in the world. She’s one of the most talented human beings ever. Her intellectual grasp on this character is kind of crazy. She is also one of the funniest human beings I’ve ever met in my entire life. I think she leads with her heart and she’s so kind and she really sees the beauty in every single person. I think that in this industry when you’re kind of seen as interchangeable, qualities like that are really, really special and she’s teaching me to do that every time I hang out with her.

 

Brenna Coates and Samia Finnerty