When I set out to write a piece on The Little Foxes, I headed right to the Drama Book Shopin New York City, to browse and research all things Lillian Hellman. Shockingly, there were no biographies of her in stock or on order. She was not even included in the Drama Book Shop’s most basic book series outlining the lives of accomplished American playwrights. I perused Barnes and Noble and independent bookstores with large theatre sections, but all to no avail. The most recent Hellman biography (less than five years old and provocatively titled A Difficult Woman) was even hard to obtain on Amazon; I had to purchase it through a third party seller. Not only are Hellman biographies in short supply, so too are Hellman revivals. Her plays have only been brought back to Broadway six times total, as opposed to the 25 Broadway revivals for Arthur Miller, or the 31 Broadway revivals for Tennessee Williams. To this day, she has never won a Best Play or Best Revival of a Play Tony Award. The sixth and current Hellman revival is of her most acclaimed play, The Little Foxes, which is about the unconventional Southern matriarch Regina Giddens, who manipulates her brothers’ moneymaking scheme with grit, ambition, and business acumen.
We sat down with Director A. Nora Long to learn what makes The Wolves one of the most impressive new plays in recent years!
Why is this play important?
There are few groups as universally-maligned as teenage girls. The vast majority of our pop culture representations portray them as vain, shallow, cruel, and vapid. Delappe affords us a nuanced, funny, thoughtful insight into the lives of young women, as they wrestle through the rather fraught process of growing-up, focusing on their humanity, in all its wonders and flaws, and their athleticism. Make no mistake, this is a play about a team of competitive athletes. These players are seeking immediate victories but also future security and college scholarships. Like soldiers preparing for battle, we see our heroes in moments of vulnerability and triumph, brash confidence and blistering defeat. And they keep coming back each Saturday for another shot at glory. It is a story of perseverance in the face of adversity, a celebration of the human spirit, and a showcase of the extraordinary abilities of the body. In short, it is a great fucking play.
Why is the Lyric Stage the right fit for this play?
Young women are, by far, the largest demographic in the local casting pool. After spending years seeing thousands of brilliant actors for the odd part as the girlfriend, the daughter, or the broad in the tower, finding a beautiful story that plays to our community’s strengths was an obvious fit for Lyric Stage’s long-standing commitment to local artists. Lyric audiences have always prized rich, character-driven stories that offer them a unique perspective on the world. The Wolves is an astonishing play that does all that and more. Also, where else can you get the feeling of sitting pitch-side at the City Sports Dome indoor soccer field arena?
Why is this play important to do now?
It’s always the right time to do great plays, but as the national conversation seeks to be more inclusive of the experiences of under-represented groups, a play about young women as human beings and athletes feels particularly of the moment. If the future is female, have no doubt, the future is coming.
Left quad. Right quad. Lunge. A girls’ indoor soccer team warms up. From the safety of their suburban stretch circle, the team navigates big questions and wages tiny battles with all the vigor of a pack of adolescent warriors. As the author says, “I wanted to see a portrait of teenage girls as human beings – as complicated, nuanced, very idiosyncratic people, athletes and daughters and students and scholars and people who are trying actively to figure out who they are in this changing world around them.”