On Sunday, the Drama Desk Awards bestowed the cast of the off-Broadway production of The Wolves with an award for Outstanding Ensemble. Today, Obie and Drama Desk winner Lauren Patten shares what it felt like to work as a member of that award-winning cast.
"When I first read The Wolves, one thing stood out to me: none of the characters had names. They were known only by the numbers on their soccer jerseys. I spent the first ten or fifteen pages flipping back to the character list to remind myself who was who, but soon each character formed into a distinct, three-dimensional person whom I could distinguish by their voice alone. This is the feat of Sarah DeLappe's writing. She created ten complex, messy, utterly real women, all equal in their contribution to the team."
"From day one of rehearsal, it was clear our goal was to serve the team. Everyone was on equal footing, no better and no worse; there were no stars, no leads and no supporting characters. As the captain, my character was obsessed with the idea of "the team," desperately trying to get everyone to work together to win the game, to get to nationals. That mindset rubbed off on me. If we didn't work together as a unit, I knew we would be doing the play a major disservice. Luckily, I had it much easier with my fellow actors than #25 did with her teammates."
"Receiving the Obie Award and the Drama Desk for our ensemble work was an incredible honor. I am grateful not just for the recognition of our work, but for the recognition of ensemble work in general. It's incredible to me that awards like the Tony Awards don't have an ensemble award. The selflessness, the empathy, and the willingness it takes for a group of actors to gel into a team, a unified cast, is one of the great challenges and joys of the theatre. Just look at the ensembles of this season's plays: Indecent, The Little Foxes, Oslo, Sweat, Six Degrees of Separation, Present Laughter - just to name a few. And then, to think of the ensembles of musicals! Those people work their asses off. They are dancing like crazy, taking on multiple different characters, and belting for their life every night. We need to celebrate their work. I know I'm in awe of their talent and their drive."
"So next time you go to the theatre, don't think about the name on the marquee, or the person you recognize from TV. Take a moment and think about how that entire group of actors has gotten together, put aside their egos and their fears, and made the decision to serve this one story - a story they so deeply want to share with you. Take a moment to bask in the beauty of that."
Listen to our episode on Ensemblists in Plays here.