Entering Sacred Heart Preparatory (SHP) as a freshman, Anne-Sophie Lacombe Garcia didn’t expect to land the lead role in The Crucible. “Before that, I always wanted to pursue drama, but I would get roles like, ‘tree number three,’ and my parents would say, ‘great for you!’,” Lacombe says with a laugh and a hint of sarcasm. “It was getting that lead and having the drama teacher tell me, ‘you could really do something with this,” when I realized, ‘oh, I really could.’”
Lacombe’s keen sense of comedic timing, a voice that could belt out showtunes, and a close-knit “drama club family” of friends saw her through production after production at SHP; acting became her passion, and by junior year she was set on studying theater in college. While sifting through scripts for monologues to use during the college application process, Lacombe landed on a newer play, The Wolves, by Sarah DeLappe, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2017 and DeLappe’s first professionally-produced play.
“I remember just being so in love with it. I’ve learned from reading so many plays that I can easily identify the ones I really vibe with, and those I don’t,” said Lacombe. “There’s this new wave of playwrights that are finding completely new ways of writing and thinking about theater, and Sarah DeLappe is one of those people.”
The Wolves is about a teenage girls’ indoor soccer team of the same name, with a cast of 10 comprising nine players and one “soccer mom.” Throughout the play, the cast are engaged in synchronous, almost militaristic warm-ups while standing in a semi-circle. Depending on where they are seated, audience members hear a different conversation happening. The characters, who have no names and instead go by their jersey numbers, are well-developed, with revelations about their lives that get teased out of the sometimes-comedic scenes. “It’s a comedy until it isn’t,” Lacombe says of the play. “The playwright has an honest and genuine way of moving the conversation from events in history, or gossip, and slowly getting deeper and deeper to the point where you see their true character shine through.”
After reading the script, Lacombe decided it was the perfect vehicle for taking the next step in her drama career. In January 2020, Lacombe began assembling her plan and proposal to direct the play, with the support of SHP drama teacher Jeffrey Adams as faculty advisor. But then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and the school moved to remote learning. Despite it all, Lacombe kept her plans alive while waiting to see how the pandemic would unfold. A little under a year later she was able to move forward with a production, committing to the project for no school credit and in addition to her regular studies.
“It all happened so quickly—I submitted a synopsis to administration in January, it got approved, and we launched right in,” said Lacombe.
After recruiting a student assistant director and a stage manager, Lacombe opened up auditions. “Since there weren’t really any drama opportunities for underclassmen this semester, including juniors, I wanted to make sure I cast only underclassmen,” she said.
The cast met three days a week for rehearsals through April, and with a limited budget via the drama club, Lacombe had to get creative with set design, costumes, and props. “All the girls are very, very dedicated to this production. I had some who have played soccer bring their soccer balls in for props… And Mr. E (Sacred Heart Schools’ technical director of performing arts) created a very simple ‘backstage’ using a roll of AstroTurf,” said Lacombe.
Relying on her acting experience, Lacombe found her footing as a director unafraid to be “as quirky as possible,” and set a tone that would help draw out the best performance from each actor. “Before this experience, what I thought of directing was that you’re giving them an action and telling them what to do, but really you just plant a seed so they can experiment and come up with ideas. It’s a very collaborative process,” she said.
With this directorial debut, Lacombe feels prepared for Northwestern University, where she is headed in the fall to join the theater department. “I’m looking forward to studying drama and possibly double-majoring in poli-sci—I’m not sure yet. I love that I’m going to be able to pursue theater and also have a whole range of other fields to explore.”