Ellie chats to Sarah Middleton, the writer of SHEWOLVES – a new female-led coming-of-age production coming to Southwark Playhouse later this month. 

SHEWOLVES had an amazing run at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival as well as a
successful UK tour – how are you feeling ahead of its opening at the Southwark Playhouse
this summer?

We’re so excited to bring SHEWOLVES to Southwark Playhouse – to be in the same
building for three weeks is a treat after a lot of touring, and we’re excited to share the
play with London audiences.

Without spoiling anything, could you tell us a little about the play?

SHEWOLVES is about two teenage girls from Derby who run away into the Peak
District. They overcome their differences and learn to raise their voices together. It’s
a funny, female-led love letter to teenage rebellion.

How did you find creating the characters of Priya and Lou?

We’ve spent three years developing the play and getting to know the Priya and Lou.
There are only two characters on stage in the play – they have to feel like authentic
contemporary teenagers. Director Hannah Stone and I worked with teens in the
Midlands to develop the characters and their voices, and dramaturg Tilly Branson
helped us explore what drives the characters and how to shape their adventure.

How important is it to you to create female led narratives in your work?

Only 30% of main stage plays in the UK in 2022 were written by women, and this is
often reflected by a lack of juicy female roles. Change is coming, though – so it’s an
exciting time to be writing female-led work. As a company our aim is to make new
writing that challenges gender norms and empowers audiences. It’s been fun to write
something that explores how smart and resourceful teenage girls are. And
personally, I’m obsessed with writing snacks into shows. Women eat snacks – we
don’t see enough of that on stage. I’m happy to say there are a lot of food references
and fart jokes in SHEWOLVES.

As a current playwriting student myself, I’d love to know if you have any advice for new
writers trying to make a place for themselves in theatre today.

Find your people and identify your audience. Collaboration can make or break a
project. If you’re working with fantastic artists and you have a shared aim for a
project, you’ll hold each other accountable and together you’ll make it happen. Also,
get good at writing Arts Council Funding bids and connect to your local theatres.

Who do you think this play will connect to the most?

I hope we can connect to audiences who want to feel empowered and uplifted, and
who want to use their voices to make change in their lives.

Finally, why should audiences buy tickets to SHEWOLVES?

It’s an uplifting love letter to teenage life. An ideal theatre trip for teens, anyone who
ever was a teen, and anyone who cares about teens. You’ll leave the theatre
cheering, feeling empowered, and probably craving a Pop-Tart.

SHEWOLVES will play at Southwark Playhouse from 21 June – 8 July 2023. To
book, visit

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