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Sarah Middleton - SHEWOLVES Interview

Following from an incredibly successful and highly critically acclaimed run at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2022 and on a current UK tour SHEWOLVES is now heading to London’s Southwark Playhouse from 21st June until 8th July 2023.

The show follows Priya and Lou, who armed with a backpack full of Pop-tarts embark on covert expedition into the wild. They want to fight against the climate crises and make real change, but when the wilderness closes in around them, first they have to overcome their differences and make their voices heard.

Somewhere between Booksmart, Little Miss Sunshine and Thelma & Louise, SHEWOLVES is a funny and empowering play about forging friendships when you’re a bit weird, the power of hope and the underestimated smartness of teens. 
SHEWOLVES stars Gurjot Dhaliwal as PRIYA and Harriet Waters as LOU. Both of whom reprise their roles from the much-praised Edinburgh production.

Ahead of the run in London I sat down with writer Sarah Middleton to discuss the show in more detail. 

What inspired you to write SHEWOLVES?

Director Hannah Stone and I have both worked a lot with young people, leading youth theatres and running workshops. We collaborated on a children’s show at Nottingham Playhouse in 2019, and we wanted our next show to be for teenagers. 
There’s a gap in theatre programming when it comes to teenagers. There’s theatre for children, theatre for adults, but very little theatre specifically for teens. A lot of stories told about teenagers focus on hormones, gossip and being moody, but that isn’t the full spectrum of teenage life at all. Young people are creative, resilient and hilarious and we wanted to celebrate that, and put young women centre stage.

Photo by Pamela Raith Photography 

Did you use any of your personal experiences when crafting together the piece?
One of the joys of being a writer is exploring characters who are bolder than you are, and writing SHEWOLVES allowed me to tap into some serious teen rebellion. In reality, my teenage years were spent practising the oboe and doing my homework like an absolute dweeb. I had an amazing group of friends though, and those relationships have inspired the play hugely. My teenage friends are still my best friends now. They accepted my weirdness and it shaped my life and allowed meto find my voice. I hope that’s informed the play. 
After a successful run at The Edinburgh Fringe last year, have you had to re-work any of the material ahead of its return this time at Southwark Playhouse?
The running time for Edinburgh is so strict because there are other plays in the space afterwards, so it’s been nice to relax a bit about that. If the play runs over by a minute, that’s fine at Southwark Playhouse. We’ve cut two lines I think…but otherwise it’s the same. We did create a swearing-free version for when we toured to schools, but we’re unleashing the language again for Southwark. 
How do you approach real world issues such as climate change and make it into a piece that is impactful for an audience?
We developed SHEWOLVES with teenagers in the Midlands, interviewing them about the topics in the play. They talked about the weight of expectation on their generation to fix everything whilst passing exams - this became one of the anchors of the play. So many issues are being heaped on young people that we agreed it was useful to make something that left the audience feeling uplifted and hopeful, rather than a bleak apocalyptic story. 
SHEWOLVES explores eco-anxiety, unsafe home environments, and a lack of connection between parents and teens. We worked with drama therapist Kath Akers to make sure we handled all of these topics carefully and that the actors felt comfortable.
What do you want an audience member to take away from seeing the production?
I hope teenagers leave feeling uplifted and empowered to use their voices to make change in their lives - in big or small ways. I hope it gives adults an opportunity to consider the pressures we’re putting on young people, and to listen more closely to what teenagers have to say. 
Could you describe SHEWOLVES in 3 words?
Empowering, uplifting, rebellious!
SHEWOLVES will play at Southwark Playhouse from 21 June – 8 July 2023. To book, visit

Photo by Pamela Raith Photography 

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