Sarah Middleton Talks SHEWOLVES


Featuring themes of friendship, coming-of-age, climate crisis and Pop-Tarts, we asked playwright Sarah Middleton to tell us more SHEWOLVES, playing at Southwark Playhouse until July 8th.

What is SHEWOLVES all about?

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.

Tell us a little about the two main characters, Priya and Lou.

Lou and Priya are both fourteen and from Derby, but initially they have very different world views. Lou is an uptight straight-A student but keeps getting in trouble for fighting climate change. Priya has people skills and an amazing sense of humour, but has left home because it’s not safe. They learn from each other and find ways to raise their voices together.

How do you go about writing authentic teen characters?

The show was developed with teens in the Midlands from the very beginning of the process. Along with director Hannah Stone, I shared script excerpts with young people and they gave feedback on story, character and language.

They taught us how to speak Gen-Z which made us feel very old (!) but added a lot of authenticity to the piece. We really want it to feel real to teenage audiences so they can see themselves reflected on stage, so it was a vital part of the process.

Which SHEWOLVES character do you relate to most?

I’m probably a combination of the two. As a teenager I was more Lou, but as an adult I’m probably more Priya. I’m a big fan of Pop-Tarts and adventures.

You took SHEWOLVES to schools around the UK – what was the reaction like from students?

It’s been so interesting because the audiences have been really varied. Some school groups sat quietly and took notes, others got involved vocally, shouting out during the most dramatic moments, which is great!

We observed that sometimes teen audiences can feel pressure to laugh/not laugh, or to hide their feelings about the play. A lot of them aren’t used to seeing live performance because schools don’t have capacity to receive touring plays, so it’s been amazing to take the show to them.

We’ve had great feedback from teachers and students, and a lot of them wrote about the play for their GCSEs which was cool.

The SHEWOLVES set is very stripped back – what inspired that approach?

The set has to be practical as well as creative. It has to fit into a van because on tour we moved location every day – but it also has to create a school gate, a bedroom, a living room, various fences in the Peak District and a swimming pool at Butlins! Charlotte Henery has done a great job of making set pieces that can transform into each location, along with Anna Reddyhoff’s lighting. When you watch the show, you fill in all the blanks yourself, and you forget that it’s the same set in each scene. It’s really smart.

Who is the ideal SHEWOLVES audience?

It’s for teenagers and anyone who ever was a teen.

This is your first full-length play. What would your advice be to young female writers trying to make their mark in theatre?

Find your people – your collaborators. Everything feels possible when you’ve got a great team to work with.

Be specific about audiences; who you’re making the work for and how you want them to feel.

Learn how to apply for funding (especially Arts Council funding) so you can be paid for your work.

Make friends with your local theatre and find out what resources might be available to you. There are some amazing schemes and support networks for early career artists, so don’t be afraid to reach out to theatre organisations to see what might be on offer.

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

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