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Soccer in Popular Culture

Next month, ArtsEmerson is proud to welcome /peh-LO-tah/ (MAY 1-5) to the stage. Through the sounds of hip-hop and samba and the lyricism of spoken word, this soccer inspired performance travels from the rural pick up games in Haiti to the World Cup Stadiums of Rio de Janeiro and Johannesburg. A story about what it means to run free, we wanted to look at soccer narratives that have lifted us up, made us laugh, cry, and taught us we’re all equal on the field.

The Wolves by Sarah Delappe

This play centers around a girls indoor high school soccer team, as they try to unpack and understand growing up. As the plot unravels, each character is confronted with questions large and small, concerning matters on and off the field. Though they may fight, they come back together as a pack, loyal to the game and each other.

Bend It Like Beckham

An early 2000s classic, this movie quickly became the anthem for all girls who play soccer. Jess, a young woman from a deeply conservative Sikh family, loves the game and, despite her family’s wishes, joins a local women’s soccer team. Starring Kiera Knightly and a brief cameo by David Beckham himself, this film is a staple for all soccer fans, especially for those whose passion is limitless.

Keeper by Mal Peet

Paul Faustino, a journalists for La Nacion, interviews famous soccer player, El Gato, about his recent World Cup win, we learn about El Gato’s haunting story of how he became the famous South American soccer player he is today. Coached as a teenager by a ghost known as “The Keeper,” El Gato regails Faustino with a story unlike any other origin story. This young adult novel is part of a three part series by author Mal Peet, all following Faustino’s journeys as a soccer writer.

She’s The Man

Another mid 2000s classic movie starring Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum, this Shakespeare inspired soccer romantic comedy is certainly one for the books. When Viola learns her soccer team is being cut, she passes off as her twin brother, Sebastian, to play on the men’s team at her brother’s elite boarding school. Viola meets her roommate and teammate, Duke Orsino, and quickly falls for him, but since she is disguised as her brother, has to keep her affections under wraps. A tale of soccer, mismatched identities, and mishaps, She’s The Man will not disappoint.

Fever Pitch: A Fan’s Life by Nick Hornby

A 1992 autobiographical essay by British author Nick Hornby, tell the story of his relationship to soccer, both as a recreational player and avid fan. Each chapter recounts a match Hornby remembers watching, specifically at Arsenal Stadium in Highbury. The book was later turned into two films, one in 1997 and another in 2005. The later stars Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon, changing the central sport from British soccer to the Boston Red Sox.

Be sure to join us on the field with /peh-LO-tah/ May 1-5 at the Emerson Paramount Center.

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