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April 8, 2016

UGLY LIES THE BONE: A Story of Healing, Small Town America and Magical Realism


Name and job title?
David Kimple, Licensing Manager.

And which play are we talking about today?
Ugly Lies the Bone by Lindsey Ferrentino.

How would you classify the genre?
Heartfelt drama with a drop of magical realism and a few laughs for good measure.

A drop of magical realism! Love it. So, when did you first read or see Ugly Lies the Bone?
I was fortunate enough to read an early draft of this one, and I can honestly say that the impact and strength of the story was fully present from the very beginning.

Ugly Lies the Bone at the National Theatre

Ugly Lies the Bone at the National Theatre

How did it become one of your favorites?
I think the most important reason is that Lindsey’s writing is simply intoxicating. She has a brilliant way of capturing, shaping, and transforming the smallest bits of everyday life into wonderfully theatrical events. The conversations that Jess, a veteran healing from severe burns all over her body after three tours in the middle-east, and Stevie, Jess’s former love, have in the gas station are a perfect example. In these scenes, it’s darn near impossible not to fall in love with the idea of Jess and Stevie being together despite their individual circumstances. It’s truly charming and achieved only because of the tenderness, musicality, and specificity that Lindsey works in.

I also resonate with the way it deals with the state small town America today. Ugly Lies the Bone takes place on the Space Coast (Florida), which is also my hometown. What Lindsey has done to capture the overwhelming sense of loss that has been created in the wake of the NASA’s Shuttle Program is astounding. Her utilization of the Shuttle Program’s closure to tell this story isn’t beaten over the head either. There are no astronaut’s exhibited, but Stevie did work at a panini press in the Space Center and even that job is lost. The people here move through life with an eerie sense of blandness. They simply exist through life but don’t seem to know or question why.

It gives me lots of feelings.

Can you name a favorite character in this play?
I think it is really important to point out the fact that Jess, the main character in this story, is brilliantly written. This is a female protagonist who has experienced more in her young adult life than anyone should ever have to. We are fortunate enough to participate in so many different aspects of her character over the course of this play that it is amazing the show can still run under 90 minutes. Jess is masterfully nuanced and will be the kind of character that, I suspect, actors will aspire to play for years to come.

Kacie, Jess’s sister, is another example of an admirably complex character. She is a different sort of vulnerable and endearing altogether; Kacie is a character who demands the kind of strength that one only builds when forced to be strong for the sake of those that they love.

Ugly Lies the Bone at the National Theatre

Ugly Lies the Bone at the National Theatre

Okay, now let’s wrap up with a sales pitch. Why should theaters do this show?
Ugly Lies the Bone is the perfect story to tell during a time when America is trying to heal. Communities all over the country have been slowly but surely climbing out of a deep hole created in the last ten years and Jess’s unique rehabilitation serves as a perfect parallel of this. It is theatrical in its use of virtual reality as a healing tool and allows for unique opportunities to engage the community; one might be able to partner with local veteran groups or healing centers as a method of community engagement.

Less than 90 minutes. Small/medium cast. Truly powerhouse roles for women. A young new female voice that has been referred to by The New York Times as “a writer of dauntless conviction.”

To purchase a copy of Ugly Lies the Bone, visit the Concord Theatricals website in the US or UK. To learn more about licensing a production, click here: US/UK.

Header Image: 2015 Roundabout production of Ugly Lies the Bone (Richard Termine for The New York Times)