Timber Creek’s UIL One Act Play company is taking research to a whole new level as they dive into the world of their show “Ugly Lies the Bone.”

“Ugly Lies the Bone,”written by Lindsey Farrentino, is a play about a wounded female war veteran, Jess, who has been severely burned in an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) accident on her third tour of Afghanistan.  The story follows her homecoming and process of recovery back in her Floridian hometown with the help of a new virtual reality therapy and her family.

The company visited the Burn Unit of Parkland Hospital in Dallas, TX on Feb. 21 in order to learn about the care of patients and their recovery process. They got a one on one session with some of the nurses, Stephanie A. Campbell, Melanie McMahone, Jennifer Rosenthal and nurse Trina, learning the statistics of burn victims every year. In this session, members of the company and their directors got to ask the nurses specific questions that pertained to their show. Once all the questions were answered, the company got to walk the journey of a burn patient who comes to Parkland Hospital. Students visited an ICU room, the wound care center, and ended at the checkout station where burn patients reschedule future appointments.

“I thought it would be very beneficial for our company to spend some time in Jess’ world,” theatre director Amanda Brundrett, said. “Since her story is so pivotal, it is crucial that we understand more of what her life was like in rehab and recovery. I wanted our students to bond over the shared experience of empathy and grow closer together through learning of what Jess’ life was like.”

This field trip was incredibly essential to senior Gabi Galloway who will be portraying the role of Jess.

“My character, Jess, has evolved a lot in the past month and I keep striving to get her as accurate as I can,” Galloway said. “The visit was a huge stepping stone for me as I came back to rehearsals with a better understanding of Jess’s body and the state of her relationships with her friends and family after events involving severe burns.”

The incorporation of VR therapy in this piece makes the story more relatable to a new generation, and gives the audience an insight to the advancements that are being made in the medical field. Throughout the play, Jess gets to navigate a snow-scape to distract her from the pain she must endure as she relearns to walk and gain mobility again. Parkland Hospital has just recently obtained funding to add VR technology into the pediatric burn unit so children can be emerged in an underwater world with Disney’s Nemo from “Finding Nemo” as they go through burn care.

Theatre director Blake Wilson also contributed to the research of the company by taking the students to the “Grace Under Fire” event at the Keller Center of Advanced Learning for female veterans. Students were able to help the ladies out with a day of pampering and got to ask questions about each of their specific experiences in the military. The veterans gave very helpful information to the students on the boot camp process and how the experience affected them and their families as well, including how they deal with PTSD and other difficulties associated with returning home after serving. Many of these veterans expressed how much this day of pampering meant to them.

The OAP company’s first round of competition will be on March 21 at Weatherford High School. Timber Creek will be preforming fifth out of seven shows competing. The competition begins at 1 p.m., so Timber Creek should preform by 5 p.m. Get there early just in case the contest runs ahead of schedule. Admission is free.

“I implore the Timber Creek community to see Ugly Lies the Bone because this show is so much more than the students involved in it,” Galloway said. “This is a chance for the student body to connect with a story involving topics that seldom are talked about.”

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