New Play Explores The Healing Power Of Virtual Reality Technology

New Play Explores The Healing Power Of Virtual Reality TechnologyPenobscot Theatre Company is proud to present the Maine premiere of Lindsey Ferrentino's Ugly Lies the Bone, March 15-April 1, at the historic Bangor Opera House. This contemporary drama follows Jess, a wounded young veteran who finds hope and healing through virtual reality therapy.

"Through an elaborately crafted projected video game, we will transport our audience from Jess's reality, which is difficult and messy and not at all what she imagined for her life, to a virtual world where she can escape her pain," explains Producing Artistic Director Bari Newport, who is directing the production. "It's an extraordinarily life-affirming story that reminds us of the resilience of the human spirit and the need to move ever forward."

Rachel Burttram, an AEA company member at Florida Repertory Theatre who is known in regional theatre circles for her authentic, complex performances, is making her Penobscot Theatre Company debut in the role of Jess. Amy Roeder, AEA, last seen in 2016's Calendar Girls plays her sister. The dynamic cast also includes Allen Adams (Escanaba in da Moonlight), Brad LaBree (Escanaba in da Moonlight) and Johanna-Karen Johannson.

Chuck Carter, who is well known in the community as a professional game builder and NASA artist with his team at Eagre Games is collaborating with Husson University's Brave Williams to create the virtual world which will sit on top of Tricia Hobbs's (Misery) evocative set design. Sound design is by Katie Guzzi (Escanaba in da Moonlight), property design is by Belinda Hobbs (Misery) and lighting design is by Scout Hough (Disney's Beauty and the Beast). Resident costume designer Kevin Koski is dually designing prosthetic special effects for this production.

Produced in partnership with the Maine Science Festival, the play offers an excellent jumping-off point for a community conversation about the therapeutic applications of modern technology and the complex issues arising from modern warfare. "Maine has the third highest percentage of veterans per capita in the U.S. and more than half live in the second district," said Executive Director Mary Budd, "so this story is especially relevant for our community. We aim to foster a productive dialogue around the visible and invisible wounds of war and promising new paths to healing."

The company has planned two special events for the opening weekend of the production, which coincides with the Maine Science Festival. Saturday, March 17, from 10:00 am-12:30 pm, Director of Education and master improviser Amy Roeder will team with Connie McVey, a licensed clinical social worker from Acadia Hospital, to conduct a workshop on how theatrical improvisation can help with recovery from traumatic events. This experience has been designed for mental health practitioners, people living with trauma and their loved ones, and those interested in the practice. The workshop will be at the company's Dramatic Academy space at 51A Main Street, Bangor. Space is limited and registration is required. To sign-up, call (207) 947-6618 ext. 107 or email education@penobscottheatre.org.

On Sunday, March 18, following the 3:00 pm matinee performance of Ugly Lies the Bone, the company will host a panel discussion on stage, featuring the cast and creative team along with Raymond "RJ" Perry, technical manager at the University of Maine's Virtual Environment and Multimodal Interaction (VEMI) Laboratory; John J. Campbell, MD, FANPA, Chief Medical Informatics Officer (CMIO) and Director of Community Services at Acadia Hospital; and representatives of Maine's active and retired military community. The discussion will start at approximately 5:00 pm, and the public is invited at no cost.

Show tickets are available online at www.penobscottheatre.org or through the box office, located at 131 Main Street, Bangor; (207) 942-3333. Prices range from $27-38 for adults; student tickets are all $15. Military personnel and their immediate families are eligible for $5 off the price of Tier 1 seats.

Ugly Lies the Bone is produced with generous support from the Maine Theatre Fund, administered by the Maine Community Foundation; the Margaret Burnham Charitable Trust; the City of Bangor, the Maine Infantry Foundation and Acadia Hospital; and season sponsors Bangor Daily News, Blueberry Broadcasting, Canyon Networks, The Maine Edge, The Maine Arts Commission, Darling's, Downtown with Rich Kimball, The Tarratine, Wave Radio, WLBZ Channel 2, and ZONE Radio. See you at the theatre!



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