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Photo by Innovocative Theatre

Written by Florida playwright Lindsey Ferrentino, Innovocative Theatre brings a searing drama to Stageworks Theatre. Ugly Lies the Bone tells the story of a severely wounded female war veteran in 2011 attempting to start a new life after a third tour in Afghanistan. She faces struggles after returning to her home in Titusville, Florida. She's endured intense pain from both her injuries and the surgeries that followed, and uses virtual reality therapy for pain management to begin to emotionally heal herself.

When Staci Sabarsky first read the script, she was concerned that it was technically-challenging; however, at second look she knew it needed to be done.

"It was a story that was really important. It fit my mission and it was relevant," she said. "There's so many veterans here in Florida and we don't often talk about what happens after they return from fighting for our country and it is told from the perspective of a female combat veteran written by a female playwright. It's really important that we tell her story accurately and respectfully."

To provide compete authenticity to the performance, Carrie Elk, founder of the Elk Institute, has been consulting with the cast and crew to ensure the story is told truthfully.

"Carrie Elk of The Elk Institute has been an amazing partner," said Staci.

Ugly Lies the Bone stars Marie-Claude Tremblay, Erin Foster, Jason Hoolihan, Jacob Barrens, and Dawn Truax. The title of the play comes from a line in an Albert Einstein poem - Beauty is but skin deep, ugly lies the bone.

"I think it's talking about how a lot of people can judge you on your physical appearance which can fade. It's what's inside that really matters," said Staci. "The main character Jess is struggling with her physical appearance because she was burned by an IED."

Marie-Claude Tremblay who plays Jess, the combat veteran said, "I think the message of the show is even though you are broken, you can come back from whatever it is that you are going through. A lot of times, when soldiers come back home, they aren't the same mentally and even physically. Sometimes the family dynamic, their friends - their relationships have changed due to deployment. They have to contend with that. Even though things have changed, you can't stay in the past; you have to move forward."

Each matinee of the play running August 10-19, will feature a talkback with experts in the field.

On August 11, the panel includes the Honorable Michael J. Scionti who presides over the Veterans Treatment Court in Hillsborough County and is a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, Judge Advocate General's Corps and is currently assigned to the U.S. Special Operations Command; Cameilla Simmons who served in the United States Marine Corps as a Corporal in the field of communications as a Field wireman and Radio Operator and is a graduate of the Veterans Treatment Court program; David Silva who served from 1994-2005 in the US Army as a Staff Sergeant and is a graduate of the Veterans Treatment Court, and Carrie A. Elk, PhD, LMHC, CTE, founder of The Elk Institute, and has served as a Subject Matter Expert of PTSD to USSOCOM. She provides consultation, education and treatment to the Special Operations community and other military groups worldwide.

On August 12, the panel features Carrie A. Elk, PhD, LMHC, CTE and she is joined by Marie Flynn, a retired PTSD Nurse Manager who worked at Bay Pines VA Hospital in Pinellas County. Marie also worked as a nurse for over twenty years caring for veterans who served in WWII, the Korean and Vietnam wars.

On August 18, the panel includes Jenna Miller, LMHC, a licensed mental health counselor who works at Quantum Leap Farm in Odessa which offers retreats and equine-assisted therapies for both active duty military, veterans and their families, and Carri-Ann Gibson, MD, DAAPM, the physician Chief of Mental Health Specialty Programs at the James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital in Tampa working on the Trauma Recovery Program, the Alcohol & Drug Abuse Treatment Program, and the Suicide Prevention Team.

On August 19, the panel features Nicholas Caris who teaches adaptive yoga to veterans with Exalted Warrior Foundation and is the Deputy Director of Yoga For Vets in Tampa, and Carla Staats, LCDC, a licensed chemical dependency counselor who works at Quantum Leap Farm in Odessa which offers retreats and equine-assisted therapies for the active duty military, veterans and their families.

"I'm really excited because part of my mission is to have audience engagement," said Staci. "A lot of people may not know how to approach or talk to a veteran. We open up communication and audience members can ask questions to the panel. A dollar from each ticket sold will be donated to Elk Institute. The audience members will have already taken action just by purchasing a ticket and being there. They're already supporting treatment for Veterans because we're supporting the institute."

Ugly Lies The Bone is Thursday, August 9 at 8:00 p.m. (PREVIEW), Friday, August 10 at 8:00 p.m. (Opening Night with prosecco & cake reception), Saturday, August 11 at 3:00 p.m. & 8:00 p.m., Sunday, August 12 at 3:00 p.m. (with talkback), Friday, August 17 at 8:00 p.m., Saturday, August 18 at 3:00 p.m. (with talkback) & 8:00 p.m., and Sunday, August 19 at 3:00 p.m. (with talkback) at Stageworks, 1120 E. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. Buy tickets and learn more at

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From This Author Deborah Bostock-Kelley