Strength in the Unknown 

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” 

—John F. Kennedy, “We Choose to Go to the Moon” 


The influence of storytelling is why I began my path in theatre. I am obsessed with reading and sharing stories—every story I can get my hands on. The theatre brings those stories to life and offers me a way to be involved in using stories to enact change. When COVID-19 hit in 2020, theatre, just like the rest of the world, shut down. We were not prepared to produce remote theatre; therefore, a majority of us were left in the dark about where to go from here—how do we do theatre when we cannot all be in the room? The absence of theatre led me and other artists to question our sense of identity—who are we without this significant part our lives? However, as I have worked with the director, cast, and creative team on Ugly Lies the Bone by Lindsey Ferrentino, I have come to learn that it isn’t a question as to who we are without theatre, but rather how do we adapt to this new path? Theatre came back. We came back. More so, we have dug up methods that were archived (audio plays, podcasts, etc.) and unraveled new approaches to creating theatre such as hosting workshops, readings, and productions via Zoom which has also allowed us to make theatre more accessible for those unable to physically attend theatrical events—an adaptation which was severely overlooked, and even ignored, until now. This reworking of the way we present theatre has also influenced the stories we tell and the experiences we examine.  

In Ugly Lies the Bone, Jess faces monumental life changes after returning, injured, from her third tour in Afghanistan during the War on Terrorism. Jess is expecting to return to her life as she left it, but everyone else has continued living. Where does this leave Jess? As she struggles to regain her strength and mobility, Jess is also dealing with mental injuries from her trauma; specifically, she’s having to learn how to work through post-traumatic stress—an injury which 63% of veterans (since WWII) suffer from and is even more common in female veterans like Jess. As the life Jess knew is fading, so is the country’s hope for exploring the stars. NASA’s space shuttle program began with a bold plan from President John F. Kennedy and stagnated from loss of funding and progress as Atlantis, named after the legendary utopia, made its final launch and return during the events of Ferrentino’s play. While mourning the loss of a potential future through the shuttle program, new programs such as SpaceX and several observatory satellites are moving forward in unknown directions.  

How do we mourn the path we lost, acknowledge our current circumstances, and use our past to create a new course for our future? These are questions that the creative team and cast of Ugly Lies the Bone asked as we exposed the intricacies of this play. Listen to Jess’ story, seek more stories from veterans, and use this knowledge to advocate for this community who have fought to protect our lives—you cannot learn from your past and move forward if you do not open your eyes.  

—Rebecca Weaver, Dramaturg