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Bulls and Brits collaborate to tell Body Stories

Whether it’s through scars or tattoos, every body tells a story. Beginning tonight, USF theatre students will take their personal tales to the stage.

USF’s British International Theatre (BRIT) Program has been working with London’s Filter Theatre Company to produce “Body Stories” – a show inspired by actual accounts of the cast concerning their own bodies. Filter has been working with students on the script – through playwright Stephen Brown – as well as with stage direction and sound.

“We started off, really, by asking the students to give us some of their memorable body stories, either positive or negative, that their body was involved in,” Brown said.

Those stories turned into theis multi-narrative show’s script, and its characters in were created through the improvisations and observations of the cast. The script as a whole was written by Filter Theatre in “about three weeks,” Brown said.

“We started at the beginning of the semester,” said Christopher Hough, a junior majoring in theatre. “But it really started off as just more acting exercises, really getting to know who we were as performers, as actors, and then slowly forming ideas for what would become the main strands of the story.”

Formed in 2003, Filter is a devising company that creates new work – as is the case with the content of “Body Stories” – as well as interprets classic texts. In the past, the company has created scripts for the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company, and it The New York Times has called the group “masters of a ramped-up culture.”

When first asked to work with USF for six weeks, Filter had the topic of the body in mind, Brown said. It was an idea the company had wanted to explore for a while, yet it hadn’t had the opportunity to put the idea into action until arriving at USF to create a production as part of its BRIT Program.

“If you had asked me 10 days ago when I was still working on the script, I would’ve been less confident,” Brown said of the recently completed script. “But I feel now that we’ve got a good show.”

Despite the external involvement and short time frame, Hough said he too was confident approaching the final 48 hours before opening night.

“At first I thought it may be kind of a power struggle because we had these four British creative directors coming in, but it quickly became established that (Brown) was doing the playwriting, that (Ollie Dimsdale) was doing the directing and that we had a sound designer and an additional creative mind to add in his input every once and a while.”

Brown said he hopes students will be able to relate to the stories.

“It’s a show that reflects, I hope, the lives of the students here at USF to some extent,” Brown said. “This group of students that we’ve been able to work with have been really fantastic, really professional and creative and open to trying out something quite new, and it’s been great for us to create a completely new show with them and experiment in different ways and see what we can do in this environment.”

“Body Stories” opens tonight at 8 in Theatre 2. Additional shows are Feb. 24 and 25 at 8 p.m., Feb. 26 at 3 p.m., Feb. 29 to March 3 at 8 p.m. and March 4 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $12 for general admission in advance and $15 the day of show. Student tickets are $8 in advance and $10 the day of show.