“When I first started researching my play Ugly Lies the Bone, I came across, very randomly, a few articles on Firsthand Technology and the exciting work that Howard Rose and Ari Hollander were doing with the pain management game SnowWorld, and their later version, COOL! I knew that my play was going to be about a female veteran coming home, but until finding Firsthand I was only hovering over the material. It wasn’t until coming across their technology that I suddenly knew what my play would be about – a female soldier using virtual reality technology to treat her chronic pain, after suffering an IED explosion in Afghanistan.
The thing I value most about being an artist is my ever-growing community of people that I would never have had the opportunity to meet were I not researching a certain project. Howard and Ari are at the very top of that list. Their thoughts made their way into rewrites on my play. They did a panel discussion so that the audience could understand the full implications, complications, and benefits of VR therapy. They set up lobby displays so that the audience, after viewing the play could experience the virtual reality for themselves (I often heard audiences commenting that it wasn’t until playing the game in the lobby that they realized VR therapy was even a real thing). And Howard and Ari came into the rehearsal room and graciously talked to the actors, allowed the actors to participate in the testing of the game, answered questions of the design teams involved in the productions. Having them integrated into a production process made the play’s themes more relevant to the audience and frankly, made the virtual reality realm seem suddenly humanized, beneficial, and accessible.
Coming across Howard, Ari, and Firsthand was a life-changing event for me. Not only am I now suddenly incredibly passionate about virtual reality’s benefits, but their frontier spirit and the moving work that they are doing with sufferers of chronic pain inspired me to write this play has now been produced across the United States and London. We are only just beginning to understand the practical applications for virtual reality and it is an honor to know two people at the forefront of the field – to allow my art to imitate their work and for their work to become a part of my art is what I mostly deeply value.”