[SALT LAKE CITY, UT, FEBRUARY 7, 2023] – The University of Utah Department of Theatre presents Joy Wilkinson’s The Sweet Science of Bruising. The production runs from February 17 through February 26, and is described as follows: 


Inspired by the real history of women’s boxing, The Sweet Science of Bruising is a tale of pugilism, politics, and personal identity in Victorian London. In an era when “respectable” competitions for female athletes were virtually nonexistent, an eccentric promoter recruits four very different women to fight for the invented title of “Lady Boxing Champion of the World.” As they train and compete in underground bouts, all four find unexpected freedom and solidarity in the “sweet science” of boxing. The championship soon becomes a prize with life-changing potential, but in 19th-century England, the most fearsome opponents lie outside the ring—and they play by a different set of rules. 

First things first: in case you were wondering, there will be boxing onstage. The script calls for fisticuffs  and the production delivers, with boxing matches and fights staged by Fight & Intimacy Director and U alum Adriana Lemke. But if boxing isn’t your bag, don’t worry: the intertwined lives of the four protagonists are the main event. Rchly plotted and keenly observed, their stories range far beyond the arena and give audience members a variety of characters to identify with (and root for). Meanwhile, the setting provides a meaningful backdrop for political and personal issues — including income inequality, intimate partner violence, reproductive rights, bodily autonomy, and gender performance — that are just as urgent today.  

In her foreword to the 2019 paperback edition, Wilkinson writes, “here we are . . . playing with the form of the period drama to put different stories onstage and ask questions about how we live now. How do we balance our drive to win as individuals with our need to connect and work together? Can we compete to be the best and still care for others? Can women create different power structures? Do we want to? Or are we all the same, men and women, winners and losers – single protagonists in our own stories?” 

“This is the kind of piece that takes a whole community of artists to put up, which feels connected to what the playwright is celebrating,” says director Alexandra Harbold. “We’ve got three different rooms per night going on at the same time in rehearsal: dialects in one room, fight choreography in another, scene work in another. It’s about collaboration, working together to make progress, to take something from vision to reality. This idea of pitting people against each other as the ultimate end, where there has to be one winner and everybody else is a loser . . . [Wilkinson] challenges that. It’s a different model for victory, and for living.” 



Principal cast members include Tristian Osborne (Professor Charlie Sharp), CoCo Berwald (Violet Hunter), Hannah Ekstrom (Anna Lamb), Dorothy Mayer (Matty Blackwell), and Taryn McClure (Polly Stokes). Additional cast members include Lina Boyer (Aunt George), Aly Carter (Nancy), Brandon Ernst (Gabriel Lamb), Maggie Goble (Emily), Grayson Kamel (Dr. James Bell), True Leavitt (Referee, Dr. Foster, Ensemble), Luke Morton (Captain Danby, Ensemble), and Michael Tirrell (Paul Stokes). Tessa Jones and Macey J. Shackelford are the principal cast understudies.  

The Sweet Science of Bruising is directed by Alexandra Harbold, Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of Flying Bobcat Theatrical Laboratory and Assistant Professor with the Department of Theatre. Her recent directing projects include To Saints and Stars (Good Company Theatre), The Wreck of Queen Thomasina (Footpath Theatre/spit&vigor, NY), Liminal (with Robert Scott Smith, Studio 115), Storm Still (Babcock Theatre), the online premiere of The Night Witches (U of U Virtual), and Ronald and Edith (The Fairy Story Society & Flying Bobcat, Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival).  

Joining her on the creative team are Scenic Designer Nikayla Starr Nielson, Costume Designer Mae Hinton-Godfrey, Lighting Designer Meghan Gibson, Sound Designer Summer Stevens, Prop Designer Anna Blaes, Wig and Makeup Designer Samantha Wootten, Fight and Intimacy Director Adriana Lemke, Dramaturg Laurel Morgan, and Choreographer Constance Anderson, with Stage Manager Savannah Gersdorf.  

Joy Wilkinson is a playwright and screenwriter whose plays include The Sweet Science of Bruising (Southwark Playhouse, 2018); Acting Leader (Tricycle Theatre, London, 2010); Fair (Finborough Theatre, 2005; Trafalgar Studios, West End, 2006); and Felt Effects (joint winner of the 2004 Verity Bargate Award, Theatre503, 2006). TV credits include Doctor Who and BBC1’s critically acclaimed Nick Nickleby. Joy’s directing debut Ma’am won Bumble’s International Female Film Force Award and several other emerging talent awards as part of its festival run. She is currently lead writer on the hit Netflix series Lockwood & Co





Aaron Swenson 
Marketing and Communications Coordinator 

Promotional photos available athttps://theatre.utah.edu/sweetscience. Please contact Aaron Swenson for hi-res promo photos and interview requests. 



The Sweet Science of Bruising 
By Joy Wilkinson 



February 17 – 26, 2023 
Thursday – Saturday at 7:30 pm 
Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:00 pm 

ASL Interpreted performance and Audience Talkback on Friday, February 24 



The Babcock Theatre is located on the lower level of the  Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre building, 300 South 1400 East, Salt Lake City  



General Information: https://theatre.utah.edu/sweetscience 
Online Ticketing: https://artstickets.utah.edu/events/the-sweet-science-of-bruising/ 
Box Office: 801.581.7100 

$17.50 General Admission 
$12.50 U of U faculty and staff with valid ID 
$12.50 seniors ages 60 and over 
Free for U of U students with Arts Pass (ticket and valid UCard required)*
Free for Utah high school students with valid ID (ticket required)*
$7.50 all other students with a valid student ID 

*For more information about Arts Pass and high school student tickets, visit https://theatre.utah.edu/sweetscience 



This production contains strong language and content intended for adult audiences. Some audience members may find aspects of the subject matter to be upsetting or objectionable. For more information and a detailed content advisory, visit the production website at https://theatre.utah.edu/sweetscience

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