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Bangs High School Theatre Department preparing for 'Bruising' competition

Steve Nash
Brownwood Bulletin
Cast members Sara Jones (left), Caleb Freeland and Marina Nichols are pictured in a fight scene during a rehearsal of the Bangs Theatre Department's One-Act play "Sweet Science of Bruising."

BANGS — For Bangs High School senior Marina Nichols, her boxing career has been a matter of win a few, lose a few.

It's all role-playing.

Nichols is a cast member in the Bangs High School Theatre Department’s One-Act play “Sweet Science of Bruising.” She has four boxing matches against opponents of both genders, and she wins some, loses some.

The play by Joy Wilkinson takes place in England in 1869, theatre director Billie Harvey said.

“It’s a fairly new play,” Harvey said. “In fact this is the first year anyone can do it for UIL One-Act Play. It’s the story of these four women whose lives end up intertwined because they discover boxing as a way to handle what it’s like to be a woman during that time — either a way to fight the patriarchy, or escape the station that they have in life. It just gives them a sense of freedom.”

The Bangs production has a cast of 16, four crew members and an alternate, The students are preparing for their first competition on Feb. 27, hoping they’ll progress to state.

“The boxing has been fun,” Harvey said “Everybody’s had to learn it. There are a lot of fights.”

Wearing boxing gloves, cast members bobbed and weaved, swung and punched, sometimes sending an opponent crashing to the mat while rehearsing a scene recently.

“I have to fake getting beat up by them and then fake beating them up, which is kind of a weird dynamic,” Nichols said of her boxing matches. “In two of my fights we have these breaks for lines, so we have to go from fighting to talking and we have to make sure that we sound exhausted without making it impossible to understand us.”

The cast members have learned to look like they’re punching each other without actually landing blows.

“The hardest part is just the follow-through because you always want to stop before you actually hit them, but you have to make it look like you kept going,” Nichols said “You aim around them and you yell really loud so everyone’s surprised.”

Cast member Sara Jones agreed, “It’s not that hard. If you practice a lot and really get the hang of it, it’s not yard, you kind of just go with it. You just have to really follow through with your punches. Sometimes you can hit the opponent’s boxing gloves to make the sound appear as you’re actually hitting them."