Ensemble Studio Theatre Presents World Premiere of Patrick Link's HEADSTRONG, 4/30
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by BWW News Desk
The Ensemble Studio Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Project for New Plays on Science and Technology will tackle Post-Concussion Syndrome when it presents the world premiere of 27-year-old playwright Patrick Link's HEADSTRONG. The play, directed by Ensemble Studio Theatre Artistic Director William Carden, begins previews April 18 for an opening April 30 at The Ensemble Studio Theatre, 549 West 52nd Street.
Link's play is inspired by the ongoing struggles of professional athletes with head-related injuries, including, among others, Hall of Fame Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster, who suffered from amnesia, dementia and depression before his death at the age of 50; and Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Andre Waters, who sustained numerous concussions as a player before committing suicide at age 44.
"Science tells us these men put their lives at risk when they go out on that field," says Carden. "But there is a deep need in our culture for heroes, and these men answer that need. So this play is asking, 'do we lose our heroes if we heed our science?' It's a conflict."
"In the interest of player safety, football has to change drastically, and that's a change that no true fan of the sport wants to see," Link says. "When science tells us that our traditions, our passions are flawed, how do we change? What consequence is severe enough to bring about change? If brain damage isn't enough…what is?"
Link is a fourth-year member of the Youngblood Playwrights Group (all playwrights are under 30) at Ensemble Studio Theatre (EST) where HEADSTRONG was developed. His work has also been commissioned by Three Graces Theatre, EST/Sloan Project and published by Original Works.
Carden, The Ensemble Studio Theatre artistic director since 2007, last directed on the mainstage when he helmed 2010’s Lenin’s Embalmers by Vern Thiessen and, before that, Lucy by Damien Atkins. In the 2009 One-Act Play Marathon he directed Tommy Smith’s PTSD. Off Broadway, he directed Mrs. Klein and Collected Stories both starring Uta Hagen at the Lucille Lortel Theatre as well as the Young Girl and the Monsoon at Playwrights Horizons and The Dew Point for Summer Play Festival. In Canada, he directed Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf at the Stratford Festival.
The Ensemble Studio Theatre www.ensemblestudiotheatre.org was founded on the belief that extraordinary support yields extraordinary work. Through its unique collaborative process it develops and produces original, provocative and authentic new plays that engage and challenge its audience and audiences across the country. The Ensemble Studio Theatre's award-winning membership comprises 562 artists and ranges from distinguished, recognizable playwrights (Annie Baker, Jon Robin Baitz), performers (Lois Smith, David Rasche, William Jackson Harper) and directors (Pamela Berlin, José Zayas) to new talent. In 2009, EST was ranked #1 in NYC and #2 nationally by playwrights of note for its dedication to producing new plays (Theatre Development Fund’s study Outrageous Fortune by Todd London and Ben Pesner). The company has presented over 6,500 plays since its founding in 1968.