Headstrong 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. According to The New York Times, “Head injuries, including concussions, particularly in the game of American football, have become a subject of deep concern, much study and even Congressional hearings in the United States.”
Link’s play looks at how one family handles the risks and tragedies associated with the game. When ex-NFL linebacker Duncan Troy’s son-in-law, a Pro Bowler himself, dies under strange circumstances, Troy (Hudson) and his widowed daughter (Henry) struggle with their own culpability, and whether the brain trauma he suffered in life was the price of football greatness.
“If you’re an NFL player,” Link said, “what do you do when the one thing you’re qualified to do—that can generate income for your family, the thing you’ve loved your whole life—might destroy your brain? 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. 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?”
Headstrong received its world premiere in New York last spring, presented by the Ensemble Studio Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Project, an initiative designed to stimulate artists to create credible and compelling work exploring the worlds of science and technology and to challenge the existing stereotypes of scientists, engineers and mathematicians in the popular imagination.
For three decades, L.A. Theatre Works has been the leading radio theater company in the United States, committed to using innovative technologies to preserve and promote significant works of dramatic literature and bringing live theater into the homes of millions. The company’s public radio series, featuring stage plays performed by America's top actors augmented by interviews with the artists and others, can be heard in over 100 markets nationwide; can be streamed on demand at www.latw.org; and are available worldwide through Amazon and iTunes. L.A. Theatre Works recordings are available at over 11,000 libriaries throughout the U.S. Headstrong will be distributed free with a study guide to over 3,000 middle and high schools across the country that receive L.A. Theatre Works recordings and teaching materials each year.
For more information and a schedule of upcoming broadcasts, call 310-827-0889 or go to www.latw.org.