First Light

Filtering by: First Light

to May 27

Headstrong by Patrick Link

Ensemble Studio Theatre and The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation presents

by Patrick Link

Directed by William Carden*

April 18 - May 27, 2012

"When you win, nothing hurts." - Joe Namath

Ex-NFL linebacker Duncan Troy played with the greats, and tackled them to the ground. When his son-in-law, a Pro Bowler himself, dies under strange circumstances, Troy and his widowed daughter struggle with their own culpability, and whether the brain trauma he suffered in life was the price of football greatness.

with Ron Canada+ , Tim Cain+ , Alexander Gemignani+  & Nedra McClyde*+ 

Assistant Director - Francesca Di Cesare
Production Stage Manager - Danielle Buccino+
Assistant Stage Manager - Kelly Ruth Cole+
Sound Designer - Janie Bullard
Lighting Designer - Chris Dallos
Costume Designer - Suzanne Chesney
Set Designer - Jason Simms
Video Designer - David Tennent
Props Manager - Kate Stack
Technical Director - Derek Dickinson
Wardrobe Supervisor - Eileen Lalley

*denotes EST Member + denotes Equity Member


"Funny, frightening, relevant and enlightening, Headstrong folds the scientific, medical, social and cultural aspects of the sports/CTE story into a dramatic family narrative beautifully with wonderful, engaging characters." - Stone Phillips

"Well-acted and incisively directed by William Carden, Headstrong boasts strong characters and pungently funny dialogue. A chilling final twist suggests that the problems facing this tragedy-plagued household are far from over." - NY Post

"Headstrong is a riveting, character-driven work of art. The piece is a must-see for anyone who has an interest in any form of competition. The writer manages to make the world of football players both unnecessarily tragic and universally heroic. In the last year, many media outlets are beginning to turn their attention to the dangers of competitive sports. All of them would be wise to go watchHeadstrong and see how a brilliant writer, director, and cast show the complexities of this issue." -

"[Patrick] Link has created a universal tale about the struggle between pride and self-preservation, and between honoring the past and creating a workable future. A strong cast helps to make this tight little story a minor home run-I mean, touchdown." - Time Out New York

"Headstrong scores with taut directing by William Carden and great performances all around." -




On Saturday May 12, we held a post-show discussion with Hall of Fame Linebacker and all-time NY Giants great, Harry Carson, Forensic Pathologist/Neuropathologist/Epidemiologist & Clinical Professor of Pathology at University of California, Davis, Bennet Omalu and veteran news reporter Stone Phillips.

On Wednesday May 2, we held a post-show discussion with clinical neuropsychologist Dr. Jill Brooks & senior writer for ESPN: The Magazine Peter Keating. The discussion was moderated by Ivan Oransky, executive editor of Reuters Health.

On Friday April 27, Headstrong director William Carden, actor Ron CanadaDr. Annegret Dettwiler-Danspeckgruber & Dr. Jeffrey S. Kutcher from The University of Michigan's Department of Neurology were on Science Friday discussing concussions & the repeated brain injuries suffered by some athletes. Click here to listen.

On Monday, April 23 we held a post-show discussion with Irvin Muchnick, a leading reporter and writer on concussions in sports & Dr. Annegret Dettwiler-Danspeckgruber, Associate Research Scholar at The Princeton Neuroscience Institute, moderated by Headstrong director William Carden. Watch the video below.


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to May 27

First Light Performances

EST/Sloan Rough Cut Presentation

by Cori Thomas*

directed by Jamie Richards* 
with Vandit Bhatt+, Maggie Bofill+, Stephanie Berry*+, Sarah Nina Hayon & Alfredo Narciso*+

Maricela, recently out of prison and looking for gainful employment, begins a journey to become a Pest Control Engineer. Little does she know a bed bug epidemic looms'

Production Stage Manager - Julie Watson+ 
Assistant Stage Manager - Kevin Clutz+
Lighting Designer - Greg MacPherson* 
Set/Props Designer - Travis Bell

EST/Sloan Mainstage Production HEADSTRONG by Patrick Link

EST/Youngblood Presentatiom THE BIG BRUNCH THEORY


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to May 27

First Light Readings

Presented by the Ensemble Studio Theatre and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

When a new telescope focused on the heavens becomes operational, the initials images it sees are called First Light. For fourteen years, the EST/Sloan Project has led a pioneering nationwide effort to commission, develop and present hundreds of new plays that challenge and broaden the view of science in the popular imagination.

by Jeff Bienstock, Patrick Link and Eric March

Mon March 12 @ 7pm

Rival paleontologists fight for their legacy in a musical battle for the ages.

by Bekah Brunstetter 

Thu March 15 @ 3pm

After a Thanksgiving dinner debate gets out of hand, Blaine sets out to prove to her father that global warming is real. But the data is slippery, and Blaine struggles to defend her truth when Googling isn’t enough.


by Holli Harms

Thursday, March 15 @ 7pm

1967: one lone cosmonaut is launched into space on a fatally flawed rocket. As he hurtles back to earth, Vladimir Komarov is haunted by his past, present, and his now-inevitable future.

by Justin Fleming

Fri March 16 @ 7pm

Against his father’s wishes, Santiago Cajal secretly pursues his dreams of being an artist, while compliantly studying medicine. In the scientific backwater of Barcelona, he discovers that the brain is composed of independent neurons. Armed with his secret talent for art, he embarks on an extraordinary mission to show the world his discovery.

by Laura Jacqmin

Mon March 19 @ 7pm

Can one Player save the most influential computer game company of the 1980’s from certain doom? Matching wits against feuding founders, a changing adventure game marketplace, and a demonic CEO, one man attempts to rout disaster and score the maximum number of points. A theatrical text adventure based on the fall of Infocom.

by Jennifer Maisel

Fri March 23 @ 7pm

Sara lives on Mars time, spearheading the Mars Rover Expedition, visiting a planet she cannot touch. Her teenage daughter Lis, on earth time, falls under the spell of the cyber-cypher Edgar2330. An exploring woman and a longing-to-be-explored girl try to find each other in our increasingly disconnected universe.

by Beau Willimon

Sun March 25 @ 3pm

1997: A legendary chess master travels to New York to play the supercomputer created solely to defeat him.

by Keith Reddin*

directed by Giovanna Sardelli*

Mon March 26 @ 7pm 

For decades after he left Germany, the Nazi scientist Arthur Rudolph played a crucial role in US missile development and getting a man to the moon. But toward the end of his life, America didn’t want him anymore. A story of mixed allegiances and strange bedfellows in 20th century science.

by Carla Ching

Thu March 29 @ 7pm

Mable Kwan was a famous grifter who taught her sons the long con. One retired and became a magician; another, a sports writer. Blue, the youngest and the only girl, now studies game theory and may become the best con artist of the family. When the estranged trio is called home with a small fortune at stake, who will con who in the end?

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7:00 PM19:00

Fall Artist Cultivation Event

The Ensemble Studio Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Project, which has been funding plays about science for the last 14 years, held its Fall Artist Cultivation Event on November 8, 2011. This was a fabulous opportunity for playwrights to discuss what makes a great potential science play with scientists and science journalists. The panelists included Janna Levin, Robin Lloyd, Corey Powell & Neil deGrasse Tyson.

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