Center Stage to Kick Off 2013-14 Play Labs with THE AMERICAN FOOTBALL PROJECT, 12/6-8

Center Stage announces today the first Play Lab of the 2013-14 Season. KJ Sanchez (ReEntry) and American Records will present a workshop reading of their newest piece under development, The American Football Project, December 6-8.

Football is a beautiful game. In so many ways, it has come to represent the American dream. It bonds teammates, families, and entire communities. It can give much. But it can also take much away. Each day we are learning more about how injuries-especially to the head- are affecting today's football players, their families, and in turn the sport itself. Will the game look the same in 20 years? Through interviews with current and former players, coaches, medical staff, trainers, and parents of young athletes, playwright KJ Sanchez, with collaborator Jenny Mercein, explores the research and issues surrounding head injuries in American football and the impact these new insights are having on the game.

"I became interested in the science of how the brain adapts to injury and change caused by concussion while conducting interviews with Marines who served in Iraq and Afghanistan," says Sanchez. "Traumatic brain injury (TBI) has received a lot of attention as many military personnel and football players are diagnosed with debilitating brain injuries. Blast and blunt-force traumas frequently impact the same region of the brain as anxiety and mood disorders, so it's difficult to tell if symptoms are caused by the brain's reaction to trauma or if there is another culprit."

KJ Sanchez is an accomplished playwright and CEO of American Records, a theater company devoted to making plays that chronicle our time, frequently through the docudrama format. Center Stage previously produced Sanchez's ReEntry, based on interviews with Marines about preparing for and returning from deployment. Jenny Mercein, an actor, teacher, director, and writer based in New York City, is the daughter of a Super Bowl-winning former professional player and a life-long football fan. She graduated from Yale University and received her M.F.A. in Acting from The University of Washington, and currently teaches acting at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy.

Play Lab: The American Football Project

Written by KJ Sanchez with Jenny Mercein

December 6-8, 2013

Performances for The American Football Project are Friday and Saturday, December 6 and 7 at 8 pm, and Sunday, December 8, at 2 pm. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at, or by calling our Box Office at 410.332.0033. There will also be a free, open rehearsal beginning at 3 pm on Saturday, December 7. Patrons interested in attending the open rehearsal should contact the Box Office at

Center Stage's Play Labs are a series of diverse readings, complete with open rehearsals, that invite audiences to join the new play process. Featuring new work, projects in progress, and commissions, Play Labs offer encounters with some of the most dynamic new and established voices in theater, and put patrons at the heart of the conversation.

The American Football Project is a joint effort of American Records, playwright KJ Sanchez, and actor/writer Jenny Mercein, and is co-commissioned by Center Stage and California's Berkeley Repertory Theatre.

The project is produced as part of Center Stage's Commission 2.0 initiative, a continuation of the theater's long history of supporting the development of new plays. Led by Kwame Kwei-Armah, himself a playwright, Commission 2.0 provides tangible, practical commitments to individual playwrights, in the belief that a more direct pipeline from conception to production is essential for the artistic vitality of both Center Stage and the theater community at large. Commission 2.0 writers receive extraordinary access to resources or collaborators suited to the particular needs of each project, specific developmental support, and a concrete timeline towards production.

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