By: Katie Burns
For one Baylor graduate, years of hard work have finally paid off. Playwright Larry Herold, class of ’78, launched the premiere of The Sports Page in Fort Worth at the Stage West Theater.
The play is set in the 1960s, at the Dallas Cowboys training camp in Waxahachie, Texas. It follows a young sports writer through the shift from editorial sports journalism to television broadcasting.
“In 1966… somewhere far out at sea, a tsunami named television was gathering strength. When it hit the beach, everything changed,” Herold said on the play’s website.
The journey that sparked the creation of Herold’s play began in his youth, when Herold started his writing career. “I’ve always been a writer,” he said. “Even in grade school, on the school newspaper.”
After working in a variety of different writing fields, Herold went to Texas State University to earn his MFA in creative writing. It was there he realized that his favorite part of fiction writing was the dialogue, and a new career was born.
“I decided to turn my attention to an area where all the information comes directly from the characters’ mouths,” he said.
The idea for The Sports Page came from his personal experience as a sports writer in Waco. “Even though it was fun, I got the feeling that the best time to be a sports writer had already passed,” Herold said.
Herold was intrigued by the golden era of sports writing and created a play that follows the journey of Scott Young, a young journalist. He encounters a pair of crusty scribes, who are reluctant to accept the tides of change. Young also meets a beautiful female TV reporter and a football star who refuses to speak with the press.
Herold entered his play in Stage West’s 2010 Texas Play Competition, where it won first place. The prize was a script reading with actors and an audience. Once the actors had read the script, the audience was asked to fill out comment cards about their possible attendance of a full production of the play.
“For the first time ever, the cards were unanimous. Every person who filled out a card said yes!” Herold said.
The following summer, the Stage West Theater added the play to its 2011/12 season. For Herold, this was a dream come true.
“I’m so lucky I’ve got a play that premiered in Texas,” Herold said. “I wanted to commit fully to the production. I want it to be the best it can be.”
Herold has been actively involved in marketing the play through his blog and several trailer videos. One video features “Meet the Characters,” while others include interviews with sports journalists such as Mark Oristano, a veteran sportscaster.
“In Texas, football is certainly a huge part of our lives, but back then it was very rare to find games televised. Now every game is on,” Oristano said in one of the video interviews. Herold’s play allows viewers to experience the change in sports journalism that took place in the 1960s.
The Sports Page has been extremely well received, and positive reviews started rolling in just two hours after the opening night performance.
“If this show were a football play, it would be a sixty-yard completion to a wide-open receiver who walks into the end zone,” the Star-Telegram’s Punch Shaw raved. “Herold’s crisp, realistic dialogue takes the game ball here.”