The list of finalists for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama was an eccentric one. There was Rajiv Joseph’s Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, a play featuring a talking tiger who seeks the meaning of life. There was Sarah Ruhl’s poignant In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play, based off the anachronistic method of bringing women to orgasm when they were deemed “hysterical.” The winner that year, Next to Normal by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, was a rock musical about bipolar disorder.
But maybe the most unconventional of the bunch is Kristoffer Diaz’s The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity.
It’s about wrestling. On television. It’s also about geopolitics. And racial stereotypes. And America.
Let me back up. So, Mace is a professional wrestler, but he’s not as famous as Chad Deity, the kind of charismatic star who sells tickets and pay-per-views. Mace discovers an Indian kid who potentially has the goods to take the famous Deity down.
Shawn LaCount, Company One Artistic Director and director of Chad Deity, describes the play as “funny, muscle-y, ridiculous, sweaty, dangerous and political.”
A play like this, one would assume, must come with its share of problematic circumstances, like,
oh I don’t know, fucking wrestling on stage?
“The wrestling in this play is totally insane,” LaCount says. “They don’t fake it. We have had all the actors trained at the New England Academy of Professional Wrestling.”
(Yes, the aforementioned Academy does, indeed, exist. Wipe that smirk off your face.)
“The first time we had a test audience in rehearsals,” LaCount continues, “the audible oohs and aahs and oh-my-Gods from the audience were amazing.”
So, yes, the play contains a ton of actual wrestling stunts. But have you ever watched professional wrestling? Yeah, it’s fake and it’s rehearsed and all that, but that shit still looks like it requires a Hulk Hogan-load of strength and ability.
”Several productions before ours, in other cities, have had actors who were seriously injured. We have taken many safety precautions,
but at the end of the day, taking a power bomb is pretty hardcore.”
But underneath all of these stunts lies a thoughtful, provocative play. Whoever said you can’t mix the histrionic hijinks of professional wrestling with race and American politics?
“It takes place in a wrestling ring. It’s hilarious and it’s irreverent. It asks an audience to get a little wild.”
Now when was the last time a play asked that of you?
THE ELABORATE ENTRANCE OF CHAD DEITY
PRESENTED BY COMPANY ONE
FRIDAY 7.28.12-SATURDAY 8.25.12
BOSTON CENTER FOR THE ARTS
529 TREMONT ST.