Elaborate Entrance

I recently heard of a Broadway play (now off Broadway) about the world of pro wrestling called “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity” by Kristoffer Diaz.

The play has won numerous awards and many of the reviews I’ve read have been very positive, praising the exciting wrestling action, the attractiveness of the nearly naked cast, and intelligent social satire of the story.

The play is set in and around a small wrestling ring built in the theater where several matches are presented and the audience (normally silent and invisible) is encouraged to cheer and clap for the Champ: spectacular fan favorite Chad Deity.

The “Chad Deity” character is always portrayed by a muscular black man.  He is the reigning champ, worshiped by the fans, but truthfully he barely knows how to wrestle.

Deity believes that you don’t need true talent to win in America — you just need a gimmick, a buff body, some sex appeal.  But how can he sustain his current power and status (how can any man) if it is built on a fragile lie?

The secret of Deity’s success is Mace Guerra, a talented Puerto Rican wrestler who believes in pro wrestling as an art form.  He is the true hero of the story and serves as Deity’s jobber, shamelessly putting the black man over by purposely losing.

Mace willingly accepts Deity’s insults and humiliations in the ring because he wants to help tell a beautiful story.  Mace is naive and clearly being exploited.

I am curious to know if any of you have seen this play.  Where did you see it?  Was the wrestling action any good?  Was it a turn on?  Leave me a comment with your impressions of the show or give us a critique…

Another key character in the six-man cast is the slimy white businessman who owns the federation.  If ticket sales decrease, he is perfectly willing to kick his (black) wrestler to the curb and find a newer, more popular champ from among the many young (minority)  hopefuls.

The promoter represents corporate America, the exploitation of capitalism, the white male elite that forces less fortunate men to struggle and fight so the powerful can sit back, relax, and benefit from their toils.  This is ultimately the theme of “Chad Deity” — how our capitalist system, persistent racial stereotypes, and unfounded fears about foreigners have enabled the elite class to exploit, dominate politically and economically, and profit from the downtrodden masses.

I think it’s fantastic that there is a play about wrestling — I want to go see it.  I love that this show is getting praise and support from theater-goers all around!

Obviously people are drawn to the drama and excitement of men in spandex pretending to hurt and dominate each other.  It helps that the all-male cast is very attractive and built.  One YouTube video I saw featured the cast working out, glistening with sweat as a photographer snapped photos of their impressive bodies.  Yes, their physical appearance and skimpy gear helps boost ticket sales.

My only question is why go see a play about pro wrestling when you can just go see pro wrestling itself?   Why travel to New York or Chicago and pay top dollar for a ticket when you can catch the same hot action in your home town for about $10?

I think it’s funny that so many of the upper-class, elite theater-goers (who would never be caught dead at an Indy show in their local VFW hall) are seeing this play and swooning over the sexy action, the physicality, the clever social satire.  Meanwhile the typical live pro wrestling show offers the same awe-inspiring bodies in skimpy spandex, action packed homo-erotic fight scenes, and clever commentary on society, racism, exploitation, etc.

If anything, I would bet the typical pro wrestler is more skilled in the ring, more capable of telling a story with his body, than these actors.  My hope is that this play will turn a new group of people onto the beauty, excitement, and entertainment value of live pro wrestling.  Maybe seeing “Chad Deity” will inspire some in the theater to go check out a local federation and support the sport.

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One Response to Elaborate Entrance

  1. RayAtL says:

    Wow… Interesting and great reporting, Arsenal!
    I do know this play closed it’s off-broadway run in early 2011, after being nominated for the Pulitzer Prize… The show has been slowly popping up in regional theater including a run in Louisville (or was it Balitmore) where the title character was played by OVW’s Jamin Olivencia … Though this show probably takes guts for a small theater to produce (other than the obvious …)