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In wrestling, as in life, behind every winner lies a really excellent loser. This smart, hilarious powerslam of a play features Macedonio “The Mace” Guerra, a middle rank Puerto Rican pro-wrestler who’s made a career of being that loser. He thinks he’s found his ticket to the big time in a charismatic Indian kid from Brooklyn whom he recruits as the perfect foil to wrestling star Chad Deity. But when their wrestling rivalry is used to exploit racial stereotypes to raise ratings, Mace wonders: is swallowing his integrity too high a price for the rewards of the media spotlight? Jon Tracy directs this Pulitzer Prize finalist and Obie Award-winning critique of pop culture and political correctness that “has the delicious crackle and pop of a galloping, honest-to-God, all-American satire” (The New York Times).

Runtime: Approximately 2 hours including one 10 minute intermission.

*Member of Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers
Critics are saying
...very funny. [Playwright Kristoffer] Diaz writes sharp, crisp comedy... Director Jon Tracy keeps the story moving briskly and gets fine work from his cast. Read Full Review »
- Robert Hurwitt
San Francisco Chronicle
If you get the impression ['The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity'] is more than body slams and airplane spins, you're right... 'Chad Deity' explores the new way the United States is looking at itself and the way the rest of the world sees it... Director Jon Tracy makes good use of his talented cast to underline this on a set comprised mainly by a half-sized wrestling ring, from which the ideas seem to boil. Read Full Review »
- Pat Craig
San Jose Mercury News/Bay Area News Group
You don’t have to like wrestling to love "The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity"... Kristoffer Diaz’s visceral satire, currently making its Bay Area premiere at the Aurora Theatre Co., brings big-time wrestling onstage in eminently theatrical style. Read Full Review »
- Georgia Rowe
SF Examiner
[The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity] offers all the carnal thrills of seeing a real match from ringside seats but also the more refined pleasures of high art: complex characters, resonant themes, poetic writing, and an action-packed story. Read Full Review »
- Lily Janiak and Benjamin Wachs
SF Weekly
Theater is usually populated by the old, white, and privileged. But “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity” is for a different demographic. It references contemporary rappers, multiple languages, modern technology and slang from the streets...Finally, here is a pointed, poignant play for the general public. Read Full Review »
- Kanwalroop Singh
Daily Californian
Aurora theatergoers have ringside seats to see the Bay Area premiere of Kristoffer Diaz’s vibrant and dynamic 2010 play, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, titularly about wrestling, but actually a comic drama examining racial politics in the U.S. and larger questions of good and evil. Don’t be turned off to this production if you’re not a fan of wrestling. Read Full Review »
- Emily Mendel
The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity is one of the smartest, funniest shows of 2012...This Aurora Theatre Bay Area premiere of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity put playwright Kristoffer Diaz on my list of people to follow. Read Full Review »
- Cy Ashley Webb
Stark Insider
This is a very different kind of show for the Aurora, and that’s fantastic. Some companies open their seasons with a bang... The Aurora opens its season with a theatrical ass-whoopin’, but that’s OK. They have full permission from the smiling audience to whoop its collective ass. Read Full Review »
- Chad Jones
Aurora Theatre Company’s Bay Area premiere production is dazzling, sharply staged by Jon Tracy... it’s awfully entertaining in the writing, the performance and the production’s a win. Read Full Review »
- Sam Hurwitt
The Idiolect
The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity' is Alive. Vibrant. Crackling with strobes and swirling spotlights and hip-hop sounds and huge videos and most of all with human energy... it sizzles Read Full Review »
- Leo Stutzin
The Huffington Post
Who will love this play? Anyone who’s ever had to play second fiddle, just to stay in the orchestra. Anyone who’s ever been a true believer in a job, cause or relationship that didn’t ultimately reciprocate. Anyone who’s knowingly cast themselves in a role performing as less than they are. See it now... Read Full Review »
- Rhonda Schrader
Dogmom's Dish
The play [The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity], by Kristoffer Diaz, is a satirical comedy that employs the body-slamming physicality of an unusual American art form (yes, art form) to make points about, among other things, racism. Read Full Review »
- Chad Jones
SF Chronicle
The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity... takes on pro wrestling, racism, and class. Staging it was challenging, [Playwright Kristoffer] Diaz said, but that's the play he was interested in writing... He thinks audiences can connect to the spectacle of pro wrestling in the play. Read Full Review »
- Emily Wilson
SF Weekly
Behind the Scenes/Chad Deity

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity

  • Rod Gnapp* - Everett K. “EKO” Olson/Ring Announcer
  • Nasser Khan - Vigneshwar “VP” Paduar
  • Dave Maier* - The Bad Guy/Billy Heartland/Old Glory
  • Beethovan Oden* - Chad Deity
  • Tony Sancho* - Macedonio “The Mace” Guerra
  • Nina Ball - Set Designer
  • Kurt Landisman+ - Light Designer
  • Angela Nostrand* - Stage Manager
  • Maggie Whitaker - Costume Designer
  • Mia Baxter, Seren Helday - Properties
  • Jessica Heidt - Casting Director
  • Cliff Caruthers+ - Sound Designer
  • Jim Gross - Video Designer
  • Dave Maier* - Fight Director
DAVID MAIER* has composed violence for Aurora Theatre Company productions Collapse andThe First Grade. He is ecstatic to be making his Aurora acting debut. He was recently seen in God’s Plot (Shotgun Players) and Cyrano de Bergerac (SF Opera) where he served as fight double for Placido Domingo. His award-winning fight direction career includes credits at Berkeley Rep, ACT, San Jose Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, SF Playhouse, Berkeley Playhouse, Magic Theatre and Impact Theatre, among others. He is the resident fight director at Cal Shakes and a company member with Shotgun Players. Dave is a founding member of Dueling Arts San Francisco and is currently teaching combat related courses at Berkeley Rep School of Theatre.
BEETHOVAN ODEN* is blissful too return too the Bay Area theatre community and enthusiastic to make his debut at Aurora Theatre Company. Mr. Oden is a native of Oakland, California and a graduate of Cornish College of the Arts (B.F.A) and Southern Methodist University (M.F.A in Acting). Regional credits: Victory Gardens Theatre (My Children! My Africa!), Dallas Theater Center (Henry pt 1&2), Seattle Repertory (Anna in the Tropics), Colorado Shakespeare (Our Town), Southern Methodist University Margo Jones Theatre (Othello), Shakespeare Santa Cruz (The Comedy of Errors).
TONY SANCHO* is so excited to make his Bay Area debut with Aurora Theatre Company. Based in Los Angeles, Tony has been fortunate to work with Center Theatre Group’s Mark Taper Forum, South Coast Repertory, Need Theater, and Ojai Playwrights Conference. This Chicago native has also performed with Steppenwolf, The Goodman Theater, Drury Lane, Victory Gardens and with his ensemble, Teatro Vista. Tony’s film and television credits include ABC’s The Forgotten, his award-winning film On the Downlow, ER, and the new comedy The Baby Makers. Tony wants to thank his wife and daughters for their amazingly adventurous nature.
ROD GNAPP* is pleased to return to Aurora, where he was previously seen in Awake and Sing!. A graduate of the American Conservatory Theater’s MFA program and a veteran of Bay Area stages, Mr. Gnapp’s recent credits include: Annapurna, What We’re Up Against, Goldfish, Mrs. Whitney and Mauritius at the Magic Theatre, The Taming of the Shrew, Mrs. Warren’s Profession and The Pastures of Heaven at Cal Shakes; The Caucasian Chalk Circle and Scapin at American Conservatory Theater; Tiny Alice at Marin Theatre Company; and Behanding in Spokane at the SF Playhouse. Mr. Gnapp can be seen as a bad guy in the independent feature film Touching Home by the Miller Brothers, with Ed Harris. He can also be seen in Valley of the Hearts Delite, a local independent feature, as the bad guy.
NASSER KHAN is excited to be working at Aurora Theatre Company. A company member of The Open Fist Theatre in Los Angeles, Nasser has been seen in their productions of Machinal, Early and Often, and Modigliani. He can be seen online in various CollegeHumor shorts.
*Member of Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers

Wrestlemania Through the Ages

by Josh Costello, Literary Manager 

Human beings have been wrestling—and have been entertained by wrestling— throughout recorded history. The spectacle of two human bodies engaged in direct physical struggle has always fascinated and inspired us. The Greeks formalized the rules of wrestling and made it an Olympic event in 708 BCE—but references to wrestling as public spectacle appear as far back as The Iliad and the Epic of Gilgamesh.

Human beings have been acting out stories for each other throughout history as well. Over the past century or so, professional wrestling has come to rely more and more on story and character. Athleticism and violence are still central to the appeal, but today’s stadium-filling, pay-per-view, professional wrestling events also tell intricate stories with fascinating characters. Like the commedia performers of Renaissance Italy, professional wrestlers improvise within a predetermined structure, delivering speeches and performing physical feats in service of a story.

Competitive wrestling still exists in our culture (in the Olympics, for example, and in school programs), but professional wrestling has taken a different path, moving so much in the direction of theatre that in the 1980s World Wrestling Federation president Vince McMahon coined the term “sports entertainment” to describe his product. With The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, playwright Kristoffer Diaz takes this a step further, bringing together the spectacle of professional wrestling with the language and intimacy of live theatre.

ca.1194–1184 BCE The Iliad - Odysseus wrestles Ajax to a draw as a part of the funeral games for Patroclus.

Ancient Rome - Middle Ages Wrestling matches delight audiences in ancient Rome, and matches featuring local champions continue through the Middle Ages.

708 BCE Wrestling is added to the Olympic games. Greek_wrestlers

648 BCE Pankration, a more violent and modern form of wrestling with less restrictions (only biting and eye-gouging are forbidden), appears at 33rd Olympiad. Pankration is said to have been invented by ancient Greek heroes such as Theseus and Heracles.

1599 ADAs_You_Like_It Shakespeare includes a wrestling match in As You Like It.

1600s Sporting events are slow to gain popularity in New England due to the Puritans' general distrust of secular entertainment.

1776 George Washington promotes wrestling to encourage his soldiers' physical fitness during the American Revolution.

- Irish immigrants to the United States contribute to a rise in wrestling's popularity.
- Young Abraham Lincoln fights in 300 matches.
- Civil War soldiers hold wrestling matches to relieve the tedium of camp life.
- Wrestling exhibitions are popular at traveling carnivals, complete with colorful characters with their own storylines. By the 1880s, matches seem to have become largely staged as opposed to true competitions.

1920s ImageThe advent of "Slam-Bang Western Style Wrestling," increasing the pace of matches and adding flashier moves such as body slams. A group of promoters known as The Gold Dust Trio retains wrestlers (such as Ed "Strangler" Lewis) on longer contracts, enabling more involved feuds, storylines, and character development. Outcomes are predetermined, with heavy emphasis on dramatic finishing moves.

1950s The advent of televised wrestling. Gorgeous George dominates the ring with his flamboyant moves and entrances set to music.

1980s Vince McMahon expands the WWF nationally, coins the term "sports entertainment."

1985 Hulk_HoganFirst annual Wrestlemania, a national pay-per-view event, features appearances by Liberace and Muhammad Ali as well as the top wrestlers of the day.

1990s Wrestlemania and the WWF continue to dominate the national wrestling scene, featuring stars such as The Undertaker, Bret Hart, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and The Rock Storylines and character development -- feuds, switching sides, backstage drama -- become more central.

1995 Beginning of the Monday Night Wars; television shows from the WWF and Ted Turner’s World Championship Wrestling (WCW) compete for viewers on Monday nights.

2002 WWF changes its name to WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) to avoid legal troubles with the World Wildlife Fund.

2004 Mark Compani makes his WWE debut as Muhammad Hassan, an Arab-American character that would go on to inspire considerable controversy (as well as a mention in The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity).

Now WWE has gone PG, attempting to increase its appeal to women and children.

production photos
Photos by David Allen
*Member of Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers
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