Monthly Archives: September 2012

Your Dream Career

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity is not just for wrestling fans. The story is told through the lens of wrestling, but the lessons can apply to anyone in search of a dream career.

The play opens with Macedonio Guerra (aka Mace) recounting his childhood in the Bronx. He is a six-year-old boy playing with his brothers on Saturday morning, moments before professional wrestling airs on television. The boys play with plastic “wrestling guys” and test out wrestling moves on each other.

Mace’s grandfather walks in on the wrestling chaos in the living room and says, “It takes most people a long time to know what they love in life, Grandson.  But I think you already know.”  As a professional wrestler later in life, Mace reflects, “And he was right… I got a job doing exactly what I love.”

How amazing is that?  Don’t you wish you had a job doing exactly what you love?

A couple of years ago, blogger and author, Aidan Donnelly Rowley hosted a series of Happier Hours.  At the first one, she invited Gretchen Rubin to speak about happiness.

“She said that the people she knows who are happiest in their adult lives are pretty much doing what they were doing when they were ten. One friend used to watch endless television as a child and now he is a television writer. Another friend played with dollhouses much past the point of ‘social appropriateness’ and is now an interior decorator.

Mace watched professional wrestling on television and became one of THE Wrestlers.

Can you think back to what you loved to do as a child?  Is it incorporated in your current career?

Younger generations have tried to link passions and careers.  We no longer believe that work has to be miserable.  The old adage that they wouldn’t call it work if it was fun is not the prevailing wisdom anymore.  Young people want to find fulfillment in careers.

Mace has fulfilled his dream, but he doesn’t feel fulfilled.

Mace: …unlike other jobs where when you get really good, you become a boss or a star or you get paid more… When you get really good at the wrestling part of the wrestling business, you’re not rewarded. You’re unrewarded. …I go to the bottom in the minds of the boss because I’m losing so much, and as bad as I want to walk in to his corporate nightmare office and remind him that wrestling is not a legitimate sporting event and I am losing because he is writing scripts that tell me to lose, as bad as I want to tell my boss that, I don’t tell him nothing. Because it’s actually a good job.  A dream job.

Is it really a dream job if you are not rewarded and you are forced to hold your tongue?  Mace seems to think so, but he’s also conflicted. He wants to be appreciated for his skills and ideas. He’s living out his childhood dream, but as a kid he never knew about the behind-the-scenes politics and conflicts.

The same is true for many non-wrestlers who think they are following their passion:

“I live in the Washington, DC area, where it’s common for people to choose their profession based on their passion for an issue or ideology. Constantly refreshed with young master’s-in-policy graduates, the city easily sustains its idealistic zeal. Still, I often see those fresh with passion wilt after the day-to-day reality of ‘changing the world’ sets in. As federal employees, they’re quickly disenchanted with the bureaucratic culture of CYA that slows forward motion to a near standstill and the Kool-Aid that suffocates innovation. As consultants to the federal government, they quickly realize it’s more about keeping federal clients happy than delivering effective solutions. I once heard a consultant say, ‘I got into this because I wanted to change the world and look at me now.’ As non-profit executives, they are faced with the necessity of fundraising and the realization that even in organizations focused on a common cause, egos encumber advancement.” Figuring Out Fulfillment

I guess we have to concede that no job is perfect and even a dream career has its daily challenges.  Egos get in the way in professional wrestling and in other professions.  There are plenty of larger-than-life egos to enjoy as you watch The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Diety and see Mace struggle with the reality of working for THE Wrestling.

Have you found your dream career?  Does it align with your childhood passions?  Do you feel fulfilled?

-Teresa Philipp, Claque & Working Group Member

halfempty4now.com

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Is Wrestling Real?

In The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, larger-than-life figures emerge from darkness into the theater.  The music booms, the costumes are flamboyant, and the entertainers gyrate their way to the stage.  This is the start to a…wrestling match?

Playwright Kristoffer Diaz brings Woolly audiences into this fantastical world.  Diaz creates superstars like Chad Deity and The Fundamentalist and Old Glory; outside the theater, it is a world inhabited by professional wrestling icons like John Cena and The Great Khali and Vince McMahon.

Professional wrestling has a long and storied history.  It originated in the early 19th century, as a sideshow in vaudeville halls and travelling circuses.  Wikipedia defines it as a “spectacle combining athletics and theatrical performance.”  In 1989, McMahon admitted that the World Wrestling Federation, which he owns (now known as World Wrestling Entertainment or WWE), scripted its matches and had predetermined outcomes to its bouts.

So is wrestling real?

It is clear, to even the most casual observers, that an evening watching professional wrestling will bear little resemblance to an Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling competition. However, as an industry, professional wrestling extends far beyond the United States.  It is big business in Mexico, where masked fighters compete in the Lucha Libre style of wrestling.  It is also popular in Japan and in many smaller organizations stateside.

WWE is the unquestioned industry leader; it is the head of a billion dollar industry, and a publicly traded organization.  Its top stars are paid millions annually, and WWE performers are in the ring for hundreds of shows each year.

Professional wrestling is also an industry where the audience expects to experience a level of brutality.  In the clip below, a “hardcore” match between two WWE stars, wrestler Ric Flair is slammed repeatedly with a bed full of barbed wire.  Internationally, Japanese promotions are known for staging particularly vicious fights; this includes the “Piranha Deathmatch”, where barbed wire boards are placed in the corners, and to win, you must hold your opponent in a tank full of piranhas for ten seconds.  The fish in these matches are not toys, and Ric Flair is actually getting slammed into real metal spikes.  Does that count as real?

This fierce reality certainly has an impact on its participants.  Adam Copeland, known in wrestling circles as Edge, was forced to retire in 2011 as a result of a spinal injury sustained while wrestling.  Owen Hart, a Canadian professional wrestler, fell to his death in 1999 as he was being lowered, via harness, into a wrestling ring.  And in 2007, wrestler Chris Benoit was found dead, after having committed a double murder and suicide.  Widespread reports later indicated that Benoit, who often ended matches by jumping off the 10-foot wrestling ring rope and ramming his head into opponents’ chests, was suffering from a severe case of brain damage.

One of the most telling moments in Chad Deity comes at the close of the show. Our narrator, Macedonio “Mace” Guerra, is no longer talking. We have been told that he can be a great wrestler, and he just wants to win one bout.  And now, in his role as super-villain Che Chavez Castro, he finally has a shot to succeed.

In the closing moments, Mace has a moment of realization. He rips off his costume and speaks passionately as himself, and not as an amalgamation of three radically different Latino historical figures.  We, the audience, believe in Mace—as he is, not as the villainous caricature.  Yet moments later, Macedonio Guerra loses to Chad Deity in “record time.”

This conclusion is a reminder that Chad Deity is a play about wrestling. It’s a play that (like a WWE match) features athleticism, sportsmanship, and a scripted ending. And as the story ends, with an inspired Mace losing in historic fashion, the crowd is left to wonder; is Mace’s passion for wrestling real?  Or is his passion just another piece of spectacle for all of us?  Mace undoubtedly feels real and honest; and the more real that his actions appear to the crowd, the more we want it to be real.

 

— Eric Colchamiro, Woolly Claque member

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How To Take a Punch (Or a Kick) To The Face

ImageYou sit in the theatre, watching two men in spandex panties getting ready to throw down. You can’t help be skeptical and excited: “these are actors,” you think dubiously, “there’s no way they’re going to do real wrestling moves.” The atmosphere in the theatre is so contagious you can’t help but boo as “The Bad Guy” mouths off to the audience. Then the fight begins, and you gasp in surprise as ”The Bad Guy” is thrown into the air and comes slamming back down to the mat with the loudest “SMACK” you’ve ever heard! Real wrestling! Not just “stage combat!” How do they do it?

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity is packed full with real wrestling moves, brought to you by the Fight Choreographer Joe Isenberg and Assistant Fight Choreographer James Long (the energetic professional wrestler/cast member). Under the watchful supervision of these two, the actors learned moves like the Powerbomb and Superkick. I had to believe that there were some tricks and cheats—some stage magic that differentiated the moves on stage from the moves the real wrestlers do in the ring.

ME: “So Joe, are these moves altered in any way, like stage combat?”

JOE: “They’re real. Don’t confuse stage combat with wrestling.”

Stage combat is like a series of magic tricks; like a dance that never varies. This allows the actors to seem out of control, while never losing it. Then he said something that explained wrestling in a way that I had never looked at before:

JOE: “Wrestling is movement improv with predetermined endings.”

These professional wrestlers fight unscripted. Who wins is predetermined, but unlike stage combat, the fighting isn’t. As Mace, our protagonist and narrator, tells the audience:

 “When I’m on the attack in a wrestling match, it’s a constant process of action, reaction, and evaluation… I’m listening to the crowd and assessing how much they hate me, deciding whether my next move should be high-flying and fancy or evil and nefarious”.

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Gripped with fascination at how learning real wrestling affected the actors, I took to the dressing rooms.

When asked about tricks used in the falls, Shawn T. Andrew, who plays Chad Deity, responded playfully, “you can’t fake gravity.”

Jose Joaquin Perez, the actor who portrays Macedonio Guerra, admitted that one move terrified him: “The Powerbomb. The first time Jimmy Powerbombed me, I had to do it again right away or I’d never be able to do it for the show.” Working with James and learning the moves gave him a real appreciation for what Mace goes through as a fall guy.

“And I don’t mind that my knees hurt.

My hands hurt.

My everythings hurt.”

My respect for James Long has increased two-fold. This man throws himself around, slams down onto the mat (even concrete sometimes), and gets right back up. He plays his role beautifully and makes all the moves look amazing. When I spoke with him, he compared wrestling to going on a date: the audience dictates what direction you go in.

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Two resounding thoughts lingered after I spoke with the cast:

(1)    These moves must hurt like hell; and

(2)    This cast must really love this show.

Ashley Promisel –Lighting Assistant

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What Masks Do YOU Wear?

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Photo by David Bjorgen

Last night, after seeing The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity for the third time, I realized I couldn’t shake the image of the way Mace clutches his mask. In the entire first act, he either has his mask in his hand, in his pocket, or on his face. He wouldn’t let it go, and that was powerful. To many it may have passed by, but how tightly he held onto that piece of fabric really struck me and got me thinking.

Maybe it’s just my actor mindset, or my love for understanding how and in what ways we think about questions like “what different masks do I wear”, but I have ALWAYS thought about this. I know I have several masks. One for when I interact with my Mom and then one when we are with her side of the family. I have one mask for my dad and his side of the family. I have a different mask for both of my jobs, and a similar mask for each of my group of friends yet with subtle differences that can change dealing with each situation. I think of my masks as a Mrs. Potato Head face, you can just take off and pop on pieces that fit for the occasion. I have a lot of different masks, to say the least. Not because I choose to have different ones, but because they subconsciously slip out.

You know how it is! You grow up, you gain new experiences, you learn to accommodate to each social/professional/educational situation and somehow they appear. Before you know it you have 5, or 27 different similar but different masks to choose from. That’s life.

How many of us know all of our masks? Are you overly aware of them? Do you not notice them? Do they control you or do you control them?

These are questions that we don’t think about often. If we do, it’s every once in a long while.  Yet, we should. Wearing a different mask all the time is a lot of work! Of course we’d all like to say that “I only wear one mask and that is who I am, and I know who I am.”  Impossible.  As a productive being in this society, you will not use the same mask in every situation. You simply can’t! If you completely disagree with me, leave me a comment because you have found the secret to life.

I digress. Of course we all have core characteristics that (we hope) radiate through our masks. For example, my core characteristic, my Mrs. Potato Head face without any features on it, would be kindness. You better believe that I make that radiate through whatever mask I might have on that day.  I believe that one act of kindness can turn someone’s awful day around; and we never truly know how awful someone’s day might be. It doesn’t always stay with me: but sue me, I’m not perfect.

Kristoffer Diaz, author of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, understands all of this using a powerful metaphor. He uses wrestling, and theatre as a medium to explain these “masks” we wear. More specifically, the masks that humans of various racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds wear and the battles they face under these masks.

Many come to see this piece thinking it’s a show about wrestling, but through Diaz’s use of the mask metaphor, he has created so many layers through allowing the audience to see this work through three various different lenses; the theatre, wrestling, and humanity.  Diaz makes clear that masks in wrestling and theatre are not solely for the show. They tell the story of their “characters” life. Usually, we only see one mask in televised wrestling, and even in poorly written or performed theatre. The beauty of this piece comes from the offer Diaz laid on our table. We are given a look at Mace’s, VP’s, and even Chad’s different masks.  These men seem like caricatures, and they need to for THE business, but they are still people.

See if you can figure out the different masks they have to wear in their lives, and why. Even more importantly, see if you can find when their masks come off; when they are raw. Who knows, you might find these caricatures and the masks they wear more similar to you than you think.

We are all human, and therefore we all get caught in humdrum routines. Too often these routines make us are unaware that we use each other as props, or allow ourselves to be used. Too often are we solely fighting for ourselves and not looking out for our brothers and sisters, unlike Mace who desires communion through the creation of one perfect story.  While watching this show, take off your masks and allow yourself to be raw. It will be a nice change from that constant work to keep your masks in place and who knows? You might make some interesting connections to people you did not think you had anything in common with.

-Stacey Sulko
Marketing and Communication’s Assistant

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Chad Deity Enters…Elaborately.

Here at Woolly Mammoth things are gearing up for our season opener The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity. And what an opener it is…

Whether you’re into professional wrestling or not, CHAD DEITY has a little something for everyone: physical comedy, an underdog story, spectacle, pathos, raisin bread, etc. In addition, Connectivity has set up some drop kickin’ programming surrounding the show. Whether you fit into one of the categories below or all of them, CHAD DEITY can enter into your life in a multiplicity of elaborate ways.

For the Thinkers: Panel Discussion: Makin’ It Big as a Bad Guy

Join Sonjay DuttMarcus “King Kong” DowlingMempho Mofo, and cast member James Long’s alter ego Paredyse for a panel discussion moderated by CHAD DEITY fight choreographer, Joe Isenberg.

Google these guys. This will be a legit, fun, and interesting discussion for anyone who has ever been interested in pro wrestling, or the life of a performer. Tickets are free (!!!) and open to anyone and everyone. Grab your reservation here before it fills up.

For the gamers: POWERBOMB!: The Video Game

If you grew up in the 90s like I did, you spent a fair amount of your childhood wasting away the precious flower of your youth on flash web based browser games. In POWERBOMB! you play Mace, the protagonist of the play, who gets more point the more he makes Chad Deity look like a rockstar. This game mirrors an important premise of professional wrestling:

“You can’t kick someone’s ass without the help of the person whose ass you’re kicking.”

Mace, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, act 1,

Thank goodness that this game wasn’t released until last week, because if I’d gotten my grubby little hands on it when I was nine or ten I could’ve watched  a major portion of my adolescence swirl down the drain, hunched over a computer letting Chad Deity knock me over with his pectoral muscles. Check it out here, and make sure to give yourself a limit on how many times you play:

For the Fighters: Wrestling Clinics with Clarence Long from Hustle & Muscle Mat Club

On September 8th at 4pm & September 19th at 6:30pm Woolly will be holding wrestling clinics in our classroom. Here are three reasons why you should come:

A good work out: An hour long clinic teaching the basics of folk style wrestling. I took wrestling in a physical education class in 1st grade. My one memory of this class was having my face smashed into a mat by a girl twice my size. These clinics promise to be infinitely less humiliating and infinitely more fun.

A good cause at good price: at $10 this event is a steal. All the profits from the event go to Hustle & Muscle Mat Club, a non profit which helps young kids by teaching them wrestling in a constructive and safe environment. Showing up allows them to continue their great work in the DC area.

Everyone is welcome: All ages, and experience levels welcome to come learn a little bit more about wrestling.

To sign up for the clinics, click here.

For the Taggers: End to End: Name Your Inner Champion  

What’s in a name? For a wrestler, it’s what you represent to the world. In the 1980’s heyday of the World Wrestling Federation, stereotypes and caricatures reigned supreme. Today, representations of identity are more complex—or are they?

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In the Woolly Lobby we’re asking audience to tag the persona of their ultimate good (or bad) guy on the “concrete” wall we have set up in our lower lobby. We already have a robot (pictured above), a “Brick Fist Betty,” a “Lady Killer,” as well as some killer graff from James Long whose Paredyse tag is sure to be the envy of everyone who picks up a pen. When you come see the show make sure to tag your name on the wall, and add a little of your ultimate champion to the mix.

As you can see, there are lots of ways to get into the ring for the run of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity. Which ways will you engage the show? See you at the theatre!

Jordan Beck, Connectivity Assistant 

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