Photo Flash: First Look at THE ELABORATE ENTRANCE OF CHAD DEITY at Aurora Theatre Company

Aurora Theatre Company opens its 21st season with the coveted Bay Area Premiere of Kristoffer Diaz's smart, hilarious power-slam of a play, THE ELABORATE ENTRANCE OF CHAD DEITY. Jon Tracy makes his main stage directing debut at Aurora with this sardonic critique of pop culture and political correctness. Featuring Rod Gnapp, Tony Sancho, Beethovan Oden, Dave Maier, and Nasser Khan, THE ELABORATE ENTRANCE OF CHAD DEITY plays August 24 through September 30 at the Aurora Theatre in Berkeley. Get a first look at the production in the photos below!

In wrestling, as in life, behind every winner lies the story of a really excellent loser, but in a culture ripe with reality TV values, is swallowing one's integrity just too much to pay for the rewards of the media spotlight? Macedonio "The Mace" Guerra is a middle rank pro-wrestler who may have discovered his ticket to the big time in a charismatic, Indian kid from Brooklyn whom he recruits as the perfect foil to the All-American wresting star and champion, Chad Deity. But when their wrestling rivalry is used to exploit racial stereotypes in the name of ratings, all three men find themselves fighting for much more than just a championship title belt.

Tackling racism and body slamming globalization, this smack-down of a play is set in the world of professional wrestling. This metaphor for modern-day America received the 2011 Obie Award for Best New American Play, the Lucille Lortel Award for Best New Play, and was a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

According to playwright Kristoffer Diaz, "My first artistic love just happens to have been professional wrestling. I remember watching the original Wrestlemania on closed circuit television (and crying about how the US Express was cheated out of their tag team titles). In college, a friend of mine said 'you're a smart guy. How can you watch that crap?' And from there, this play was born. THE ELABORATE ENTRANCE OF CHAD DEITY attempts to experiment with form and content, mixing monologue, spectacle, and traditional narrative to explore what I think is a truly unique and often underutilized American art form."

Kristoffer Diaz is a playwright and educator living and working in Brooklyn. In addition to THE ELABORATE ENTRANCE OF CHAD DEITY, finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize, full-length titles for the stage include Welcome to Arroyo's, Guernica, and #therevolution. He is the recipient of the 2011 New York Times Outstanding Playwright Award, winner of the 2011 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play, the 2011 Obie Award for Best New American Play, and the inaugural Gail Merrifield Papp Fellowship from The Public Theater. His work has been produced, commissioned, and developed at The Public Theater, Dallas Theater Center, Geffen Playhouse, Center Theatre Group, Goodman Theatre, Second Stage Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Actors Theatre of Louisville, American Theater Company, Atlantic Theater Company, InterAct, Mixed Blood Theatre, The Lark, Donmar Warehouse, and South Coast Repertory. Additionally, Diaz was one of the creators of Brink!, the apprentice anthology show at the 2009 Humana Festival of New American Plays. He is a playwright-in-residence at Teatro Vista, a resident playwright at New Dramatists, a co-founder of the Unit Collective (Minneapolis), and a recipient of the Jerome Fellowship. Diaz is currently working on commissions for the Center Theatre Group, Goodman Theatre/Teatro Vista, and Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Jon Tracy is as a Bay Area director, playwright, designer, and educator. In addition to helming THE ELABORATE ENTRANCE OF CHAD DEITY at Aurora Theatre Company, Tracy developed Ron Campbell's play Sinker as part of Aurora's inaugural GAP new works festival. Additional credits include productions at Shotgun Players (The Salt Plays Pt. 1: In the Wound, The Salt Plays Pt. 2: Of the Earth); SF Playhouse (Bug, Slasher), Magic Theatre (Any Given Day); Willows Theatre (Evil Dead: The Musical); Impact Theatre (See How We Are); Marin Theatre Company; TheatreFIRST; Sonoma County Repertory; New Conservatory Theatre; and Alter Theatre Ensemble, among others. A former Artistic Associate at the Magic Theatre, Tracy is a Company Member of PlayGround, an Associate Artist at Berkeley Playhouse, and an Affiliate Artist with Marin Shakespeare Company.

Aurora Theatre Company has assembled a gifted ensemble for THE ELABORATE ENTRANCE OF CHAD DEITY. Rod Gnapp returns to Aurora Theatre Company as wrestling promoter EKO in THE ELABORATE ENTRANCE OF CHAD DEITY. Gnapp appeared in the company's hit production of Awake and Sing!; additional credits include productions at American Conservatory Theater, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, California Shakespeare Theatre, Magic Theatre, TheatreWorks, Seattle Repertory Theater, Marin Theatre Company, SF Playhouse, and Huntington Theatre, among others.

Tony Sancho makes his Aurora Theatre Company debut in THE ELABORATE ENTRANCE OF CHAD DEITY as pro-wrestler Mace. Additional credits include productions at Geffen Playhouse (THE ELABORATE ENTRANCE OF CHAD DEITY), South Coast Repertory, Steppenwolf, Mark Taper Forum, and Victory Gardens Theater, among others. Also making his Aurora debut is Beethovan Oden as wrestling star Chad Deity. Additional credits include productions at Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Victory Gardens Theater, Dallas Theater Center, Seattle Repertory Theatre, and Colorado Shakespeare Festival, among others.

Rounding out the ensemble, and making their Aurora debuts as wrestlers in THE ELABORATE ENTRANCE OF CHAD DEITY, are Dave Maier as The Bad Guy, and Nasser Khan as V.P. Maier's credits include productions at Shotgun Players (God's Plot), American Conservatory Theater, San Francisco Opera, and Seattle Repertory Theatre, among others. Khan's credits include productions at Open Fist Theatre and Diablo Valley College.

Nominated for 33 Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards for 2011, Aurora Theatre Company continues to offer challenging, literate, intelligent stage works to the Bay Area, each year increasing its reputation for top-notch theater located in the heart of the Downtown Berkeley Arts District.

For tickets, call (510) 843-4822 or visit auroratheatre.org.

Photo credit: David Allen/davidallenstudio.com.

Photo Flash: First Look at THE ELABORATE ENTRANCE OF CHAD DEITY at Aurora Theatre Company

Photo Flash: First Look at THE ELABORATE ENTRANCE OF CHAD DEITY at Aurora Theatre Company
Pro-wrestler The Bad Guy (Dave Maier)

Photo Flash: First Look at THE ELABORATE ENTRANCE OF CHAD DEITY at Aurora Theatre Company
Pro-wrestler The Bad Guy (Dave Maier)

Photo Flash: First Look at THE ELABORATE ENTRANCE OF CHAD DEITY at Aurora Theatre Company
Pro-wrestler The Bad Guy (Dave Maier)

Photo Flash: First Look at THE ELABORATE ENTRANCE OF CHAD DEITY at Aurora Theatre Company
Pro-wrestler The Bad Guy (Dave Maier)

Photo Flash: First Look at THE ELABORATE ENTRANCE OF CHAD DEITY at Aurora Theatre Company

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