Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Three preview down and the show is moving along great.  Some changes are being made, videos are being worked on and the audiences are loving it. 3 previews, and three standing ovations already.

Here is a link to a blog an audience member wrote about the show. She reviewed it and loved it!

– Usman Ally (Vigneshwar Padujar, aka VP in THE ELABORATE ENTRANCE OF CHAD DEITY

To visit Usman’s blog, click here.

For more on Chad Deity, click here.

Buy tickets now!  Call 773.871.3000!


More Rehearsal Pictures from Chad Deity

After a retreat, I come home (home?) to Chicago, and this is what’s waiting for me:

Chad Deity SetAnd yes, I immediately climbed into it and bounced off the ropes. Words cannot express what it feels like to discover your own personal wrestling ring.

And after a few days of playing with it, we came back after a day off to discover…this:

Chad Deity SetAnd yes, my mind is starting to be blown.

It takes a whole lot of paint to pull this back wall off.

PaintAnd it’s all got to be labeled to keep it straight. Graf and scorpions — could we be any more masculine?

Back WallIt’s not in my contract that all my shows have to have some graffiti on the set, but it’s getting pretty close.

The RingOur turnbuckles now have pads, and our ring mat now has a cover.

Wrestling GuysAnd it’s all overseen by the wrestling guys. Not dolls, not action figures. Wrestling guys. Corporal Kirschner, Tazz (WWF spelling), and…well, some guy. No one can figure out who he is.

– Kristoffer Diaz

For more pictures and thoughts from Kristoffer, visit his blog here.

Random Reflections of a Third Rate Mind

One day after rehearsal, my cast mates and I went out to a bar. There was a football game on the television. My eyes were glazing over, but Allan turned to us and said (and I’m paraphrasing, but essentially this is what he said)  “You know, that’s just awesome. When you see a perfect play like that. When everyone on the team is moving together, and makes it happen, and it doesn’t matter what the obstacles are. Everyone is breathing together. That’s exactly why I love theatre. There’s all these obstacles and things to get through and figure out, but when it works, you’re all moving and breathing together.”

I love that. There is fierce grace, beauty, and power in theatre. And what always hits me is how unbelievably short, fleeting, and precious that time is.  That is what makes theatre different from film. It is the alchemy of live people in front of a live audience in that present moment. And as our playwright said, when it’s good, it’s great. That energy, that communion, is palpable. And it’s always overwhelming for me, at the end of a run. The four weeks always seem so short, to have gone by so quickly. And when it’s over, it’s over. You never get that again, you never get to live in that world, to be that person, to live in the chemistry of those particular people in that particular way, ever again. It always leaves me feeling a little bereft and melancholy.

This show was part of two different staged reading series last year. So that means we work-shopped this play for six months before we even began rehearsals. It’s incredibly rare to get to live with a script for that long. And that was a gift. There is a commitment, energy, dedication and investment I feel for this play that would not have been there without those six months.

Another thought: this show deals with genocide. As a result, I’m watching films like The Killing Fields, and I’m reading autobiographical books like To the End of Hell and First They Killed My Father.  But the biggest thing I learned was this quote “Our revenge will be the laughter of our children.” Our playwright put that at the top of our script. And he said, our first day or rehearsal, that he wanted there to be a lot of laughter. That it is about strength, resilience, and regeneration. Not wallowing in a torpor of self-pity.

Through the rehearsal process I got to meet Ty Tim, a survivor of the Pol Pot regime. I also met an attorney who spent four months in Cambodia, working for the United Nations, in the trial prosecuting Duch, who ran the infamous S-21 prison. And I get to be the one to help tell these stories. That is a privilege I never take lightly or for granted. And I love getting to tell these stories. I love the mess. I love the raw, absolute lack of composure. Mamet wrote “…acting is not a genteel profession. Actors used to be buried at the crossroads with a stake through their heart. Their presence so troubled their onlookers…that they feared their ghosts.” And when I think of Ty Tim and others I met, or read about, that’s what I aim for. That’s what I think it takes to do their story justice. And that’s what I dedicate myself to, with all my love, with all my heart and soul, with everything I am.

– Jen Shin (Ra from Year Zero)

*Congratulations to Jen and the cast and crew of Year Zero on their tremendous opening night!  The following is a picture from the evening.  For the full album of pictures, visit us on facebook!*

Year Zero Opening Night

Year Zero Opening Night

Chad Deity Pictures!

Check out some of these pictures from the The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity’s first rehearsal:

Learning to Wrestle

Learning to Wrestle

Read Through

Read Through

Check out Kristoffer Diaz’s blog for more pictures and thoughts on THE ELABORATE ENTRANCE OF CHAD DEITY.

We Built It and They’re Here


Our first Year Zero preview was last night. The real costumes, the real lights were used. The real In-N-Out cups were used. The real skull was used.

Then real people showed up to watch it. That was the most exciting part — seeing real people react to this thing you’ve crafted together.

Putting together a show is like building an extremely complicated machine; you design it, revise it, focus and augment it. And finally you hit the big red START button and see if it runs.

And then it runs, and you’ve got people there paying to see it. You really hope they like it.

And when they like it, it’s one of the best feelings in the world.

(More Year Zero pics here.)


We had a great first preview. A great turnout, and a real diverse mix of people: Old, young, black, white. We got some nice responses, great laughs, and storywise, they were with us the entire time. This was an especially auspicious show because it was the very first show ever in Victory Gardens’ new 120 seat studio theater.

Now we’ve still got a ways to go — things are still coming together. The car (yes, there’s a car in the show!) used to squeak; they fixed it, but now it creaks. The speaker under the TV in the set that plays ambient noise got disconnected somehow and wasn’t working. Transitions are being tightened. I’ve made adjustments to some of the lines and the skull is dutifully memorizing them.

We’ve got eight more preview shows to go including tonight’s show. Then opening, then the actual run itself. But this thing’s actually coming together. It’s kind of crazy, kind of neat.

Also we had the Victory Gardens season preview today. They did snippets from all the shows that are going up this season.

I wanna say something real quick about Chad Deity: The entrance is indeed Elaborate, and it is highly Electrifying! They wrestled up there! There was a powerbomb! They built a freakin wrestling ring up on the stage!!!

Plus when the titular character (Chad Diety, played by our good friend Kamal), came out onstage he was tossing hundred dollar bills into the crowd. HUNDRED DOLLAR BILLS. This is how I wish to make entrances from now on.

Note to propmaster: Chad Diety’s bills should have Chad Diety on them instead of Ben Franklin.

– Michael Golamco

For more from Michael, visit his blog at

You Got Two Seconds Before I Smack You In The Mouth

Stage Combat

Slap Happiness: So Year Zero has a scene where a character smacks another character in the mouth. This happens three times in quick order, so this required the presence of a fight coordinator. The fight coordinator’s job is to A) make sure that the slaps look like they hurt, and to B) make sure the slaps don’t actually hurt. This is a difficult proposition when you consider that this is being done live and on stage, and without the benefit of camera tricks or editing.

Enter David Woolley, our fight coordinator. All the fight coordinators I’ve known have been incredibly cool people — Mr. Woolley is no exception. Andi Dymond, our director, showed him the basic blocking of the scene — where and when the slaps happen. David Woolley immediately put together a plan and executed it, choreographing the entire sequence, slaps and all.

This guy is a whirlwind of motion. “Okay, you’re gonna chase him over here, grab his backpack and pull on it — I mean REALLY pull on it. Don’t just yank it, take it out of his hands. Okay, great! Now he’s gonna try to make it into his bedroom — an old trick he’s been pulling for years, YEARS, but you’re onto him. So you stop him right HERE, push him back to center -”

And then there were the slaps. It takes two to make a slap go right: The slapper throws her arm behind the face of the slapee — not making any actual physical contact, of course — but creating the kinetic motion that the viewer’s eye perceives as the attack. It’s up to the slapee to actually make the SMACK noise, recoil, to perhaps squeal an AEIOU-and-sometimes-Y sound to add inflection to the attack.

And when the two come together, the whole thing looks great. And the intensity they add is pretty freakin cool. Those slaps hurt!
Action Figures

If you think that’s exciting, then now’s a good time to segue into the show that’s running alongside Year Zero at Victory Gardens: THE ELABORATE ENTRANCE OF CHAD DIETY by Kristoffer Diaz

This play is about the spectacle and showmanship of professional wrestling, and it offers tons of stage combat — people getting hit by chairs, powerbombing and bodyslamming each other. And if you look beyond the pure sports entertainment value of this show, you’ll find a brilliant play about superstars and jobbers: The no-name wrestlers whose job it is to make the superstars look good — and who are often the more skilled and capable athletes.

Remember what I said above about how it takes two to make a slap go right? That’s the essence of professional wrestling, and the core of CHAD DIETY. It’s a great show and you gotta see it.

– Michael Golamco

Visit Michael Golamco’s blog at

Historical Artifacts

Historical Artifacts - BLOG

Field Trip: Victory Gardens arranged for the company to take a trip down to the Cambodian Heritage Museum run by the Cambodian Association of Illinois. This was a welcome break from hanging out in a rehearsal room all day.

I got there an hour early so I could walk around the neighborhood which is apparently called Lincoln Square. Chicagoans: I’m an out of towner, so please bear with me. Your place names are strange and unusual to me — I’m from California, and more used to the Spanish names of saints.

Anyway, this is what I love about any big American city: The streets are a pastiche of good things from all the corners of the earth. While I was waiting around I got a chorizo torta. It cost $3.50. It came with chips and two types of salsa, and it was gooood. I consumed it with dos Diet Cokes. Across the street there were a couple of Korean joints — those will be investigated on a later trip.

So we all met up at the Cambodian Heritage Museum, took the tour. Saw artifacts of everyday life in Cambodia — much of which has changed very little in the last few hundreds of years. A huge wooden rice grinder, sickles and baskets — most people are still subsistence farmers. Industrialization and globalization have arrived on the country’s doorstep, along with all the good and ill they bring with them.

What was most touching to all of us was when our guide — a man in his sixties, maybe my father’s age — told us the story of his own life under the Khmer Rouge. He was a school teacher before them. But during their rule they worked him in the fields like so many others were literally worked to death.

And then, slowly, haltingly, he told us the story of how he was caught by Khmer Rouge soldiers and accused of stealing food.

To punish him, they used pliers to pull out his teeth.

It’s when someone is telling you their own history — their tragedies, the everyday pieces of their lives — that history itself becomes personal. To write this play I had read facts and statistics, autobiographies. But it wasn’t until this moment that I had heard someone’s story of survival told to me in their own voice.

It’s something I’ll never forget.

It made everything real for me. Because this play is about personal history and how it’s told — about how it’s passed from person to person so that we can understand something about the past. Maybe not quite understand evil — who could? But maybe we might begin to understand how people can endure evil, and what we can do to confront it.

And here was this man, our guide, who had somehow survived when two million others had died. Who somehow made it all the way from Cambodia to this huge American city, for better or worse. But he had survived, and had become a teacher once again.

So it was a pretty good day. Because it reminded me of all those who died, but also let me know that others lived.

And they continue on, telling their stories.

– Michael Golamco

Visit Michael Golamco’s blog at