Dallas Theater Center's next main event sounds like a knockout. Or, more accurately, it hopes to bring the "white heat."
Kristoffer Diaz' Pulitzer-finalist play The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, opening October 19 for 26 performances at the Wyly Theatre, is set in the world of professional wrestling, where "white heat" means a boisterous audience response to the matches. Directed by Jaime Castañeda, the show looks at the art and the business of televised wrestling, with characters playing the heroes who win and the professional "heels" paid to lose. It's all a metaphor for politics and class warfare, says DTC artistic director Kevin Moriarty -- topics that couldn't be timelier.
At a meet and greet with the cast and crew this week, Moriarty and Castañeda revealed some intriguing moves the theater is making to create an authentic atmosphere for the action-packed production. Here are the top eight:
1. Reconfiguring the Wyly to place 423 audience seats around a wrestling ring in the middle of the space, designed by scenic artist Tak Kata. "I want the audience to feel like they're at a sporting event, not a play," says Jaime Castañeda. It will take five days to construct the ring inside the theater. Rehearsals are taking place in a ring built temporarily onstage at Kalita Humphreys Theater, DTC's former home.
2. Using four Jumbotron-like screens during performances, beaming the live action as it happens in the ring.
3. Employing confetti cannons and loud music, just like the WWE.
4. Making video biographies of the wrestler characters, shot on location in Dallas, that will introduce them just like on Monday Night Raw.
5. Splitting sections of seats electronically during the show to make way for the splashy entrances of the wrestlers.
6. Casting Jamin Olivencia, a former professional wrestler, to play several characters and to choreograph all the wrestling moves in the play. (There's only one local actor in the five-man cast, new DTC company member Michael Connolly. The others are imports from NYC.)
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7. Allowing approximately 840 students from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts to observe rehearsals from day one as part of DTC's Project Discovery program. (They're hoping the show is a big hit with younger audiences.)
8. Offering free tickets at two matinees, October 27 and 28. Any unsold tickets at the 2 p.m. performances on that Saturday and Sunday will be given away on a first-come basis, starting at 1 p.m. each day at the Wyly box office. (Regular tickets top out at $70 each for ringside seats.)
9. Putting the PowerBomb video game on the DTC web site to allow an "interactive experience" with characters in the play.
The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity plays October 19-November 11 at the Wyly Theatre, ATTPAC, 2400 Flora St. For tickets, 214-880-0202 or http://www.attpac.org.