Playwright Diaz wins ATC’s 2008 Latino award
Arizona Theatre Company has selected a Puerto Rican playwright with a “hip-hop flair” as the winner of its 2008 National Latino Playwriting Award.
Kristoffer Diaz’s winning entry was The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, a work with a main character called The Mace, a Puerto Rican pro wrestler from the Bronx. The play takes a “comic look at pro wrestling, geopolitics and raisin bread.”
Arizona Theatre’s Company’s National Latino Playwriting Award annually recognizes an outstanding work by a Latino playwright. The winner receives $1,000. Diaz earned an MFA from New York University’s Department of Dramatic Writing.
The plot of Chad Deity has The Mace being the stepping stone for other pro wrestlers whose stars are rising in wrestling association ranks. Hitting the top means big bucks and fame. The Mace is resigned to his role until he discovers a young Indian American kid with natural talent, and tries to push this un-American looking hero to be a champion.
“The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity stood out among this year’s entries with its dazzling language and hip-hop flair,” says Elaine Romero, ATC’s playwright in residence.
“You never know where Kristoffer Diaz character rants are going to take you, but when you get there, you know he’s laid the groundwork just right. Diaz has an astute ear for the music of his characters and a deep connection to their plights as people of color in the black and white world of pro-wrestling.
“What are a couple of brown men with hopes supposed to do in a world where the All-American hero is always supposed to win? Part nostalgia/part barrio kid’s dream, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity wears its politics under the thick skin of its characters. The play never pushes too hard to make its political points, but drives them swiftly home all the same.”
Some of the Brooklyn-based playwright and educator’s other works incorporate hip-hop rhythms and culture, including Welcome to Arroyo’s, presented at the Hip-Hop Theater Festival’s Critical Breaks series. Arroyo’s will be published in 2009 in the first major anthology of hip-hip theater.
Other finalists in the 2008 ATC competition included playwrights Karina Arroyave, Anne Garcia-Romero, Tony Meneses and Beto O’Byrne.