Here is the program for our current production: The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity

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Cohesion Theatre Company proudly presents

THE ELABORATE ENTRANCE OF CHAD DEITY
By Kristoffer Diaz
Directed by Daniel Douek
Stage Manager: Alliyah Corley

There will be one 15 minute intermission

CAST
Christian Gonzalez ………………………..…. MACE
Tim German …………………………………..….. CHAD DEITY
Jehan Sterling Silva ……………………..….. V.P.
Jason Hentrich ……………………………….…. E.K.O.
Fred Fletcher-Jackson …........................ Bad Guy/Billy Heartland/Old Glory
Matthew Casella ……………………………….. Referee

ARTISTIC AND PRODUCTION STAFF

Daniel Douek ……………………………..………. Director
Jeff Miller ………………………………....………… Assistant Director
Alliyah Corley …………………………...…..…… Stage Manager
Fred Fletcher-Jackson …………………….… Dramaturg
Helenmary Ball ………………………...……….. Costume Designer
Serafina Donahue …............................….. Lighting Designer / Projection Designer
Jehan Sterling Silva …………...………........ Video Creation / Editing
Michael Rasinski ………………………..…...… Scenic Designer
Navid Azeez & Ryan Buell ………………... Music Compositions
Joseph Grasso ……………………………...….... Pro-Wrestling Trainer
Jonathan Ezra Rubin …………………..…….. Fight Choreographer
Jess Rassp ………………..........................….. Technical Director / Scenic Charge
Caitlin Carbone …………………………......…. Production Manager

The Wrestling Ring and Special Training were provided by Renaissance Rumble. Be sure to catch their performances at the Maryland Renaissance Faire this Summer! facebook.com/renaissancerumble

SPECIAL THANKS

United Evangelical Church,  Renaissance Rumble, Jimmy Giegerich Illustration, Pizza Party Printing, Meghan Stanton, Mika Nakano, Baltimore Center Stage, CCBC, Tamar Geist, Marcia Norris, and all who helped us to make this production possible. 

The Cohesion Staff thank you for a wonderful 4th Season!
- Caitlin Carbone, Zoe DiGiorgio, Betse Lyons, Brad Norris, and Jess Rassp

Coming This Summer

The Culmination of Cohesion’s Second Annual Playwright Fellowships ends with a public workshop showing of two new plays that have been cultivated all season long as part of our Fellowship Program.

Infertile Ground
By Aladrian Wetzel
Directed by Katie Hileman
July 14 &15, 2018

Safe Space
By R. Eric Thomas
Directed by Ben Kleymeyer
July 21 & 22, 2018

Later this summer, Cohesion will also present the winner of our recent competition fundraiser: Jeff Miller’s Pirate Macbeth! It   promises to be a one-night-only swashbuckling Shakespearean murderfest on the high seas of the highlands of Scotland!!!!
More details coming soon!!!!


Dramaturgy Note:

When discussing the role of professional wrestling in modern American culture, we have to point out the fact that despite its spectacle and absurdity, and despite the WWE's endless forays into other entertainment mediums, at its root, professional wrestling is storytelling- just like any other fictitious (yes...sorry if I just shattered your dreams) work of media we consume. A textbook wrestling feud will feature the heel (bad guy, motivated by selfishness and corruption, the one we're expected to boo) tormenting the babyface (good guy, pure of heart and always stands up for the right thing, we're supposed to cheer for him) for weeks until they finally meet in a grueling match and the heel ultimately gets his comeuppance. While more recent wrestling has sought to humanize its characters more and blur the heel/face line, a wrestling story with a good guy/bad guy dynamic still rarely fails when done right. 

If there's one thing more constant in wrestling than the stories, it's the gimmicks. Broadly speaking, a wrestler's "gimmick" is their character- where they come from, why they wrestle, the outfit they wear, the way they talk, etc. A wrestler with a gimmick is out to get your attention. Gimmicks can have a basis in reality (anti-authority redneck sick of his boss), or can be completely cartoonish and outrageous (an undead wizard). 

The problem with wrestling gimmicks, as Mace points out, is that when a team of predominantly white men concocts gimmicks for minority wrestlers, they can often play to uncomfortable stereotypes and inaccuracies (the Mexicools, a group of Mexican lawn mowers), or even misrepresent those groups by having a Caucasian wrestler play a minority character (Akeem “The African Dream", an African played by a white man). 

To complicate things further, culturally offensive gimmicks are heavily correlated with American patriotism. Love of America has always been highly marketable in mainstream wrestling. The WWE and the average WWE fan love their country, and have always jumped at the opportunity to throw their support behind the All-American gimmicks (Hulk Hogan, The Patriot, Kurt Angle to name a few) and chant “U-S-A! U-S-A!” While booing the foreign character who talks about how much they hate America, always written to be the heel (The Iron Sheik, General Adnan, Tiger Ali Singh, Muhammad Hassan, or more recently Jinder Mahal). 

This over-Americanization of minorities is not a problem exclusive to wrestling. In 2017, prior to the Oscars that year, Amrou Al-Kadhi, an actor of Arab heritage, wrote an article claiming that in his career, he had been asked to read for a terrorist role 30 times. He also claims that he was encouraged to use his ethnicity as a playing card, admitting that post-9/11 there are more roles for Arabs than ever. 

There’s a perfect example of this post-9/11 phenomenon in wrestling as well- Muhammad Hassan. Muhammad Hassan was introduced to the WWE in 2005- an Arab-American (although played by a real-life Italian) who spoke every week of how he was tired of the way he and his people were treated since 9/11. As uncomfortable and offensive as the gimmick was, it garnered the exact response that the WWE wanted- total genuine hatred. Muhammad Hassan was, objectively, one of the most successful wrestling heels of the modern era, and was almost certainly destined for a run as World champion (that didn’t happen though, Google him and you’ll find out why pretty quickly). 

How do wrestling fans feel about these overgeneralized foreign gimmicks? While pro-wrestling in 2018 boasts a very diverse fan base, it's worth noting that during the WWE's most successful era (1998-2001), white males aged 18 to 35 comprised nearly half of their viewers. And that demographic still remains their most passionate and vocal audience members. 

While blatantly racist gimmicks are less of a problem in 2018, now that WWE is PG-rated and more sensitive to the fact that racism is not good for business, the sense of humor of those in charge in WWE (namely Vince McMahon, its owner and chief creative influence) has not evolved much in the last few decades, as we see evidenced by a recent segment on Smackdown where Jinder Mahal made shockingly dated and distasteful jokes towards his opponent Shinsuke Nakamura, a Japanese man. 

WWE's relationship with real-world racism is an odd one. In recent years, every February, WWE would air segments dedicated to Black History Month, where they would highlight some of the most successful African-American wrestlers in history. They'd also have some of their present day talent visit civil rights museums, showing them talking about the struggles endured by civil rights leaders. On Martin Luther King Jr day, Vince McMahon tweeted a tribute to King, calling him his "hero". 

While admirable, glaringly absent from these segments were any discussion of racism in America today. It felt very much like the WWE treats racism as an issue of the past. And in their defense, WWE's fans are, much like America, very politically divided. It would cause an uproar if WWE or any of its talent showed support for, or so much as mentioned, Black Lives Matter on television. 

So what do we do about this? Vince McMahon says he's going to live forever (and with how seriously he takes fitness, he might come close), and he loves what he does, so he's not going anywhere anytime soon. Even then, who will take reigns when he is gone, and how exactly they'll run the business, are questions we don't conclusively know the answer to yet. Now of course, there's an entire world of wrestling out there beyond the WWE that we can appreciate, but for us WWE-centrists who want the company to be better, and even for non-wrestling fans who want better stories and better cultural representation from American entertainment, what do we do?

There are flashes of positivity in how much the WWE audience, regardless of political leaning, refuses to be complicit. This year, when the company was going to name one of their Wrestlemania women's matches in honor of the late The Fabulous Moolah, a wrestler/promoter widely believed to have pimped, drugged and mentally abused her female employees, fans were very vocal about their disapproval. Within a week, the name Fabulous Moolah was removed from promotions of the match. 

If wrestling fans and non-wrestling fans can similarly come together in agreement that racism is still an issue (and an unfunny one) in America in 2018, and that primarily using minority performers as antagonists in plots motivated by jingoistic American ideals is lazy and problematic storytelling, there is certainly hope for people like Macedonio Guerra and Vigneshwar Paduar. We must always demand better of the people who entertain us.

- Fred Fletcher-Jackson


BIOGRAPHIES

Christian Gonzalez (MACE) is excited to return to Cohesion Theater! Recent credits include La Llorona/Orphan Sea (Gatekeeper/Odysseus Chorus) Cohesion Theatre, The Rocky Horror Show (Riff Raff) Iron Crow Theatre, In the Heights (The Piragua Guy) ASGT, The Full Monty (Malcom) ASGT, Joseph…Dreamcoat (Joseph) Miracle Players, The Rocky Horror Show (Brad) H.D.Y.L.M.N Productions, 50 years under the stars (performer) ASGT, Rent (Collins) ASGT and The Addams Family (The Gambler) ASGT. Christian would like to thank the cast and crew for all their hard work and collaboration. He wants to thank Daniel for pushing us to be the best we can be. He also sends a BIG thank you to his friends (thank you for not disowning me) and his TEK Systems team (Thank you for indulging my Diva Complex). Last but not least, a big thanks to Sean for all the support, love and cookies. Enjoy the show!

Tim German (Chad Deity) is A Second City Trained Comedic Actor from Maryland, and a member of Training 4 Prom, one of the Baltimore Improv Group's mainstage troupes. Previous Credits include: A recurring cast member in the Baltimore Improv Group's Unscripted: A Fully Improvised Play; Usnavi in In The Heights and Mark in Rent at Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre; and Cord in Spark at Adventure Stage Chicago, Edmund in Lear at Single Carrot Theatre, and Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web at Imagination Stage.

Jehan Silva (VP/ Video Designer) is overjoyed to be joining the cast of Chad Deity for his first show with Cohesion Theatre Company. Selected credits: Cinderella's Prince in Into the Woods (MCSDT) and Terry in Side Show (MCSDT). He would like to thank the cast, crew, and production team for their guidance and his parents and girlfriend, Nikki, for their never ending support. Next, he will be playing JD in Heathers with Wildwood Theatre Company. So kick back, relax, and enjoy the show!

Jason Hentrich (EKO) makes his debut appearance with Cohesion. He performs in plays, musicals, opera, radio plays, choral works, and recitals throughout the Baltimore/DC area. Past credits include Assassins, Alice In Wonderland, The Secret Garden, Sweeney Todd, Becoming George, The Tempest, The Fall of the House of Usher, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He has taught at Washington College and Imagination Stage, and currently teaches Acting for Singers at the Peabody Preparatory and music for Prince George’s County Public Schools. Jason is an alumnus of the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University and the Studio Theatre Acting Conservatory. For more information, please visit www.jasonhentrich.com.

Fred Fletcher-Jackson (Bad Guy/Billy Heartland/Old Glory) is delighted and humbled to be returning to the Cohesion stage...or should he say, the ring. Favorite acting credits include George Boleyn at the Maryland Rennaissance Festival, Marc Antony in Julius Caesar (Baltimore Shakespeare Factory), Adam in The Complete History of America (Abridged) (Vagabond Players), and Supraman in A Little Bit Not Normal (Cohesion). Fred is a teaching artist with BSF, Compass Rose Theater, and Drama Learning Center. This fall, Fred will be moving to Philadelphia to pursue his MFA in Devised Performance at University of the Arts/Pig Iron School. If we’re being honest, he’ll probably then immediately enroll in wrestling school. Thanks to the Chad Deity cast and crew, Joe and Mike, and Cohesion for letting this big mark work on a show where wrestling totally consumes him- the life he always wanted to live. WOOOO!

Matthew Casella (Referee) is stern, but fair. A heel striving for a face turn, he returns to Cohesion's stage after Mr. Burns: A Post Electric Play and Henry V. He hopes the matches in this show go off without a hitch and without any foreign objects. 

Daniel Douek (Director) is thrilled to direct this show! He directed Picasso at the Lapin Agile and Man of La Mancha among others and has appeared in numerous shows and musicals. Favorite acting past credits are Vittorio in Sweet Charity, Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, Warwick in Edward II, Gary in I Hate Hamlet, Vasques in Tis Pity She’s a Whore, Aldolpho in The Drowsy Chaperone, Tito Merelli in Lend me a Tenor, and Franz in The Producers. Thanks to Cohesion and particularly Brad for this great opportunity to work with the acting and wrestling community. Loving this cast full of energy and talent. Thanks to mi amor Shealyn for supporting me!

Jeff Miller (Assistant Director) is a member of Cohesion Theatre’s Advisory Board. Previously, with Cohesion, Jeff stage managed Henry V, assistant directed A Little Bit Not Normal and the Political Cabaret; and performed in Hamlet. Jeff is a director, actor, and teaching artist with a variety of Maryland-area theatres including Drama Learning Center and Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Baltimore Shakespeare Factory, Green Globe Theatre, and Children’s Theatre of Annapolis. He holds a B.F.A. in Acting from
University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Alliyah Corley (Stage Manager) is excited to be a part of her first Cohesion production and her first Baltimore show. A recent grad of the theatre arts program at Rollins College in Winter Park, FL and a new mom to a beautiful little girl, Alliyah is so grateful for the opportunity to work on one of her favorite scripts. She would like to thank Cohesion for giving her this opportunity, as well as her fiancé Brandon and her parents for always supporting her dreams. 

Serafina Donahue (Lighting/Projections Design) is excited to be making her Cohesion debut with the Elaborate Entrance of Chad Diety. She is a director and lighting designer from Wyoming, and a graduate of the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Recent credits include Alice and the Book of Wonderland (Annapolis Shakespeare) and Kermoor (Baltimore/New York Fringe).

Michael Rasinski (Scenic Desinger) is happy to be designing his first show at Cohesion. He is an alumnus of Towson University and has a BS in Scenic Design and Production. Michael also works as a carpenter for the Everyman Theatre Company and the Community College of Baltimore County.

Jess Rassp (Technical Director) is a Theatre Artist whose background in painting and sculpture fuels her work in puppetry, props, and scenic design.  Other credits include: Cohesion Theatre Company (Mr. Burns, Sally McCoy, Men on Boats, Schoolgirl Figure), Chesapeake Shakespeare Company (The Winter’s Tale, Othello), Submersive Productions (BATSH.T. Darling's Incredible Musaeum), Iron Crow Theatre (The Goodies), and Single Carrot Theatre (Savage/Love, Midlife, Year of the Rooster). Jess received her B.A. in English Literature and minor in Theatre Arts from Brandeis University in Boston.  jessrasspdesign.com

Jonathan Ezra Rubin (Fight Director) is thrilled to be back at Cohesion Theatre Company! He last worked with Cohesion, choreographing the multitude of fights in Neverwhere. Jonathan has enjoyed seeing the company's growth since Brad first mentioned his plan to start a theatre company, and is excited to bring his love of both professional wrestling and fight choreography together. A Two-Time Helen Hayes Award Nominee for Outstanding Choreography, Jonathan has choreographed fights for The Studio Theatre, Flying V, GALA Hispanic Theatre, Maryland Shakespeare Company, Single Carrot Theatre, Georgetown Gilbert & Sullivan Society, Lumina Studio Theatre, & Goucher College, among others. You can see more of Jonathan's choreography on stage in September at Vagabond Players' production of Shakespeare's R&J and GALA Hispanic Theatre's production of Como agua para chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate). Jonathan is recognized as an Advanced Actor/Combatant with the Society of American Fight Directors, and freelances as a fight director throughout the DMV. When not fighting, he is the Managing Director for Flying V and the Theatre Manager for the Silver Spring Black Box. Thanks to Brad for bringing him back, Joe for the wrestling training and keen eye, Renaissance Rumble, and the whole Chad Deity team.

Joe Grasso (Pro-Wrestling Trainer) is a certified and licensed professional wrestler, a former advanced actor combatant with the society of American fight directors, and forms one half of the wrestling tag team, The Grimy Scots. Joe has been wrestling, performing, and choreographing in Maryland, DC, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania for the past 12 years. He is the co-founder of the pro wrestling inspired, Shakespeare-themed stunt show, Renaissance Rumble which you can catch at the Maryland Renaissance Festival this 2018 season.