Tag Archives: Kristoffer Diaz

At the theater: Kristoffer Diaz’s “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity”

“At the Theater” is a feature in which I check out plays by Latino writers. The article is intended to be a look at the author’s work and not a review of the theatrical production – so no comments about acting, lighting or staging. I caught the Dallas Theater Center production of “Chad Deity.”

Kristoffer Diaz’s The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity explores the issue of race through an offbeat forum – the wrestling ring.

Macedonia “Mace” Guerra is a Puerto Rican who grew up in the Bronx and now works as a wrestler – but he’s always there to lose. The star is Chad Deity, an Apollo Creed-type character, but without the talent.

Vigneshwar Padura, a young, enthusiastic Indian-American, aspires to get into the ring. So the wrestling association’s chief, Everett K. Olson, agrees to let him participate – albeit as a Muslim fundamentalist, complete with a long bushy beard and ammunition on his chest. His opponent is Mace – now billed as Che Chávez Castro.

Deity deals with serious issues in a humorous format. Mace speaks of the frustrations of stereotypes, but he’s more weary than preachy. The show – much of it Mace’s monologue – flows smoothly with good audience interaction.

The play was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 2010. It was first produced in Chicago and has been presented in Berkeley, Calif., Boston, New York City, Washington, D.C., and is currently playing in Dallas and Colorado Springs until Nov. 11. This is a play that draws as much reflection as it does laughs. If you get the chance, go see it.

More about Kristoffer Diaz:

Kristoffer Diaz also has written the plays Welcome to Arroyo’s, Guernica, and #therevolution. He won the 2011 New York Times Outstanding Playwright Award.

 

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Latinos and the Pulitzer Prize

Update: Quiara Alegría Hudes won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Drama for her play, Water by the Spoonful. I also included information on Sonia Nazario, which I forgot about when I first wrote this post until I saw her book in my co-worker’s office and thought, “I can’t believe I forgot Enrique’s Journey!”

The Pulitzer Prizes, which award the best in journalism and literary arts, will be announced on Monday. While the Nobel Prize in Literature is an international award that honors a lifetime achievement of work, the Pulitzers are an American award that recognizes the previous year’s work in a variety of categories. Here’s a look at some of the past Latino winners:

Fiction:

• Only two Hispanics have won this prize: Oscar Hijuelos for 1990’s The Mambo Kings Sing Songs of Love and Junot Díaz, right, for 2008’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Hopefully, the committee will consider Francisco Goldman’s Say Her Name, Justin Torres’s We the Animals and Hector Tobar’s The Barbarian Nurseries this year.

Drama:

• Nilo Cruz, left, is the lone Latino playwright to win this honor, for 2003’s Anna in the Tropics. Some writers have come close in recent years – Quiara Alegría Hudes was a finalist for 2007’s Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue in 2007 and, with Lin-Manuel Miranda, 2009’s In the Heights, as was Kristoffer Diaz for 2010’s The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity.

Poetry:

• William Carlos Williams, right, whose mother was Puerto Rican, appears to be the lone poet with Latino roots to win in the category.

Sadly, no Latinos appear to have won in the autobiography, general non-fiction or history categories. Luis Alberto Urrea came close in 2005, when he was a finalist for general non-fiction category for The Devil’s Highway.

Journalism:

Latinos have won in various categories throughout the years – as part of teams covering the Los Angeles riots for The Los Angeles Times in 1992 and the Elian Gonzalez case for The Miami Herald in 2001. Here’s a look at some interesting winners of the past:

Ruben Vives, left, who came to the United States from Guatemala as an undocumented immigrant and worked his way to become a reporter for The Los Angeles Times, won the award last year for Public Service at age 32.

Liz Balmaseda of The Miami Herald was the first (and still only) Latino to win in the Commentary category in 1993.

SoniaNazarioSonia Nazario, who was raised in the United States and Argentina, wrote a series of articles for The Los Angeles Times about one boy’s travels from Honduras to the United States that won the 2003 Feature Writing prize and became the book Enrique’s Journey.

• Photographer José Galvez, right, was part of the first team of Latinos to win a Pulitzer when  The Los Angeles Times took the 1984 Public Service Prize for its series on Latino life in Southern California. His work can also be seen in Urrea’s book of poems Vatos and other books.

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