Theater etiquette will be a little different at the Wyly in Dallas tonight.
It’s the premiere of “Lucha Teotl,” a new show from Prism Movement Theater that fuses lucha libre with Aztec mythology.
For the past two months, the cast has been training inside the boxing ring at Casa Guanajuato, a community center in Oak Cliff.
Prism’s artistic director Jeff Colangelo says “Lucha Teotl” is not your typical theater production.
“It uses the format of wrestling, of lucha libre, to weave it’s own kind of amazing, intricate tale about these two rival wrestlers: Huītzilōpōchtli of the Sun family and Coyolxauhqui of the Moon family,” Colangelo said.
The bilingual show borrows from Aztec mythology. Luchadores donning colorful masks call on different gods to give them strength during their fights.
Chris Ramirez co-wrote and directed the production with Colangelo.
“Throughout the show, you’re going to see different characters show up and they’ll even say themselves, ‘ I invoke Tezcatlipoca. I represent Itztlacoliuhqui’,” Ramirez said.
Ramirez drew on his own expertise to write “Lucha Teotl.” He’s been a diehard wrestling fan since he was nine years old.
“Wrestling was so popular in the late ’90s. It’s what all the kids were watching. In order to fit in, I turned on the TV, and I turned on WWF,” Ramirez said. “I was glued to the screen. I was hooked.”
He’s not the only one. Tiffany Lang plays Coyol, the more experienced luchador who represents the Moon god family. She’s also a longtime wrestler herself.
“I was introduced to wrestling by my grandfather,” Lang said. “My maternal grandfather was a huge wrestling fan. He used to yell at the television so loud, I didn’t know what was happening or going on.”
For the actors without a wrestling background, the directors brought on a professional luchador named Aski the Mayan Warrior to choreograph the show.
“He has taught everybody how to do this art,” Colangelo said. “He coordinated all of the fighting instances, which is a lot of the play. It would be impossible to do this show without him.”
Ramirez likens the show to ancient Greek theater or a play at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. But, he says it draws most of all from the inherent theatricality of lucha libre itself.
“[The audience] will be ringside, four feet, five feet, six feet from the action. Up in the balcony,” he said. “There will be a giant, Aztec temple that the wrestlers themselves will come out of. There will be a ring in the middle of Wyly Theater. I’m looking at it right now.”
Ramirez encourages the crowd to treat it like a real match. Get rowdy, cheer and boo. Bring signs too because there will be a contest at every show.