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Soyica Colbert

Georgetown University
Mysterious Mixings: Passing in Lynn Nottage’s By the Way, Meet Vera Stark
Professional wrestling is a popular spectacle in which muscular men and women throw, body slam, and attempt to pin each other in stadiums full of screaming fans. Professional wrestling thus has many of the trappings of contemporary sports; however, it also fulfills many of the established formal definitions of theatre in that it is scripted, live entertainment performed before an audience by individuals playing characters. Indeed, the serial nature of professional wrestling with ongoing story arcs, places professional wrestling within a long tradition of popular, theatrical entertainment. This paper takes up professional wrestling in the context of other globalizing theatres and forms such as touring Broadway musicals, Cirque du Soleil, and the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD series to distinguish relations among production, circulation, and spectatorship. These relations are brought into sharp relief through the so-called “lowbrow” performance of professional wrestling and its association with high finance through the largest wrestling company in the world, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), which is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Examining professional wrestling thus reveals formal and financial distinctions that trace the contours of the stratified field of globalizing live entertainment.