With five weeks to go and a team of professional wrestlers on his tail, things are heating up for Coming Up director Jamie Hadley. We caught up with him to talk blood, sweat and promotion…
Wrestling, for me, is a dance, a sport and an art.
My live art practice interrogates pain, blood, the politics of violence – and that’s what wrestling is. It’s intrinsically political. I’m interested in the deterioration of the male body. I want to remind people that the body is material; we’re more than just emails and text messages. We are functioning bodies.
I also want to test people’s complicity; to see what they will watch.
In British professional wrestling, we have some of the greatest talent in the world. My Coming Up night will have pyrotechnics, film projections, great costumes, amazing soundtracks, great entrances, professional dancers and rappers.
It’s five weeks today until my project opens. I went to see the space today with my good friend Alex “the ascension” Shane, who is one of the top wrestling promoters in the country. He’s sort of my consultant and the two of us had a meeting about how we want to use the space, perhaps on a monthly basis, for wrestling events.
I came out at 14 and first started to train as a wrestler when I was 15. I wrote to Alex Shane telling him my anxieties about being a queer wrestler in an almost exclusively straight community and he got back to me with some really helpful advice. Then, just the other day, he remembered and recognised me. It was a really cool moment.
Day to day, I go between meeting sponsorship people, working on the promotion and talking to the wrestlers involved. Everything that you have to put into theatre production, you have to double it for wrestling; you’ve got artists to book, venues to deal with, music, videos, lighting design. Also, bear in mind that you don’t have a rehearsal. Wrestlers just turn up and the match is created in that moment.
I’ve just got Pineapple Dance Studios on board today. One of the wrestlers has got a kind of rap gimmick, so they’re going to dance with him at the end. Another wrestler is going to be dressed as the Antichrist and will walk out to this crazy electro music.
When you’re in a venue like Debut, you’ve got to be a bit edgy and underground. The potential for pyrotechnics is spectacular; all we really need to do is put a ring in it. We want to project the show live into the other tunnels so everyone can see it. We also want an after-party where we screen a new wrestling documentary, you can meet the wrestlers and buy merchandise from all over the world.
People think of wrestling as this antiquated thing that had its heyday in the ‘70s and ‘80s, but this is going to be really contemporary. We’re even having it filmed in 3D.
I used to work at Shunt and wanted to do a wrestling show down there. I already had a proposal with all these ideas, so when this came up, it just seemed perfect.
Jamie was talking to Nell Frizzell.
Go to the Coming Up Homepage for more interviews and information. BritWres-Fest will be on 21 and 22 February at 7pm. Tickets are FREE. Click here to book.