Skip to main content

Theatre and Film students bring Phoenix Olympian's story to stage

February 10, 2012

World wrestling champion Henry Cejudo recently joined ASU School of Theatre and Film professor Guillermo Reyes and student actors in rehearsals for the new play, "American Victory," an ASU MainStage Centennial Season production, that depicts Cejodo's heroic journey from Phoenix to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

"This is a true story about a local man’s struggle for American identity," says Reyes, who is directing the play. "His story is very much part of the immigrant story of Phoenix, and we wanted to include modern portraits as well as historic works in our celebration of Arizona's birthday."

Reyes, director of the new writers graduate program at the ASU School of Theatre and Film in the Herberger Institute, commissioned the play last year in his search for meaningful works to commemorate the Arizona centennial.

Jose Zarate, an MFA candidate in the dramatic writing program, adapted the play from the book, "American Victory," written by Cejudo with Bill Plaschke. The American born son of illegal immigrant parents, Cejudo attended Maryvale High School in Phoenix and gained national attention with his prowess on the wrestling mat. At 21, he is the youngest American wrestler to win an Olympic gold medal. He is training for the 2012 Olympics in London this summer.

Alberto Ley, a student in the School of Theatre and Film, stars as Cejudo.

"American Victory" is part of the Arizona Centennial Project New Works Series. The play runs from March 2-16. Visit for tickets.