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Luis Valdez

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Devin Mott

on 7 December 2015

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Transcript of Luis Valdez

Early Years
Luis Valdez was born on June 26, 1940, in Delano, California, the second of ten brothers and sisters. Valdez’s parents were migrant farm workers who made a living picking whatever crop was in season. He was raised in worker camps across California. Valdez began working in the fields at age six, and his entire childhood would color his later creative and activist career dramatically.

Although his early schooling was interrupted continually, Valdez was awarded a scholarship to San Jose State College in 1960. Early on in his college career, Valdez won a playwriting contest for his one-act play, The Theft. At the end of his four years at San Jose, he produced his first full-length play, The Shrunken Head of Pancho Villa, and the next year he joined activist Cesar Chavez to bring attention to the plight of migrant farmworkers.
El Teatro Campesino
Valdez combined his love of the theater and his activism to form El Teatro Campesino (Farmworkers Theater), a drama group that represented the struggles of farmworkers and the Chicano movement on a live stage. The group traveled via flatbed truck and performed at churches, town squares and near the fields where Valdez grew up. To stregthen the vital tone of his work, Valdez coined the term “acto”—a short play in which its performers are “in the act,” the line between performance and reality blurring. Two notable examples of actos produced during this period are Los vendidos, which tackled issues intertwined with racial stereotyping, and Bernabe, an early dramatic look at the natural world and man’s place in it.
Centro Campesino Cultural
Leaving the flatbed truck behind and planting some roots, Valdez founded the Centro Campesino Cultural in Del Rey, California, in 1967 (it moved to Fresno a couple of years later). Through his work there, Valdez became known as the “godfather of Chicano theater," and accolades followed him and his work. He won an honorary Obie Award in 1968 for his “workers’ theater” and continued to write and produce plays.
Valdez is one of the original organizers for the United Farm Workers Union and a founding member of the California Arts Council. He has been awarded the Presidential Medal of the Arts and was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Theater at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He has also won three Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards, and an Emmy Award.
Corridos!, Tales of Passion and Revolution
”Corridos!” delves into a colorful history. This musical play by Valdez weaves together corridos, which are both ballads and storytelling sketches that explore Mexican folk traditions. Songs in Spanish and narrative in English tell tales about the heroes and stories of the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1920. Story's from lost love to thief's stealing from the poor. It shows the hardships and the battles of people going through the Mexican revolution.
I Don't Have to Show You No Stinking Badges
The play is set in Los Angeles in the home of Connie and Buddy Villa, middle-aged Chicano bit-part actors. The conflict is sparked by the unexpected return of Sonny, their son. Defying his parents’ dreams for him, Sonny quits Harvard University Law School and thus forfeits his chance at the kind of success his parents have not been able to achieve. His return home, with his Chinese American girlfriend, and his announced intention to become an actor, writer, producer, and director creates a crisis in the family that the rest of the play tries to resolve. In a tempestuous family quarrel, Sonny rails his parents’ acting; they have made careers playing stereotyped nonspeaking parts as maids, gardeners, bandits, and prostitutes.
He proclaims his desire to surpass them. It then moves to a play within a play. Sonny films his parents and his girlfriend, Anita, but when his parents are called off to a Latino Actors Guild meeting, he decides to act in another way. He takes his father’s gun and holds up several fast-food restaurants. The climax of the play occurs when police and news crews arrive at the Villa home; a standoff ensues, filled with gunfire, bullhorns, and live coverage. The play then offers three completely different endings.
Luis Valdez
Devin Mott
Born, June 26 1940
Zoot Suit
In Zoot Suit, Henry Reyna and his fellow 38th Street Gang members are going to a dance. At the dance, they encounter their rival gang, the Downey gang. A fight breaks out between the two gangs after Henry’s brother, Rudy, causes a commotion. After the fight, Henry and his gang leave the dance.
Henry and his girlfriend, Della, drive to Sleepy Lagoon, Henry notices a commotion in the Williams’ Ranch. Mistaking the noise as a party, Henry and Della go to the house. Little do they know that the Downey gang came to the house earlier and harassed the Williams’. Mistaking Henry and his friends as the Downey gang, the Williams’ attack the group. Fleeing from the scene, Henry and his friends did not realize that Jose Williams, of the Williams’ Ranch, passed away that night.
A few days later, Henry and his fellow gang members are arrested and charged for the murder of Jose Williams. Their lawyer, George Shearer, and editor, Alice, are fighting for the rights of the alleged murderers. Even though evidence states that it was the Downey gang who killed Jose Williams, the Jury was not in favor of the 38th Street Gang Members. After receiving unequal and unfair treatment from the court system, Henry and his friends are unjustly sentenced to prison.
Henry and his friends are sent to San Quentin Jail where they await for their case to be appealed. During his stay in jail, Henry forms a love interest with his editor, Alice. Henry is romantically involved with Della; and Alice does not want to exploit any indiscretions. Meanwhile, George, their Lawyer, is drafted to serve in the war. With the stresses of being arrested, falsely accused, in a confused love affair, and with the loss of interest with the case, decides to withdraw himself from the situation. Henry spent the remainder of his sentence in solitary confinement.
During this event, the Zoot Suit Riots of Los Angeles and other cities occur. Finally being released from jail, Henry and his friends return to their families. In the play, Henry’s fate has multiple alternative paths.
Works Cited
"Luis Valdez Tribute Video." El Teatro Campesino. Web. 4 Dec. 2015.
"Luis Valdez Biography." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television. Web. 5 Dec. 2015.
Escamilla, Brian. "Valdez, Luis: 1940—: Playwright, Director, Writer, Actor, Teacher." Contemporary Hispanic Biography. 2002. Encyclopedia.com. 7 Dec. 2015 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.
"Summary." Luis Valdezs Zoot Suit. 5 Jan. 2012. Web. 7 Dec. 2015.
"Corridos! Tales of Passion and Revolution." Corridos! Tales of Passion and Revolution. Web. 7 Dec. 2015.
"Summary" Masterpieces of American Literature Ed. Steven G. Kellman. eNotes.com, Inc. 2006eNotes.com7 Dec, 2015 <http://www.enotes.com/topics/dont-have-show-you-no-stinking-badges#summary-the-work>
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