According to Valdez when he was six years old, he watched a teacher use part of a paper bag to make paper-mâché masks for a theater production. This experience transformed him and would have a lasting effect. In college it helped lead him to the theater. Valdez's first full-length play, The Shrunken Head of Pancho Villa. debuted at SJSU in 1963.
In 1965, Valdez returned to Delano, where he formed El Teatro Campesino, a farm workers' theater troupe. Valdez's teatro was influential, according to Gale Resources, "Thanks to Valdez and El Teatro Campesino. What began as a farm workers' theater in the migrant camps of Delano now exploded into a national Chicano theater movement. Theater groups sprang up with surprising speed on college campuses and in communities throughout the United States.
As a media figure of the Chicano Movement, Valdez often lectures about El Teatro Campesino, media representations of Mexicans and Mexican Americans, and the importance of Chicano-produced media in order to help countering negative ethnic stereotypes.
Mr. Valdez is a founding faculty member and director (c. 1994) of the California State University, Monterey Bay, Teledramatic Arts and Technology Department. He is helping develop a university program that prepares students in the entertainment industry: filmmaking, writing, sound, cinematography, and the like.
In Zoot Suit, Luis Valdez weaves a story involving the real-life events of the Sleepy Lagoon murder trial--when a group of young Mexican-Americans were wrongfully charged with murder--and the Zoot Suit Riots.
LUIS VALDEZ TO SPEAK AT ADAMS STATE; 'ZOOT SUIT' PLAYWRIGHT TO APPEAR AS PART OF 'FAHRENHEIT 451 PROJECT'.(Valle Vista/ Regional)
Oct 11, 2007; Staff report ALAMOSA, COLO. -- The Adams State College Theatre Department in nearby Alamosa, Colo. ignites its Fahrenheit 451...