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Cesar Chavez, Luis Valdez, and “Zoot Suit”

Cesar Chavez and Luis Valdez on Broadway photo courtesy Kinan Valdez)

Cesar Chavez and Luis Valdez with ZOOT SUIT at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway (1979)
(photo courtesy Kinan Valdez)

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Luis Valdez founded the internationally renowned and Obie-awarding El Teatro Campesino (The Farm Workers’ Theatre) in 1965 during the United Farm Workers (UFW) struggle and the Great Delano Grape Strike in California’s Central Valley. His involvement with Cesar Chavez, the UFW and the early Chicano Movement left an indelible mark that remains embodied in all his work. Valdez’s screen credits include Zoot Suit, La Bamba, The Cisco Kid, and Corridos: Tales of Passion and Revolution. Awards include LA Drama Critic Circle awards, Bay Area Critics awards, the George Peabody Award for excellence in television, the National Medal of Arts, the Governor’s Award from the California Arts Council, and Mexico’s prestigious Aguila Azteca Award. He was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. In 2007, he was awarded a Rockefeller fellowship as one of 50 artists so honored across the United States. Valdez was recently inducted into the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences as a director. In September 2016, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Obama in a ceremony at the White House (see related story).

In 1978 "Zoot Suit" premiered at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles to standing-room-only crowds for a year before becoming the first play on Broadway written by a Chicano author.

UCSC's production of Zoot Suit is produced by special arrangement with El Teatro Campesino, San Juan Bautista, California, and directed by Kinan Valdez.

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