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  •    The Arts and the Farm Workers' Movement During the 1960s and '70s

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    photo of Teatro Campesino performance

    In 1965 Luis Valdez, a young playwright and former San Francisco Mime Troupe member, approached Cesar Chavez about putting together a theater group for the benefit of the farm workers. Chavez told him there was no money but gave him the go ahead and Teatro Campesino (The Farmworkers Theater) was born. Using the back of a flatbed truck as a stage and the lights of parked cars as spotlights, the fledgling theater company, headed by Valdez, accompanied the farm workers on their march from Delano to Sacramento. Teatro Campesino created bilingual comedy heavy with Mexican folklore and well-recognized stereotypes in an agitprop style of theater. Many reluctant strikers and followers of the movement were won over by the serious messages within the comedy of Teatro Campesino. The theater group won numerous awards and toured all over the world. Luis Valdez credits Chavez with starting it all: "We didn’t know it until we met him, but he was the leader we had been waiting for."

    Art and Artifacts from the Collections of the Labor Archives and Research Center

    Copyright © 2007 Labor Archives and Research Center | J. Paul Leonard Library | San Francisco State University
    Credits and Contacts | Last Updated January 17, 2006