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Remembering the Pioneering Teatros

June 24, 2002|Times staff writers

El Teatro Campesino, a grass-roots Chicano theater that emerged as an arm of the farm workers' struggle of 1965, inspired numerous other Chicano and Chicana theater troupes to blossom in the western United States, particularly in the Southwest. By the early 1970s, the individual teatros began to band together to plan major festivals in the United States and Mexico.

UCLA theater professor Jose Luis was part of that movement--and wants a new generation of students to experience the same sense of urgency he felt as a young member of a burgeoning political art form.

"I felt like my theater was always so relevant to the times, to society; we were trying to find a new form and style to speak to the people," Luis says. "I felt that young people were not in that frame of mind now. I wanted them to do the plays that we did, bring them together with the writers who wrote those plays when they were in their 20s, to see what role the theater played for us."

Along with UC San Diego professor Jorge Huerta, Luis gathered a consortium of college and university theater groups to participate in the five-day Festival of Chicano Theater Classics, beginning Tuesday at UCLA.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday June 25, 2002 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 15 inches; 564 words Type of Material: Correction
Chicano theater festival--A story in Monday's Calendar about a Chicano theater festival at UCLA misidentified UCLA theater professor Jose Luis Valenzuela, referring to him as Jose Luis without his last name.

Events include theater workshops such as "Street Theater" and "Theater of the Oppressed," panel discussions with scholars and critics, and performances of theater pieces from the era by the 250 student participants. The festival also features a closing-night performance by a new incarnation of El Teatro Campesino, directed by Kinan Valdez, son of Luis Valdez, founder of the original troupe.

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