Luis Valdez, the Playwright

Luis Valdez

Did you know?

  • He is acknowledged as the founder of Chicano theatre and film.

  • Delano, California is his place of birth.

  • His parents and family worked as migrant farm workers.

  • He switched from a major in math and physics to English after acting, directing and writing his first play at San Jose State University.

  • His first full-length play, The Shrunken Head of Pancho Villa, is recognized as the first Chicano play ever written.

  • In 1965 the Great Delano Grape Strike inspired him to found El Teatro Campesino to support the United Farm Workers Union led by César Chávez and Dolores Huerta.

  • In 1987, he directed the critically acclaimed film, La Bamba.

  • President Clinton appointed him as member of the National Endowment of the Arts.

  • He was one of the first recipients of President Ronald Reagan’s Medal of the Arts in 1983.

  • To this day, he continues to write and direct plays while serving as artistic director of El Teatro Campesino.

El Teatro Campesino was one of the most important political theatre companies of its generation. (Courtesy El Teatro Campesino Archives)

El Teatro Campesino was one of the most important political theatre companies of its generation. (Courtesy El Teatro Campesino Archives)