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Playwright/Director Luis Valdez Leads Theatre Workshop at Pomona College

Luis Valdez, called the father of Chicano theatre, will lead a student workshop and give a talk at Pomona College on Thursday, February 8, at 7 p.m. The playwright and director is known for his various plays, such as Zoot Suit; movies, including La Bamba; and for founding El Teatro Campesino, a farm workers’ theatre that evolved into a national Chicano theatre movement.

Valdez has given the Chicano theatre movement a voice since 1963, when the San Jose State College drama department staged his first play, The Shrunken Head of Pancho Villa. In 1965, he founded El Teatro Campesino, which produced one-act plays—often without stage, script or props—dramatizing the circumstances of migrant workers. The year 1987 marked his greatest success when he directed the hit film La Bamba. Valdez employs a technique called “theatre of the sphere,” a sacred philosophy based on indigenous Aztec and Mayan spiritual thought.

His work has been honored with numerous awards. These include an Obie (Off-Broadway Theater Award) in 1968, as well as Los Angeles Drama Critics awards in 1969, 1972 and 1978. Valdez also received an Emmy in 1973. In 1983, the San Francisco Bay Critics Circle awarded him “Best Musical.”

The workshop will be held in the Allen Studio Theatre (Seaver Theatre, 300 E. Bonita Ave., Claremont) at Pomona College and is sponsored by the Department of Theatre & Dance. For further information, contact: (909) 621-8186.

The Pomona College Department of Theatre & Dance is the only five-college theatre department in the world. Serving Pomona College, Pitzer College, Scripps College, Harvey Mudd College, and Claremont McKenna College, it offers theoretical and practical work in all phases of theatre and dance, within the context of a rigorous liberal arts education. In addition to its academic offerings, it produces a variety of plays and an annual dance concert. The plays selected include classics old and new, contemporary plays and experimental pieces. The productions offer opportunities in performance, design and technical work to all interested students of The Claremont Colleges.