Zoot Suit

Zoot Suit El Teatro Campesino

In addition to his work as a playwright and director, Luis Valdez is credited with forming El Teatro Campesino, a Chicano theater company in Southern California that exists to this day. The group's name translates to "The Farmworker's Theater" and was founded as a branch of the United Farm Workers and the Chicano Movement.

Inspired by the work of labor leader and community organizer Cesar Chavez, Valdez, along with Agustin Lira who was also interested in organizing through theater, founded the theater in 1965. Many of the early plays produced by the company were intended to raise awareness about political issues, and the style of performance was inspired by commedia dell'arte, Mexican folk humor, and sacred ritual dramas from Aztec and Maya culture.

The theater is still in existence today, having been relocated to San Juan Bautista. Their current mission is "to create a popular art with [...] 21st century tools that presents a more just and accurate account of human history, while encouraging the young women and men of a new generation to take control of their own destiny through creative discipline, vibrant education, economic independence, and artistic excellence."