San Juan Bautista, CA
Luis Valdez is a playwright, writer, and film director who founded El Teatro Campesino and launched the Chicano theater movement. A son of migrant workers, Valdez left the San Francisco Mime Troupe in 1965 to join Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers in seeking better working conditions for migrants. By staging short plays in the back of a truck, El Teatro Campesino brought a message of protest to farmworkers in their own language. El Teatro Campesino settled into its own theater in 1971, and Valdez went on to direct more mainstream productions. His play Zoot Suit (1978) was the first Chicano production on Broadway, and he wrote and directed the popular film La Bamba (1987).