Zoot Suit and Other Plays
First play written and produced by a Mexican-American to open on Broadway.
by Luis Valdez
Publication Date: April 30, 1992
Format: Trade Paperback
Imprint: Piñata Books
This critically acclaimed play by Luis Valdez cracks open the depiction of Chicanos on stage, challenging viewers to revisit a troubled moment in our nation’s history. From the moment the myth-infused character El Pachuco burst onto the stage, cutting his way through the drop curtain with a switchblade, Luis Valdez spurred a revolution in Chicano theater.
Focusing on the events surrounding the Sleepy Lagoon Murder Trial of 1942 and the ensuing Zoot Suit Riots that turned Los Angeles into a bloody war zone, this is a gritty and vivid depiction of the horrifying violence and racism suffered by young Mexican Americans on the home front during World War II. Valdez’s cadre of young urban characters struggle with the stereotypes and generalizations of America’s dominant culture, the questions of assimilation and patriotism, and a desire to rebel against the mainstream pressures that threaten to wipe them out.
Experimenting with brash forms of narration, pop culture of the war era, and complex characterizations, this quintessential exploration of the Mexican-American experience in the United States during the 1940’s was the first, and only, Chicano play to open on Broadway.
This collection contains three of playwright and screenwriter Luis Valdez’s most important and recognized plays: Zoot Suit, Bandido! and I Don’t Have to Show You No Stinking Badges. The anthology also includes an introduction by noted theater critic Dr. Jorge Huerta of the University of California-San Diego. Luis Valdez, the most recognized and celebrated Hispanic playwright of our times, is the director of the famous farm-worker theater, El Teatro Campesino.
Zoot Suit was named to Críticas Magazine’s “The Basics: 100 Fiction Titles You Should Stock” List
“Valdez is the Pachuco of Broadway, the social bandit of the media and the brilliant student who will change the face of Hollywood portrayals of his people.” —Jorge Huerta
LUIS VALDEZ is acknowledged as the founder of modern Chicano theatre and film of the United States. Born to migrant farm workers, Valdez spent his early life working in the fields with his family. Valdez joined the United Farm Workers and staged improvisational theatre to further the causes of the UFW, which led to the formation of his theatre group, El Teatro Campesino. Among his theatrical productions are The Shrunken Head of Pancho Villa, Bandido, and I Don’t Have to Show You No Stinking Badges. Valdez is a faculty member and the founding director of the Teledramatic Arts and Technology Department at California State University, Monterey Bay.
ATOS Interest Level: Upper Grades