Modesto Junior College’s Visiting Authors Series will next feature an evening with Luis Valdez. “Zoot Suit – Then and Now: The Impact of the Arts to Influence Civic Engagement” will live stream on YouTube at 7 p.m. March 31.
Valdez is regarded as one of the most important and influential American playwrights living today. His internationally renowned and Obie award winning theater company, El Teatro Campesino (The Farm Workers’ Theater) was founded in 1965 – in the heat of the United Farm Workers (UFW) struggle and the Great Delano Grape Strike in California’s Central Valley. His involvement with Cesar Chavez, the UFW and the early Chicano Movement left an indelible mark that remained embodied in all his work. Valdez has never strayed far from his own farm worker roots. His company, El Teatro Campesino, is located 60 miles south of San Jose in the rural community of San Juan Bautista, CA. This theater, tucked away in San Benito County, is the most important and longest running Chicano Theater in the United States.
As an educator, Valdez has taught at the University of California, Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, Fresno State University and was one of the founding professors of CSU Monterey Bay. Valdez’s hard work and long creative career have won him countless awards including the prestigious George Peabody Award for excellence in television, the Presidential Medal of the Arts, the Governor’s Award for the California Arts Council, and Mexico’s prestigious Aguila Azteca Award given to individuals whose work promotes cultural excellence and exchange between US and Mexico. In September, 2016, he was awarded the National Medal of the Arts by President Obama at the White House. Valdez was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C.
Valdez’s numerous feature films and television credits include the box office hit film “La Bamba” starring Lou Diamonds Phillips, “Cisco Kid” starring Jimmy Smits and Cheech Marin, and “Corridos: Tales of Passion and Revolution” starring Linda Ronstadt.
This is a free event, open to the public, and can be watched at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCg3hfrHdmFQ_ChsJqErK1OQ