El Teatro Campesino


EL TEATRO CAMPESINO

Actos On The Picket Line

The Teatro Campesino was born on the picket lines of the grape strike in Delano in 1965, when Luis Valdez returned to his hometown and began teaching farmworkers to improvise skits that educated and entertained.

A decade later, the theater troupe had achieved international acclaim and settled in what would become its long-term home, San Juan Bautista, just north of the Salinas Valley. Though independent of the UFW, the Teatro continued to supported la causa and performed frequently at union rallies.

And one thing had not changed: The Teatro’s blend of pointed humor in improvised skits that lampooned growers and authority figures. They used humor to reduce the powerful to the very human, to help overcome fears and instill in farmworkers a sense of their own power.

On Aug 3, 1975 when the march ended in Salinas, El Teatro Campesino was on the stage.

When Cesar Chavez led marchers on the caminata through the Salinas Valley at the end of July, 1975, the Teatro performed at rallies in King City, Greenfield, and Soledad – captivating crowds every night.

When Chavez visited a labor camp outside Salinas, the Teatro peformed in the courtyard. Luis Valdez made fun of Jose Charles, a leader of the rival Teamsters union, which had a contract at the large lettuce grower Bud Antle, where the UFW hoped to win an election in the coming weeks.

 

Part of the performance was more athletic than theatrical:

And the Teatro was on stage for the final massive rally when the marchers reached Salinas on Aug. 3, 1975.


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