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Luis Valdez: 1940—: Playwright, Director, Writer, Actor, Teacher

Back To "the Farmworker Question"

In 2001 Valdez returned to a play he began writing in 1976, and to a subject matter that's never left him: farmworkers. "It's been 25 years," Valdez confessed to the San Jose Mercury News. "It's time to come full circle, to come back to the farmworker question." Mundo Mata tells the story of two migrant worker brothers divided by their beliefs. One brother is idealistic and eager to join the United Farm Workers, while the other falls into drugs after a tour of duty in Vietnam, and begins working for the landowners.

In the title role of Mundo was one of Valdez's sons, Kinan, who shares his father's beliefs in the social significance of art and seeks to instill those ideas in El Teatro Campesino of the future. "We, the new generation at the theater, really want to take the company back to its roots in agitational propaganda," Kinan Valdez told the San Jose Mercury News. "The farm-workers are still stuck in the same place. We want to remind people of the struggle."

In his work, Valdez attempts to illustrate, not just the plight of Latinos and the prejudices they face, but also the fact that there are differences among all people and that there is much to be learned from them. "What comes out in the final analysis," he told the students at San Diego State University, "is we are all more alike than we think, we're just from different tribes."

Selected Works


The Shrunken Head of Pancho Villa, 1964.

La Virgen de Tepeyac, 1971.

La Carpa de los Rasquachis, 1974.

El Fin del Mundo, 1976.

Zoot Suit, 1979.

Tibercio Vasquez, 1980.

Corridos: Tales of Passion and Revolution, 1983.

I Don't Have to Show You No Stinking Badges, 1986.

Bandido!, 1994.

The Mummified Deer, 2000.

Mundo Mata, 2001.


Which Way Is Up?, 1977.

Zoot Suit, (also director)1982.

La Bamba, (also director) 1987.

Television Plays and Movies

Corridos: Tales of Passion and Revolution, (also director) 1987.

La Pastorela: A Shepherd's Tale, 1991.

The Cisco Kid, (also director), 1993.


Actos: Produced Between 1965-70, Cucaracha Press, 1971.

Aztlan: An Anthology of Mexican American Literature, (with Stan Steiner), Knopf, 1972.

Pensamiento Serpentino: A Chicano Approach to the Theater of Reality, Cucaracha Press, 1973.


Albuquerque Journal, April 1, 2001.

Daily Aztec (San Diego State University), May 11, 2000.

Modesto Bee, April 29, 2000.

San Jose Mercury News, May 31, 2001.


Additional information for this profile was obtained from El Teatro Campesino.

—Brian Escamilla

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Theodosius I to David Watmough Biography - David Watmough comments:Luis Valdez: 1940—: Playwright, Director, Writer, Actor, Teacher Biography - El Teatro Campesino, La Bamba, Back To "the Farmworker Question"