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The Vibrant Being

A conversation with Luis Valdez and Professor Emeritus Dr. Jorge Huerta 

When: April 7 @ 4pm; reception and book-signing to follow at 5:30pm

Where: Hojel Hall, Institute of the Americas

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About the Talk

This conversation, moderated by Dr. Jade Power-Sotomayor, celebrates the 2021 publication of Luis Valdez's (founder of El Teatro Campesino) book "Theatre of the Sphere: The Vibrant Being," which explores the principles that underlie his philosophies as a playwright, teacher, and theatrical innovator. Mr. Valdez will be in conversation with UCSD Professor Emeritus Dr. Jorge Huerta who wrote the introduction to the book and has written extensively about Chicanx theater.


About the Panelists

Luis Valdez (Playwright/Director) 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 by Luis 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 remains embodied in all his work even after he left the UFW in 1967: his early actos Las Dos Caras del Patroncito and Quinta Temporada, (short plays written to encourage campesinos to leave the fields and join the UFW), his mitos (mythic plays) Bernabe and La Carpa de los Rasquachis that gave Chicanos their own contemporary mythology, his examinations of Chicano urban life in I Don’t Have To Show You No Stinkin’ Badges, his Chicano re-visioning of classic Mexican folktales Corridos, his exploration of his Indigenous Yaqui roots in Mummified Deer, and – of course – the play that re-exams the “Sleepy Lagoon Trial of 1942” and the “Zoot Suit Riots of 1943”, two of the darkest moments in LA urban history – Zoot Suit – considered a masterpiece of the American Theater as well as the first Chicano play on Broadway and the first Chicano major feature film. 

In 2014, Luis’ play Valley of the Heart had its world-premiere on the stage of El Teatro Campesino in rural San Juan Bautista, California. Luis numerous feature film and television credits include, among others, the box office hit film La Bamba starring Lou Diamond Phillips, Cisco Kid starring Jimmy Smits and Cheech Marin and Corridos: Tales of Passion and Revolution starring Linda Ronstadt.  Luis 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.  Luis’ hard work and long creative career have won him countless awards including numerous LA Drama Critic Awards, Dramalogue Awards, Bay Area Critics Awards, the prestigious George Peabody Award for excellence in television, the Presidential Medal of the Arts, the Governor’s Award from 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.  Mr. Valdez has written numerous plays, authored numerous articles and books.  His latest anthology Mummified Deer and Other Plays was recently published by Arte Publico Press. 

As an educator, he 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.  He is the recipient of honorary doctorates from, among others, the University of Rhode Island, the University of South Florida, Cal Arts, the University of Santa Clara and his alma mater, San Jose State University.  Mr. Valdez was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C.  In 2007, he was awarded a Rockefeller fellowship as one of the fifty US Artists so honored across the United States. 


Professor Emeritus Dr. Jorge Huerta holds the Chancellor's Associate's Endowed Chair III. He is a leading authority on contemporary Chicana/o and US Latina/o Theatre as well as a professional director. He has published a number of articles, edited three anthologies of plays and written the landmark books:  Chicano Theatre: Themes and Forms (Bilingual Press, 1982) and Chicano Drama: Performance, Society, and Myth (Cambridge 2000). Dr. Huerta has also directed in theatres across the country, including the San Diego Repertory, Seattle’s' Group Theatre, Washington D.C.’s Gala Hispanic Theatre, La Compañía de Teatro de Albuquerque and New York's Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre. Huerta has lectured and conducted workshops in Chicana/o theatre throughout the U.S. Latin America and Western Europe. In 2007 Huerta was honored by the Association for Theatre in Higher Education for “Lifetime Achievement in Educational Theater.” Huerta was honored as 2008 Distinguished Scholar Award by the American Society for Theatre Research. In 2009 Huerta was awarded the “Latino Spirit Award” by the California State Assembly for “Outstanding Achievement in Theatre and the Arts” and recognized for “Outstanding contributions to education,” upon his retirement by the California State Legislature.


About the Moderator

Professor Jade Power-Sotomayor is a Cali-Rican educator, scholar and performer who works as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance at UC San Diego. Engaging with discourses of embodiment and embodied practices of remembering and creating community, her work focuses on the fluid reconstitution of Latinx identity ultimately produced by doing and not simply being. Her research interests include: Latinx theatre and performance, dance studies, nightlife, eco-dramaturgies, epistemologies of the body, feminist of color critique, bilingualism, and intercultural performance in the Caribbean diaspora. Dr. Power-Sotomayor is currently working on a monograph called ¡Habla!:Speaking Bodies in Latinx Dance and Performance in which she theorizes her concept of "embodied code-switching" across distinct Latinx social dance spaces.  Publications can be found in TDRPerformance Matters, Latino Studies Journal, Latin American Theatre Review and The Oxford Handbook of Theatre and Dance. Dr. Power-Sotomayor also works as a dramaturg, and co-directs and performs with the San Diego group Bomba Liberté. She is grateful to her many teachers and students for gifting her a lifelong experience of learning. 



Chicanx/Latinx Studies | Chicanx/Latinx Academic Excellence Fund | Institute of the Americas
Vice Chancellor for Equity Diversity and Inclusion | Latin American Studies | Department of Ethnic Studies
International Institute | Thurgood Marshall College  |UC San Diego Library | Qualcomm Institute