In 1965 Luis Valdez began thinking of a theater for farm workers which would bring together his roots as the son of migrant laborers and his theater teaching.
2. He thought that if any theater was going to apple to these workers it would have to be lively, bawdy, outdoor style of the Mime Troupe.
3. In 1965 the National Farm Workers Association of Cesar Chavez began to test its strength by joining the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee in a strike against the grape growers in Delano, California.
4. Nearly all of the field workers in California were Chicanos--of American Indian and Spanish ancestry.
5. They had poor or nonexistent formal education and limited English. They were very reluctant to strike and were given very low wages and many were close to the poverty level. They wanted to form a union but this process was moving slow.
6. The start of El Teatro Campesino started when Valdez hung signs on workers saying HuelgistaI (striker) on two of the men and Esquirol (scab) on a third who was instructed to act like a scab. .
7. They gave their first presentation in Filipino Hall. The company would spend most of their time in the cities performing to raise money for the strike and return of Delano to provide entertainment for weekly union meetings.
8. The theatrical form which had taken shape came to be called acto. It was a short bilingual skit of perhaps fifteen minutes dealing in a comic way with situations in the lives of Chicano workers.
9. The style of the performance was similar to that of the San Francisco Mime Troupe as adapted from commedia dellâ€™ arte.
10. They used broad energetic movement that could convey a situation even without words, and some performers wore masks which highlighted the stereotype characters.
11. The group managed their first national tour in the summer of 1967 to raise funds and publicize the strike.
12. El Teatro Campesino became independent of the union and moved to Del Rey, a small suburb of Fresco about sixty miles north of Delano.