XV Annual Conference of the International Society of Luso-Hispanic Humor Studies logo

The International Society for Luso-Hispanic Humor Studies (ISLH/HS) promotes the study and appreciation of humor wherever Spanish and Portuguese are spoken. The society encourages all areas of humor scholarship in the Luso-Brazilian and Hispanic worlds. It is dedicated to dissemination of information to a diverse population and encourages communication with others interested in this expanding field. 

We are excited to welcome LUIS VALDEZ, 
internationally renowned playwright and director, as our featured keynote speaker

Luis Valdez

Founder & Artistic Director of El Teatro Campesino


Thursday, October 16, 2014, 6:30-7:30 pm

Orvis Auditorium, University of Hawai‘i at Manoa campus

At play in the fields of California, Luis Valdez founded El Teatro Campesino on the picket lines of the Great Delano Grape Strike in 1965, headed by Cesar Chavez, leader of the United Farm Workers of America. Considered the father of Chicano Theater, Valdez is still going strong, having just staged his newest play “Valley of the Heart” at his company’s playhouse in San Juan Bautista, California. About to celebrate El Teatro’s 50th anniversary in 2015, the noted playwright, director and filmmaker examines the origins and evolution of his Farm Workers Theater, which he originally described as existing “somewhere between Brecht and Cantinflas.” Creating biting satirical actos on the picket lines, the company of striking farm workers quickly learned to use humor as a non-violent weapon. Striking out on their own two years later, El Teatro Campesino became an independent non-profit cultural center, creating new plays, murals, records, books, videos and films that helped to inspire and define the Chicano Movement. Starting with documentaries and specials on PBS, Valdez went on to write and direct feature films, notably “Zoot Suit” and “La Bamba.” A half century down the road, from the picket lines to Broadway, from university campuses to Hollywood studios, he now looks back at the trajectory of his career as an American maestro. 

Mr. Valdez's talk is free and open to the public. (Other conference presentations require paid registration).

Biography: Luis 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 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 remained 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.

Luis numerous feature film and television credits include, among others, 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.

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 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.

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 fifty USArtists so honored across the United States.

The Department of Languages & Literatures of Europe and the Americas and the College of Languages, Linguistics, & Literature at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa are pleased to organize and host the 15th Annual Conference of the International Society for Luso-Hispanic Humor Studies on October 16-17, 2014 in Honolulu, Hawai‘i.  E komo mai (welcome) and aloha!