Bandido! deals with the life and times, and subsequent death of Tiburcio Vasquez, the last of the Mexican California resistance fighters. Written in 1979/1980, Bandido! was first staged by El Teatro Campesino in 1982, as part of a celebration of 19th Century history in San Juan Bautista, where Vasquez himself lived from 1863-1865. The events of the play cover the last desperate robbery by Vasquez and his followers in Tres Pinos, California and their pursuit by lawmen and their posses across the state all the way to Los Angeles, where the notorious bandit was wounded and captured. His notoriety inspired an impresario to stage the capture of Vasquez in an instant melodrama, which was a big hit in an LA theater, while the bandit was behind bars in the city jail. As a bilingual poet and "ladies man," Vasquez had all the makings of a matinee idol and, despite the unsavory nature of his crimes, he was visited by women until the end. Playwright Luis Valdez thought the layering of melodrama upon melodrama was suitable material for a play that questions the "manifest destiny of the Old West" while mocking the melodramatic excesses of the period.