Zoot Suit (1981, 2003)

Video jacket: Zoot Suit Video jacket: Zoot Suit

Arguably El Teatro Campesino's most famous play, Zoot Suit was originally produced in 1978 at the Mark Taper Form where it ran for an unprecedented twelve weeks and has since then been revived numerous times, including this production in 2003. In 1981, it was adapted into a feature film for Universal Films.  Zoot Suit is based on the 1942 "Sleepy Lagoon" murder mystery and the Zoot Suit Riots that occurred in Los Angeles after that. The riots took place in the racially charged environment of Los Angeles where sailors, soldiers and marines returning from World War II came into conflict with local Mexican zoot suiters. On June 3, 1943 a group of servicemen alleged they had been assaulted by a group of Pachucos, Mexican American youth who had their own subculture during the 1930s and 40s in the American Southwest. They wore distinctive clothing, such as zoot suits, and spoke a dialect, Calo, which is represented in this ETC production; they were often associated with gang activity. A larger group of servicemen gathered in the center of the Mexican community in Los Angeles where they attacked men wearing zoot suits. The police responded by arresting Mexican American youths, who had been attacked in the riots, for disturbing the peace. ETC's Zoot Suit combines fact and fiction to show the fate of twenty-two Mexican Americans brought to trial for a murder they did not commit. The character of Henry Reyna is based upon real-life zoot suiter Henry Leyvas, who was tried and wrongfully convicted of first-degree murder of Jose Diaz in 1942 (the Sleepy Lagoon murder). Reyna and his friends were set free in 1945 after the Zoot Suit Riots and the banning of zoot suits in Los Angeles in 1944. The goal of this production was to lock into a definitive stage version, while allowing a new generation of artists to take it where they will.


Permanent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2333.1/k6djhb42

Additional Info

  • Title: Zoot Suit
  • Holdings: photo gallery, program, video (HIDVL)
  • Duration: 01:20:29
  • Language: English, Spanish, Caló
  • Date: 2003
  • Location: San Juan Bautista, California.
  • Type-Format: play, performance, film, community theater
  • Cast: Raul Sabino Cardona, Lupe Correa, Lakin Valdez, Josh A. Sanchez, Patrick Bautista, Bodie Olmos, Anita Reyes, Malinda DeRouen, Gilbert Chavarria, Steven Perez, Sandra Longoria, Lisanne Villa, Andres Miranda, Andres Sinohui, Gwendolyn Dreyer, Nick Doan, Olgalydia Urbano, Luis Valdez, Seth Millwood, Anahuac Valdez, Rosa M. Apodaca, Lupe Valdez, Rosa M. Escalante, Paul Myrvold, Noe Montoya, Estrella Esparza.
  • Credits: Anahuac Valdez, producer; Kinan Valdez, director; Lakin Valdez, assistant director; Luis Valdez, writer; Dan Kuramato, music; Lalo Guerrero, song composition; Laura Akard, choreography; Joe Cardinalli, set design; Gabriela Fernandez, costume design; Paul Skelton, lighting; Emiliano Valdez, sound design; Milt Commons, stage manager; Mahito Shirako, technical director; Olgalydia Urbano, vocal director; Los Chucos Suavez, Marijuan Boogie, Vamos a Bailar (music and lyrics by Lalo Guerrero); Zoot Suit Boogie (music by Luis Prima, lyrics by Luis Valdez; inspired by Chicas Patas Boogie (music and lyrics by Lalo Guerrero)).

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