When Luis Valdez founded El Teatro Campesino (The Farm Workers’ Theatre), he solicited members by declaring that no experience was necessary. Under his mentorship, those whose lives were defined by stooping for menial wages in fields throughout California suddenly stood erect on stage, their words crafted by Valdez’s hand and their presence calling attention to their plight. Since 1965, El Teatro Campesino (ETC) has remained steadfast in its mission of nurturing talent, advocating for social justice, and educating its audience.
In a nod to its storied past and in celebration of its 50th anniversary marked last year, ETC is offering a free, Teatro Workshop in Hollister on Saturday, Sept. 17 and Sunday, Sept. 18. Open to all ages and levels of ability, the event will be held at the Sunnyslope Elementary School Multipurpose Room.
In an interview with BenitoLink, ETC’s Education Director, Christy Sandoval, explained that the bilingual workshop will consist of four, hour-and-a-half, stand-alone sessions scheduled over two days. Registration is limited to 20 to 30 participants per session.
The workshop will be facilitated by ETC members—actors, musicians, and other performers—and will include an introduction to El Teatro's unique brand of theater making.
Sandoval said theater games, coupled with live music, will be played during each session in order to “unlock the creative potential” of participants and “to enhance their performances.”
A Local Impact grant secured through the California Arts Council is funding the workshop, she added. The grant “fosters equity, access, and opportunity by providing project and partnership support for small arts organizations reaching underserved communities,” according to the arts council’s website.
Last year, ETC’s producing artistic director and Valdez’s son, Kinan, piloted the workshop in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, explained Sandoval.
Organizing this year’s Hollister workshop are Sandoval and Emily Morales, an ETC member who serves as a teaching artist for the theater company.
Sandoval and Morales recently made history, becoming the first women to both direct and produce a ETC production. ”¡Viva La Causa! (Long Live the Cause!)” ran at the company’s playhouse this past summer.
The pair, explained Sandoval, would like for workshop participants walk away with a better understanding of the theater company’s history, its mission, and its long presence in San Juan Bautista.
They also hope that the hour-and-a-half workshop session encourages attendees to visit the company's playhouse, discovering the various ways to get involved with ETC.
"We would like to spark some curiosity in participants to explore the options to participate in El Teatro, including being part of our upcoming productions, like 'Dia De Los Muertos' and 'La Virgen Del Tepeyac'," Sandoval said.
The scheduled workshops are as follows:
Sat, Sept. 17
Workshop #1: 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Workshop #2: 1-2:30 p.m.
Sun, Sept. 18
Workshop #3: 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Workshop #4: 1-2:30 p.m.
To register for one of this weekend’s teatro workshop sessions, contact Emily Morales at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Indicate in the subject line the workshop you are interested in attending.
For more information about El Teatro Campesino visit its website or contact the playhouse at:
705 Fourth Street
P.O. Box 1240
San Juan Bautista, CA 95045