Zoot Suit by Luis ValdezDrama. Latino/Latina Studies. This bilingual edition combines the original English-language version with the first-ever Spanish translation of the critically acclaimed play by Luis Valdez, a work that cracked open the depiction of Chicanos on the stage, challenging viewers to revisit a troubled moment in our nations history. From the moment the myth-infused character El Pachuco burst onto the stage, literally cutting his way through the drop curtain with a switchblade, Valdez spurred a revolution in Chicano theater. Experimenting with brash forms of narration, pop culture of the war era, and complex characterizations, this quintessential exploration of the Mexican-American experience in the United States during the 1940s was the first, and only, Chicano play to open on Broadway.
Zoot Suit Riots
In June , Los Angeles erupted into the worse race riots in the city to date. Mexican youths aggressively struck back. The fighting intensified and on the worst night, taxi drivers offered free rides to the riot area. One LA paper even printed a guide on how to "de-zoot" a zoot-suiter. When the violence ended, scores of Mexicans and servicemen were in hospital beds. Decked out in wide brim hats, baggy pants, high boots and long-tailed coats, these "zoot-suiters" called each other "mad cats.
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The Zoot Suit
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Phyllis Estrella turned to her husband Ray after seeing the play Zoot Suit at the Mark Taper Forum one night in with a new passion for the fashion. Phyllis sought a zoot suit just like it for her brother. Taking matters into their own hands, Ray and Phyllis decided to open a new store in Fullerton that same year, first selling wallet chains before finding the right tailor in Edmundo Galvan to bring the elusive zoot suit back to life How elusive? Last year, LACMA disclosed it had searched more than a decade before acquiring perhaps the last zoot suit still in existence. When audiences now watch the saga based on the Sleepy Lagoon murder case and the LA Zoot Suit Riots that followed in , actors in the play recreate history in wardrobe provided by their El Pachuco store.
The zoot suit consisted of a broad-shouldered drape jacket, balloon-leg trousers , and, sometimes, a flamboyant hat. Mexican and Mexican American youths who wore these outfits were called zoot-suiters. Pressures related to U. Workers were needed in the agricultural and service sectors of the United States to fill the jobs vacated by those who were serving in the military. An agreement was reached with Mexico whereby temporary workers from Mexico were brought into the United States.