Patrons packed tightly into the dimly lit Dailey Theatre Tuesday night to listen in on a lecture by the highly talented playwright Luis Valdez.
Valdez is known best for his play “Zoot Suit” and film “La Bamba,” but tonight he spoke of his experiences as a Chicano youth growing up with migrant working parents in a society built against minorities.
As Valdez recollected crucial turning points in his adolescent life, he vouched the only way our country can get through points of turmoil and hardship is through leaning on each other and turning negative events into positive experiences we can all learn and grow from.
“There is less friction now to the idea, and there used to be friction. But things are changing, and we’re in for a leap in this country and we have to take it. We must understand each other better, and we have to coordinate, and if I can do anything to assist that leap I will do so,” Valdez said.
Amongst the crowd of faculty, students and community members you could sense individuals hanging on his every word and really digesting the information.
“As a young Chicano, I felt really empowered,” said Aaron Raya a junior history major. “He spoke on how our country continually goes through hardships and its natural to resort to hate, but we are one nation and we can’t lose sight of that, because that is where the true power lies, in unity.”
Raya was touched by Valdez’s words.
“Listening to Mr. Valdez can assist me in educating my friends and family on the problems our country faces, but more importantly, it will help me seek solutions to resolve these problems.”
To close out the lecture, La Verne’s Theater department performed an excerpt from Valdez’s “Tres Actos”, a three-piece play built around the United Farm Workers struggles in the early 1960s.
“It’s incredible to see the leaps our country has made in the last 50 years in terms of how minorities are treated in work settings,” said Isaiah Gueits, a senior kinesiology major. “Hearing Valdez speak so passionately about being the change you want to see created in our country triggered something inside of me.”
Gueits took Valdez’s words to heart.
“Change is never easy, but it is inevitable. The more we embrace change and look for positive ways to implement that change into our lives, the better off our country will be.”
Valdez’s “Tres Actos” will be performed by La Verne’s theater department Thursday through Sunday at 7:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. on Sunday in Dailey Theatre. Admission is free.
Jacob Whannel can be reached at email@example.com.