Born in 1965 as an organizing tool within Cesar Chavez's United Farm Workers union, El Teatro Campesino became the premier Chicana/o performance ensemble to emerge out of the Chicano movement of the 1960s and 1970s. This study demythologizes and reinterprets the company's history from its origins in California's farm labor struggles to its successes in Europe and on Broadway until the disbanding of the original collective ensemble in 1980 with the subsequent adoption of mainstream production techniques.
Yolanda Broyles-Gonzalez corrects many misconceptions concerning the Teatro's creation and evolution. She draws from a rich storehouse of previously untapped material, such as interviews with numerous ensemble members, production notes, and unpublished diaries, to highlight the reality of the collective creation that characterized the Teatro's work.
Writing within contemporary cultural studies theory, Broyles-Gonzalez sheds light on class, gender, race, and cultural issues. Her work situates the Teatro within working-class Mexican performance history, the Chicano movement, gender relations, and recent attempts to mainstream.