This photo shows Chicano theater director Luis Valdez with a combined acting team of members of the El Teatro Campesino theater company (United States) and Los Mascarones (Mexico City) . This historic meeting was between two group of artists from both sides of the border that shared powerful common roots.

The Chicano theater company El Teatro Campesino (The Farm Worker’s Theater) met members of the Mexico City theater company Los Mascarones (The Masked Ones) at the first Chicano Theater festival convened in Fresno, California in 1969. The two companies discovered they had much in common–not only did they address issues of farm worker exploitation but were both grappling with the best way to reach audiences. Both mounted political works not in traditional theaters but in public places–parks, community centers and schools.

In 1973, Los Mascarones, headed by director Mariano Leyba, returned to the United States for a tour of the United States performing at colleges and universities. They had wanted to work with El Teatro Campesino for some time and, with the encouragement of Los Angeles television producers José Luis Ruiz and Jesús Treviño, agreed to collaborate on a film project to be titled “Somos Uno” (We are One).

The documentary of the collaboration included an “acto” taking place in the United States performed by members of El Teatro Campesino and a skit involving Mexican farm workers performed by members of Los Mascarones. The original third act, improvised during the week-end of filming, brought the two storylines together. The final act showed the common struggle of Mexican and Chicano farm workers. and involved actors from both groups. The film was shot over the week-end of June 16th and 17th, 1973 and was later broadcast on the Los Angeles PBS station KCET.

This photo, taken on the afternoon of Sunday, June 17th, 1973, shows Luis Valdez working to bring the improvised third act together.

Photo Credit: Gayla Treviño.