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The KUT Longhorn Radio Network Presents: Mexican American Experience Collection

Audio recordings including interviews, music, and informational programs related to the Mexican American community and their concerns in the series "The Mexican American Experience" and "A esta hora conversamos" from the Longhorn Radio Network, 1976-1982.

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Chicano Expressive Culture: Corridos, Carpas And Teatro Campesino
Program #

Richard Goodman
Richard Goodman
Mar 10, 1977

Chicano expressive culture: Corridos, carpas and Teatro Campesino

Richard Goodman first discusses Chicano Theatre and the ways it has influenced and reflected Mexican American Society. Goodman first discusses the life and work of Luis Valdez, the founder of Teatro Campesino, Farm Workers’ Theatre, in 1965. Valdez’ early sketches, or Actos, primarily focused on the daily life of the strikers and incorporated a variety of styles and techniques, including those from the dramas of Europe, Japan, Ancient Greece and indigenous America. According to Dr. Carlota Cardenas de Dwyer, Valdes adapted all of the techniques to his interests and aims, and in so doing, his style reflects one of the hallmarks of the Chicano artist, who chooses which ancestral legacies to work with and adapt. Later in his career, Valdez’ work began to cover a variety of themes affecting Chicanos, including the Vietnam War and discrimination, and featured increasingly complex characters. Across the country, satellite groups performed his actos and other forms of popular theatre. Almost simultaneously, other Chicano playwrights, including Estella Portillo, were producing more sophisticated literary dramas reproduced in Chicano periodicals like El Grito. Goodman explains that while popular theatre originated in the activism of its creators, Chicano literary dramas are performed as art alone, and not as activism.

Goodman then discusses the origins of the corrido, the role it played in early Mexican American society and how it has changed over time. Goodman explains that corridos, one of the most significant forms of Chicano music, originated in the mid 19th century and constituted a major source of entertainment and communication for Mexican Americans. Corridos, which follow a very particular format and rhythm were often based on real events, people or places and provided a Mexican American historical perspective. Dr. Americo Paredes, who studied corridos, found that many early corridos dealt with Indian raids and guerrilla warfare. They often retell the story of border heroes, such as Juan Cortina, who fought against Anglo encroachment and stood for justice. Up until World War II, Corridos often told the story of ordinary men who when wronged took a stand and fought back until the very end. These heroes represented the Mexican masculine ideal who will defend his rights against all odds. In the post-war period, they covered such topics as Hurricane Beulah, Chicano militancy and the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Although, corridos are declining in popularity, they remain a significant part of Chicano history because they provided them with a glimmer of hope during the violence inflicted by Anglos in the aftermath of the Mexican-American War.


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