Luis Valdez On Creating “I Don’t Have to Show You No Stinking Badges”

LuisValdez.510Writer/Director Luis Valdez’s I Don’t Have to Show you No Stinking Badges which had its world premiere on the Los Angeles stage at the Los Angele Theater Center at (LATC) in 1986 returns to the City of Angels at Josefina Lopez’s New Casa 0101 Theater  where it will have a limited run from February 8 – March 10, 2013.  New Casa 0101 Theater is located at 2102 E. First Street (at St. Louis Street; Boyle Heights, CA  90033.

Recently playwright and screenwriter Luis Valdez (Zoot Suit, La Bamba and Cisco Kid)  discussed the events that lead to his writing of this impact-full play that delved into the then, and continuing issues, of negative stereotypes in Hollywood.

“My first exposure to the Hollywood moviemaking system was when I went to work as a writer and actor in a 1977 movie called Which Way Is Up? starring Richard Pryor helmed by African American director, Michael Schultz.  Michael was a social activist and pioneer during the decade of ‘black exploitation’ movies in the 70s, and he asked me to help him depict some Mexican American characters in a truthful way in his film.

“Knowing of my work with El Teatro Campesino in the Delano Grape Strike, he hired me to rewrite scenes depicting farm workers, then he gave me access, although he didn’t have to, into the whole Hollywood filmmaking process.  I rewrote the scenes so that the characters were more authentic, not stereotypical, and then played the role of Ramon Juarez in the film, which was based on the character of César Chavez.  Later, sticking around the set, and observing the shoot at Michael’s invitation, I got my first tutorial on the inside track of the business.

Play Runs at Casa 0101 Feb. 8 - Mar 10th
Play Runs at Casa 0101 Feb. 8 – Mar 10th

“During the making of the film, I had the opportunity to meet many people, including actors who played roles of ‘extras’ or ‘bit parts.’  Three of the actors who portrayed the roles of ‘extras’ in the film would try to sneak into and wedge themselves into scenes, whether they were supposed to be in them, or not.  Minorities didn’t get cast in lead roles that much in those days, and these ‘extras’ made a game of it.  One of these ‘extra’ actors had appeared in the film The Treasure of Sierra Madre.

“It was the experience of working on the film, Which Way Is Up that became the inspiration for my play I Don’t Have To Show You No Stinking Badges, which was first produced in Los Angeles in 1986.  Ironically enough, life imitated art in 1989 when a young Chicano named Jose Luis Razo, Jr., dubbed the Harvard homeboy by the press, was arrested for holding up a fast food restaurant, much like the Chicano character of Sonny Villa in my play.  Sonny’s love interest in the play is a Japanese girl named Anita Sakai.  I wrote the character as a third generation Japanese American girl because Sonny is trying to relate to Anglo reality in the play, but having a sansei girlfriend from the East Coast is like looking into a mirror.

“I grew up as a cotton picker in the 40s and 50s when discrimination was absolute.  So when I went to college in 1958, I quickly joined the Civil Rights Movement. I studied African American History and discovered my racial and cultural consciousness.  Theatre is my way of introducing people to Chicano reality.  As a writer/director in Hollywood, I’ve had to use the Anglo side of my personality, but at that same time as a Mexican American, I’ve fought for equal representation of Chicano/Latino writers, directors and actors like myself, to insure we all get a fair shake.  In this regard, with Jesus Treviño, I founded the Latino Committee at the Directors Guild of America in the late 80s.

“In my line of work as a playwright and director, one also has to learn how to stage a play creatively and economically when sometimes you don’t have the financial resources to put it all together.   And besides the production of the play itself, there is much to be said about the power of the gesture, when used with skill.  I try to bring cultural sophistication to my all work by writing truthful characters with depth and understanding.”

This production of I Don’t Have to Show you No Stinking Badges is made possible in part thanks to the generous support of Casa 0101 sponsors, including The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation, the California Endowment, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, the Herb Alpert Foundation, Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles – Designated Local Authority, the California Foundation for Stronger Communities, the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation and Metro.

Ticket prices for performances during the five-week limited run of the show from February 8 – March 10, 2013 will be $20 per person for General Admission; $17 per person for Seniors; and $15 per person for Students/Boyle Heights residents.  Discounts for Groups are also available. Advance reservations are highly recommended.  Theatre patrons can get a $2 discount by presenting their Metro Bus Cards at the Box Office when buying tickets.  For tickets, please call the Casa 0101 Theater Box Office at 323-263-7684, E-mail tickets@casa0101.org, or buy online atwww.casa0101.org.

Discounted Previews:
Friday and Saturday, February 1 and 2, 2013 at 8:00 p.m.
And Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:00 p.m.

Five-Week Run:
Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m.
And Sundays at 5:00 p.m.
Previews:  February 1, 2 and 3, 2013
Limited Run:  February 8 – March 10, 2013