‘August 29’ Drama to Explore Course of Chicano Movement


Deep in the hearts of Violeta Calles and Jose Luis Valenzuela lies the question of what happened to the Chicano movement.

“August 29,” written by Calles and directed by Valenzuela, will attempt to open the subject to audiences at the Los Angeles Theatre Center opening on Aug. 30.

For the record:

12:00 a.m. Aug. 30, 1990 For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday August 30, 1990 Nuestro Tiempo Edition Nuestro Tiempo Page 7 Column 1 Nuestro Tiempo Desk 2 inches; 46 words Type of Material: Correction
Theatre Work--Because of erroneous information provided by the Latino Theatre Lab, Nuestro Tiempo reported in its July issue that the drama work “August 29” was written by Violeta Calles. In fact, Calles is a ficticious name. The work was written as a collaborative project of the Latino Theater Lab of Los Angeles Theatre Center.

The LATC’s Latino Theatre Lab play, the first full length play by Calles, delves into this emotionally charged issue as its lead character, a Chicano Studies professor, must pull herself away from her academic shield to recall her past involvement and deal with her present indifference.


Lucero Trevino, as the 35-year-old professor, “reflects a large sector of the Chicano community who are professionals because of the civil rights and Chicano movements . . . but are not involved in the present-day struggle,” said Evelina Fernandez, a 12-year veteran actress reared in East Los Angeles, who plays the older Trevino.

The university professor relives those late 1960s, early 1970s movement days while writing a book on the life of Los Angeles Times columnist Ruben Salazar, who was killed during the chaos of the Aug. 29, 1970, National Chicano Moratorium march and rioting.

Although the play is set in 1990, the character of Salazar comes to life to aid the university professor recall the past and to challenge her to renew her involvement in the movement.

“Ruben was a part of this community. He was a bridge between the average person on the street in the barrio and members of the intelligentsia,” said E. J. Castillo, a 20-year veteran film and stage actor who plays Salazar. But, Castillo said, “He was not the only person killed that day (two others died). “We’re trying to put that into perspective; what he was and what role he played in the movement itself.”

“August 29” will “hit home,” said Valenzuela, who has directed at the Latino Lab for the last five years. He said it will also raise questions, such as “What happened to the Chicano community? What happened to East L.A.?”

Researchers for the play interviewed key figures of the Chicano movement and others who have chronicled the events of Aug. 29, 1970. Calles herself, who was raised in East Los Angeles, was involved in the movement as a 15-year-old student.


But Valenzuela stressed that “it’s a fictitious story. It’s not like a documentary. We’re using (Aug. 29, 1970) as a launch date to the play.”

Latino Theatre Lab ensemble members Fernandez, Castillo, Sal Lopez, Angela Moya and Lupe Ontiveros, all of whom acted in the 1978 hit play “Zoot Suit,” will perform five of the nine characters in the two-hour long play.

The Latino Theatre Lab commissions playwrights, holds ensemble and young actors workshops and sponsors “new voices,” a play-reading series.

Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring St., (213) 627-6500; Tickets $22-$27; group and student rates available; Previews begin Aug. 14. Special Chicano movement memorial performance Aug. 29. Regular performances from Aug. 30 until Oct. 14.; Tuesday-Sunday at 8 p.m.; matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.