Theatre of the Sphere

The Vibrant Being

By Luis Valdez
Edited by Michael Chemers

Book Description from Routledge

Theatre of the Sphere is Luis Valdez’s exploration of the principles that underlie his innovations as a playwright, teacher, and theatrical innovator. He discusses the unique aesthetic, more than five decades in the making, that defines the work of his group El Teatro Campesino—from shows staged on the backs of flatbed trucks by the participants in the Delano Grape Strike of the 1960s to international megahits like Zoot Suit.

Opening with a history of El Teatro Campesino, rich with Valdez’s insights and remembrances, the book’s first part provides context for the development of the Theatre of the Sphere acting method. The second part delivers the conceptual framework for Valdez’s acting theory and practice, situating it in Mayan mathematics and metaphysics. The third part of the book applies this methodology to describe the “viente pasos,” the 20-element exercise sequence that comprises the core practice of El Teatro Campesino—strengthening the body, balance, precision, and flexibility but also leadership, collaboration, observation, vulnerability, trust, and expression of passion; of consciousness of time, place, self, community, language, and belief; of honour, faith, morality, and commitment. The book concludes with the full text of Valdez’s poem, “El Buen Actor/El Mal Actor,” and a comprehensive bibliography for further study.

This is a vital and indispensable text for today’s actor, as well as scholars and students of contemporary theatre, American and Chicano performance, and the process of theatre-making, actor training, and community performance.