Luis Valdez’s Bandido! at The Western Stage’s Mainstage Theater 9/10/16-10/1/16



The Western Stage continues its 42nd repertory season with a newly revised version of Luis Valdez’s musical play Bandido! The American Melodrama of Tiburcio Vásquez, Notorious California Bandit.

The show is a stunning biography, a thumping melodrama, and an epic political satire all rolled into one, exploring the turbulent and controversial life of Tiburcio Vásquez. Bandido! runs September 10 through October 1, 2016 at The Western Stage’s Mainstage Theater at Hartnell College, 411 Central Ave., Salinas.

Originally staged by El Teatro Campesino in 1982, Bandido! tells the story of local legend Tiburcio Vásquez’s last desperate robbery in 1875. After the bloody crime that took place in Tres Pinos, Vásquez is captured in southern California and transferred and held in a San Jose prison. Looking to capitalize on the dramatic events, a local impresario stages a melodrama telling the exciting tale about Vásquez and his capture.

Bandido! takes place all over California, including Tres Pinos, the spot of Vásquez’s capture in Laurel Canyon, and his jail cell in San Jose. The play bounces back and forth between gritty reality and the overblown theatricality of the melodrama.

Bandido! is truly a slice of rich local history. Although Vásquez ends up hanging for his crimes, playwright Valdez stays far from painting him as a one dimensional villain. In a review for a major 1994 revival ofBandido! at the Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles Times theatre critic Laurie Winer wrote, “In deconstructing the myth of the bandido, Valdez romanticizes him anew, making him a Hamlet … complete with a strong aversion to whatever violent acts he might be forced into contemplating.”

As part of our {reActions} series, playwright Luis Valdez will answer audience questions after the matinee performance of Bandido! on September 25.

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