Randall Nakano, Andres Ortiz and Melanie Mah star in “Valley of the Heart.” (Photo by Robert Eliason)
Randall Nakano, Andres Ortiz and Melanie Mah star in “Valley of the Heart.” (Photo by Robert Eliason)

SAN JUAN BAUTISTA — El Teatro Campesino kicks off its celebration of its 50th year with “Valley of the Heart: A Kabuki Corrido,” a work-in-progress written and directed by Founding Artistic Director Luis Valdez.

Shows are Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. at El Teatro Campesino Playhouse, 705 Fourth St., San Juan Bautista. A Closing Saturday “$50 for the 50th” anniversary event will be held on Oct. 11. The show closes Oct. 12.

“Valley of the Heart” is a love story, rooted in historical events set in the fertile Santa Clara Valley near San Jose, known as the Valley of Heart’s Delight in 1941.

Opening in the days leading up to Pearl Harbor, it is the dramatic interaction of two families — the Yamaguchis and the Montanos. Coming out of the Great Depression, both immigrant families struggle to provide for the future of their American-born children. The families’ oldest children, Ben and Teruko, fall in love and emotional stakes are further heightened when the Japanese attack Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941 throwing both families into uncertainty.

Issues of loyalty and patriotism provoke both rebellion and heroism among young, imprisoned Japanese Americans while both Thelma and Benjamin fight to maintain their dignity, identity, family, and love in the face of war, fear, and separation.

This sweeping epic played to sold-out houses during its run last summer and returns by popular demand.

El Teatro Campesino is the nation’s pre-eminent Chicano/Latino theater company. From the migrant labor fields to Broadway, playwright/director/filmmaker Valdez remains true to his original vision — performance that addresses the Chicano experience in America in a context meaningful to all Americans. He is a founding member of the California Arts Council. His best known works include “Zoot Suit,” “La Bamba,” and “Corridos,” winner of the George Peabody Award.

Tickets are $27 for adults, $25 for seniors and students, $20 for children. Special discounts for groups, veterans and union members are available. For tickets, contact Brown Paper Tickets at (800) 838-3006 or http://valley.brownpapertickets.com. For group sales, call (408) 623-2444. For more information on the show, visit www.valleyoftheheart.com.

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