NPN Documentation and Storytelling Fund
I am happy to announce that Conjunto Blues has been awarded NPN's Documentation and Storytelling Fund to support ongoing development,...
Written and Performed by
Nicolás R. Valdez
Conjunto Blues, written and performed by Nicolás R. Valdez, is a play that explores the social and historical conditions that led to the development of Conjunto music as an expression of cultural resistance and liberation. This story centers on playwright, actor, and musician Nicolás Valdez’s personal experience growing up in the Conjunto music scene and is loosely based on the relationship with his grandfather, himself a Conjunto music aficionado. Audiences are taken through a shifting landscape of memory and reflection that is highlighted throughout with traditional music performed live by Valdez and accompanied by musicians on Bajo Sexto (12 string Mexican guitar), Tololoche (upright bass), and drums. Filled with a cast of colorfully poignant characters, Conjunto Blues is a deeply personal performance for audiences of all ages and backgrounds that is sure to entertain and educate.
“The focus of this work, for me, has always been to highlight the many contributions of the Mexican-American community to the cultural fabric of this country," says Nicolas Valdez, "and to show audiences how Conjunto Music, an original and uniquely American form of musical expression, became the soundtrack for the 20th century Mexican-American working-class experience.”
A Personal Journey
Conjunto Blues made its World Premiere in April of 2013 in Denver, Colorado through the support of Su Teatro and by generous grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Performance Network. A tour of Arizona in the fall of 2015, through collaborations with Borderlands Theater, Performance in the Borderlands, the Center for Leadership and the University of Arizona culminated in a performance at the historic FOX Theater in downtown Tucson. The following year Conjunto Blues was presented at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts center as part of the 35th Annual Tejano Conjunto Festival. After a year of further development with fellow actor and director Ruben C. Gonzalez, Conjunto Blues participated in The Los Angeles Theater Company’s 2017 Encuentro de las Americas that featured three weeks of artistic exchange, cross-company co-creation, and presented performances, in repertory, for audiences across the Los Angeles area. The most recent production, a collaboration between Teatro Vivo of Austin, TX and San Antonio's Historic Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, was adapted for online viewing and made it's World Premier in December of 2020 for audiences everywhere.