Facts on Trial: Documentary Theatre and Zoot Suit

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Contribution to Books

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When Zoot Suit premiered on April 20, 1978 as part of the Mark Taper Forum's "New Theatre for Now" 1977-1978 season, the set featured a blow-up of the front page of the Los Angeles Herald Express, dated Thursday, June 3, 1943.1 The biggest headline described action on the war front: "AMERICAN BOMBER VICTIM OF JAP RAIDER." Other headlines included news of a coal strike, a report on the irregularity of New York stocks, and the national weather report. Local events were represented as well: "Death awakens Sleepy Lagoon: L.A. Shaken by Lurid 'Kid' Murder" and "Grand Jury to Act in Zoot Suit War". At first glance none but historians might notice the chronological inconsistencies, although perhaps the older Los Angelenos, particularly the Mexican Americans who flocked to see this play in great numbers, would have recognized that this realistic-looking front page was actually a composite of reported events that took place over a couple years during the first half of the 1940s.

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