The Sweetheart Deal

  • Old-looking sketch of a horsedrawn stagecoach

The Sweetheart Deal

Written by Diane Rodriguez
Directed by Sara Guerrero
Jacquelyne Estrada, scenic design
Savannah Flower, costume design
Kassia Curl, lighting design
Melanie Lopez, sound design
Sam Allen, production stage manager


April 29 - May 7, 2023

Robert Cohen Theatre

A woman finds her calling while volunteering for an underground political newspaper during the early years of the United Farm Workers movement. In 1970, things were tumultuous for Cesar Chavez and the UFW. Obie Award-winning writer-director Diane Rodriguez traces its history through the eyes of two journalists who leave their comfortable middle-class life in San Jose to volunteer for El Malcriado, the underground newspaper founded by Chavez and Dolores Huerta.

It’s the 1970s, a tumultuous time in the U.S. with the Vietnam War protests, the energy crisis, the Watergate (presidential) scandal and the United Farm Workers (UFW) Movement, just to name a few. And, at the core of the story is a woman, Mari, who comes to consciousness. It’s through her volunteering with her spouse, Will, at an underground political newspaper (in Delano, California) that she attempts to uncover a secret “sweetheart deal” between growers and teamsters that could be at the great expense of the farm workers and efforts of Cesar Chavez and the UFW strikes. Eventually, Mari begins to understand what activism means for herself and ultimately how it impacts her community. The story unfolds into two realities: THE PLAY and THE ACTOS. ACTOS were short sketches created and toured (often on the bed of work trucks) by Luis Valdez and El Teatro Campesino to inform the farm workers of the pressing issues of the strike. We heal by revealing the truth.

Generous support for this production is provided by the Robert and Lorna Cohen Endowment for Excellence in Drama, Theatre Guild, and Claire Trevor Society.

This show contains depictions of violence and death, some adult situations including romantic intimacy (no sexual activity) and use of strobe/flashing lights.

Evenings: April 29; May 4, 5, 6 at 8:00 p.m.
Matinees: April 30*; May 7 at 2:00 p.m.
Evening: May 3 at 7:30 p.m.

* Please join us for a TalkBack with cast & crew, after the 2:00 p.m. matinee performance on Sun., April 30.

General admission: $19
Seniors, Groups 10+, UCI Faculty & Staff: $16
Arts Packages: $15
UCI Students & Children under 17: $12

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Performance Program

Saturday Apr 29, 2023, 8:00 pm
Sunday Apr 30, 2023, 2:00 pm
Wednesday May 3, 2023, 7:30 pm
Thursday May 4, 2023, 8:00 pm
Friday May 5, 2023, 8:00 pm
Saturday May 6, 2023, 8:00 pm
Sunday May 7, 2023, 2:00 pm