Luis Alfaro is a renowned Chicano performance artist, writer, theater director, and social activist. His plays and fiction are set in Los Angeles's Chicano barrios, including the Pico Union district, and often feature gay and lesbian and working-class themes. Many of Alfaro's plays also deal with the AIDS pandemic in Latino communities. Noted plays include Bitter Homes and Gardens, Pico Union, Downtown,Cuerpo Politizado,Straight as a Line, Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, No Holds Barrio and Black Butterfly. Many of these plays have also been published as stories or poetry.
Alfaro has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the MacArthur "Genius" Foundation Fellowship in 1997, and the 1988 National Hispanic Playwriting Competition Prize. His writing, both sole-authored and collaborative, is collected in numerous anthologies. In 1994 his spoken-word CD, Downtown was released. His short film Chicanismo was produced by the PBS and released in 1999. He also contributed to the 1995 film Pochonovela, a collaboration between the Cuban American performer Coco Fusco and the LA-based Chicano performance ensemble, Chicano Secret Service. This mock telenovela explores and sends up Chicano activism and assimilation in a sardonic exploration of working class barrio life. In 2010, his play Oedipus El Rey, a Chicano retelling of Oedipus Rex, had its world premiere at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco.