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17th Century Spanish Play Adapted to a Modern High School Setting by CalArts Community Arts Partnership (CAP)/Plaza de la Raza Theater Program

CAP/Plaza de la Raza theater students perform original songs in contemporary adaptation of Life is a Dream (La Vida es Sueño) by Pedro Calderón de la Barca. Photo: Scott Groller

Middle and high school age students reimagine Pedro Calderón de la Barca’s play Life is a Dream (La Vida es Sueño).

This contemporary adaption uses original music and dance to explore the topical issue of youth bullying.

CAP provides instruction in all areas of the arts, free of charge, to youth in public schools and community organizations at 52 sites throughout Los Angeles County.

May 5, Valencia, CA—Los Angeles teens lend contemporary relevance to a nearly 400 year old play. For its 21st annual production, the acclaimed CalArts Community Arts Partnership (CAP)/Plaza de la Raza Theater program takes on Pedro Calderón de la Barca’s classic work—Life is a Dream (La Vida es Sueño).  Considered the “Hamlet of Spanish drama,” Life is a Dream first appeared in 1635. Now, CAP/Plaza theater students, and guest playwright Sarah Louise Wilson, have adapted this philosophical allegory to a modern high school setting featuring original songs and choreography, and addressing such contemporary issues as youth bullying.

Serious concerns about bullying are receiving national attention. Recently, President Obama commented that, “for a long time bullying was treated as an unavoidable part of growing up, but more and more, we're seeing how harmful it can be for our kids—especially when it follows them from their school to their phone to their computer screen." In the CAP/Plaza de la Raza theater program, the young people who created Life is a Dream used a 17th century play to explore the implications of bullying in their lives.

Click here to learn how youth bullying was discussed at the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention in March 2011.

“This play is timeless and these elements of freedom, acceptance and individuality are still a part of our society today,” noted Ms. Wilson. “I felt this subject matter was relevant to explore with our young people, because it is their voice that shows how far we’ve really come as a human race. If the same problems plague us, then we may need to reexamine how we accept and tolerate our fellow human.”

CAP is a project of California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), an acclaimed Los Angeles-area arts institution offering undergraduate and graduate programs in the visual, media, literary and performing arts. As one of the two original CAP partners, Plaza de La Raza is a vital example of the effectiveness of public/private educational partnerships. The CAP/Plaza de la Raza Theater Program provides high school and middle school students with instruction in all areas of theater arts—and every year, for the last 21 years, a guest playwright has worked with the students to create an original work of theater.

Calendar Editors Please Note:

Life is a Dream (La Vida es Sueño)

CAP/Plaza de la Raza Theater Program Spring Performance
Playwright: Sarah Louise Wilson, Choreographer: Marvin Tunney, Director: BJ Dodge

Plaza de la Raza’s Margo Albert Theater on May 5, 6, 7, 13 at 7:30 pm
and on the 7th at 2 pm
REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater) on May 27 and 28 at 7:30 pm.

Plaza de la Raza, 3540 N. Mission Road, Los Angeles, CA 90031
REDCAT Theater, 631 West 2nd St., Los Angeles, CA, 90012

Reservations are advised.
Call Plaza de la Raza at 323.223.2475
Call REDCAT's box office at 213.237.2800

California Institute of the Arts (CalArts)
CalArts is recognized internationally as a leading laboratory for the visual, performing, media and literary arts. Housing six schools—Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music, and Theater—CalArts educates professional artists in an intensive learning environment founded on art making excellence, creative experimentation, cross-pollination among diverse artistic disciplines, and a broad context of social and cultural understanding. CalArts also operates the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT) in the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex in downtown Los Angeles.

CalArts Community Arts Partnership (CAP)

The CAP program involves youth between the ages of 10 and 18 at 52 sites throughout LA county—employing some 60 CalArts faculty members, and nearly 300 student instructors to deliver free instruction in fine art, photography, printmaking, graphic design, digital media, animation, video, jazz, world music, chamber music, theater, puppetry, dance, and creative writing. Educating more than 7,500 youths each year, the CAP program has received numerous accolades—including the John Anson Ford Human Relations Award from the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations in 2008, the Ovation Award for Community Outreach from the Los Angeles Stage Alliance in 2006, and in 2004, the Coming Up Taller Award—a national recognition of outstanding community arts and humanities programs that celebrate the creativity of America's young people, providing the youth learning opportunities and chances to contribute to their communities.

Last edited by dthatt on May 06, 2011
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