Press Releases

Kaleidoscope: New Play Tackles the Effects of Economic Hardship on Teenagers

Youth in CalArts Community Arts Partnership’s theater program at LAUSD’s School of History and Dramatic Arts explore how social and economic factors contribute to the phenomenon of absent parents. 
Kaleidoscope is an example of how “linked learning” techniques provide students with academic and vocational skills through hands-on practice and collaboration.

Valencia, CA - April 11—“My parents don’t love me because they are never home,” said the boy—startling students from the School of History and Dramatic Arts (SoHDA) as they interviewed middle school students about issues affecting young teens. The boy’s revelation led students in the SoHDA/CalArts Community Arts Partnership (CAP) Theater Program to explore economic factors impacting parents. The result is Kaleidoscope, an evocative play that wrestles with economic pressures that compel parents to spend more time at work than with their kids.
SoHDA is an LAUSD high school on the Sonia Sotomayor Learning Academies Campus. CAP is a co-curricular program of California Institute of the Arts (CalArts).
The play will tour five Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) middle schools April 14-29.  Press is invited to cover performances.  See schedule at end of release.
Based on interviews with middle school students, SoHDA student playwrights created Kaleidoscopeto reflect how economic concerns interact with such issues as parental alcoholism, homelessness and bullying. The play offers a suggestion to help teens understand and navigate these and other difficulties: “Sometimes we need to see things from other points of view and hopefully learn to accept and respect being ‘different’ because…everything is not what it seems.”
Kaleidoscope demonstrates the concept of “linked learning,” which combines the acquisition of academic and vocational skills through hands-on practice and collaboration. CAP instructors,Aleshea Harris and Bill Honigstein, along with classroom teacher David Levine and CalArts student instructors, mentored students to create every aspect of Kaleidoscope. CAP/SoHDA students took the lead on creative and production processes—researching and developing the script, acting in the play, designing and constructing the portable set, and coordinating the multi-site tour of LAUSD middle schools.  Students also composed and will perform original music for the production. Through this work-based initiative, 40 students receive a total of 46.5 hours of instruction in playwriting, acting, stage management and technical direction .
Kaleidoscope reflects the LAUSD’s renewed commitment to arts education. The project is funded in part by a grant from the district—and is a response to a study conducted by the district to assess “arts poverty” in its schools. These findings were echoed by an L.A. Times study of arts in L.A. public schools in which only 35 schools, in the country’s second largest school district, received an “A” grade. 
The LAUSD has launched new initiatives to increase arts education in Los Angeles schools. One of these is the Arts Community Partners network in which local non-profit organizations provide arts educators to fill the gap left by the budget short falls. With its distinguished track record of bringing free arts education to the youth of Los Angeles for over 25 years, CAP is an active member of the network. Currently serving 2700 students in the LAUSD, CAP is also positioned to help augment the district’s arts deficit through itsteaching-artist training program—which is training artists to be successful and inspiring teachers.
Dates of Kaleidoscope performances: 
April 14: Thomas Starr King Middle School
April 15: Sotomayor Learning Academies
April 16: Grand Arts Festival, Grand Park in Downtown Los Angeles
April 22: Florence Nightingale Middle School
April 29: Luther Burbank Middle School
To cover, please contact CalArts Media Relations Manager Margaret Crane at 661 222 2787 or
The award-winning CalArts Community Arts Partnership (CAP), a co-curricular program of California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), offers free, after-school and school-based arts programs for youth ages 6-18 in every discipline taught at CalArts. Programs are offered at public schools, community centers and social service agencies, covering a thousand square mile radius across Los Angeles County. With classes led by a teaching corps of accomplished CalArts faculty, alumni and student instructors, CAP participants learn to create original works of art and to experiment with prevailing conventions of artistic expression. CAP’s success has served as a model for other arts education organizations locally and nationally.
Ranked as America’s top college for students in the arts by Newsweek and The Daily Beast,California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) has set the pace for educating professional artists since 1970. Offering rigorous undergraduate and graduate degree programs through six schools—Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music, and Theater—CalArts has championed creative excellence, critical reflection, and the development of new forms and expressions. As successive generations of faculty and alumni have helped shape the landscape of contemporary arts, the Institute first envisioned by Walt Disney encompasses a vibrant, eclectic community with global reach, inviting experimentation, independent inquiry, and active collaboration and exchange among artists, artistic disciplines and cultural traditions.