Press Releases

Teens Create Science Fiction to Explore Dependency on Technology

According to Common Sense the average teenager uses technology for nine hours a day.

CalArts' Community Arts Partnership (CAP) youth theater program at Plaza de la Raza premieres original work of theater: Y.E.L.L. (Your electronic Lifelines Lifeline)

Valencia, CA, April 22— Today's teenagers have grown up immersed in technology.  Drawing on their generational expertise, a group of Los Angeles middle and high school students in the CalArts' Community Arts Partnership (CAP) theater program at Plaza de l Raza have employed science fiction to explore the benefits and hazards of the digital age.

Set in the future mega-nation of Annexus, the play, titled Y.E.L.L. for "Your electronic Lifelines Lifeline," depiects teenagers coping with an authoritarian technocratic regime.  Y.E.L.L. was written by CalArts alumna Sarah Louise Wilson in collaboration with CAP students.  Original music was created by students working with Airborne Toxic Event founding member and alumnus Noah Harmon and will be performed by Noah, the students and the CAP/Plaza stage band.

The production runs from May 6th through 14th at Plaza de la Raza and on May 27 and 28 at REDCAT (Roy and Edna disney/CalArts Theater).  See complete calendar listing below.

Y.E.L.L. is the 26th annual play produced by the CAP Theater Program at Plaza de la Raza.  CAP is a co-curricular program of California Institute of the Arts (CalArts).

In Y.E.L.L., Electronic Lifeline chips are inserted into the bodies of Annexus citizens— instantly transmitting all information necessary for life and social interaction directly to the brain.  One teenager, Leon, is allergic to the chip and removes it.  The play follows Leon as he experiences the ramifications of beign without everyday information— and discovers malign forces at work when he deviates from society's definition of "normal."

Glena Avila, CAP Creative Director commented, "Our theater productions take on the big topical issues— like youth's relationship to technology.  This is not covnentional children's theater; it is a collabroation between young performers and the playwright.  Because the students are full participants in the work they present, the plays produced in the program reflect the real concerns and real voices of young people today."

Student and playright leverage the current fascination with dystopic futures, such as those in the Hunger Games and Divergent series to explore teenagers' relationships to technology.  A nationwide
 by Common Sense found that the average teenager uses technology for a "mind-boggling" nine hours a day, not including the amount of time spent on technology for homework.  "Kids live in this massive 24/7 digital media technology world," said Joyhn Steyer, Chief Executive of Common Sense, "They spend far more time with media technology than any other thing.  this is the dominant intermediary in their lives."

"I thought it would benefit our youth to explore their future and how it would look," said playwright Sara Louise Wilson.  "As we moved through the process of creating Y.E.L.L., a few things became evident: yougth are passionate abuot devices but more passionate about hope; they have a contagious hope in humanity."

CAP/Plaza de la Raza Theater Program provides high school and middle school students with instruction in all ares of theater arts.  for the past 26 years, students have collaborated with highly regarded theater professionals to create an original annual production.  Many CAP students are now arts professionals and give back by returning to teach in teprogram.  Thisyear, CAP teen participants working with CalArts theater student instructors, along with CAP alumni Assistant Director Sayda Trujillo and Choeographer Mayra Ponce.  Harmon taught in CAP's Theater Program while studying at CalArts.  Y.E.L.L. is directed by longtime CAP/Plaza Theater Program director B.J. Dodge.

For more information bout youth and technology explore the Common Sense CensusMedia Use by Tweens and Teens— a 2015 study by common Sense's Program for the Study of Children and Media.

Calendar Edtiros Please Note:

Y.E.L.L. (Your Electronic Lifelines Lifeline)
The annual production of the CalArts Community Arts Partnership (CAP) theater Program/Plaza de la Raza play

Friday, May 27 at 7:30pm
Saturday, May 28 at 7:30pm

All Performances are FREE. 

The performance at Plaza de la Raza on May 7 at 2pm is a fundraiser.  Donations are suggested.

Plaza de la Raza: (323) 223-2475
REDCAT: (213) 237-2800

The award-winning CalArts Community Arts Partnership (CAP) 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.