Last night I had the unique pleasure of visiting the campus of Cal Arts to see a student production of Lorca’s masterpiece, “The House of Alba”. In these troubled times marked by an aggressive, vulgar, simplistic, violent and shallow popular culture, it seems to me that Cal Arts have managed to nurture a completely different kind of culture. As this student production unveiled, I was witnessing the sophistication of TOTAL theater, a theater that engages the body, mind, emotions, voice, music and dance. A theater that is multilayered, where actors work 100% of the time, when they are in the spot light, and when they are in the shadows, A spectacular set design conquered part of the audience’s space connecting the European Spanish past and the contemporary American urban landscape. The light and sound design were wise, sensitive and nuanced. Although all the creators of this complex production were students, and while I could sense their considerable talents and abilities, it was clear to me, that they must have benefited from sophisticated instruction, as for example the voice work which obviously came out of the expert advise of Mr. Rafael Lopez-Barrantes who teaches there.
As I am an Oscar winning composer (for the musical film West bank Story), a receiver of various NEA and Rockefeller grants, site specific commissions such as from the Getty Museum and others, have extensive experience in scoring for theater, dance, film and TV and being an artist and scholar in resident in schools such as YALE, John Hopkins, UCLA, MIT and more, being at Cal Arts last night, boosted my optimism in the future. Here are the people who are striving for excellence, creativity, nuance and sophistication. How good it is to discover another point of light in America today!