While there are quite a few well known performing arts groups and programs in Isla Vista, such as Improvability (a comedy improv troupe) and Laughology (a stand-up comedy group), there is a program known as "Nuestra Voz" which includes both teenagers and children from the community and also UCSB students (who typically have to be enrolled in the 6-week Summer Session A theatre course 187 TB, also known as Teatro II).

This program first started in the year 2004, and was designed as a way to use theatre as a tool in bridging the community together.

How they work together to come up with plays

How this program/course typically works is by using the first week of the summer session as a crash course to teach the UCSB students how to and how not to work with kids. In addition, during that week, the UCSB students are learning certain ice-breakers, games, warm-ups, and tricks of the trade in dealing with and being more comfortable with children. Therefore, before the kids start, the UCSB students have an idea on how to work with them. Although, like with most things, they don’t really know what they’re getting into until they are already there, working with the kids.

Basically, the program has a director, UCSB student mentors, and the children and teens of the community. The director usually guides and teaches the student mentors, who then guide and teach the children and teens in creating their own play.

Last year (2014), there were only three student mentors who had been enrolled in the course, and therefore, there were only three groups in which the kids could be split up into. The first week with the kids, everyone worked together. The student mentors and the children all got to work together so as to build a strong rapport with the entire group. At the end of the first week, the kids were then split up into three groups, which would be the group they would mainly work with for the rest of the program/course.

At this time, the children in each of the three groups would then come up with their own play-a title, characters, story plot, setting, etc- and then eventually come up with their own script. By the end of the program, the children and teenagers of the community, with the guidance of the UCSB mentors and the director, would have come up with their own play, danced to some choreography, and performed their own play for their parents.

This program/course works very uniquely in bridging UCSB and Isla Vista together, and more specifically, giving both UCSB students and the children of the community an opportunity to work together.

For further information on the program, type in “Isla Vista Nuestra Voz” into the Google Search Bar or contact Ellen Anderson, the Director of the Isla Vista Arts.