It was through this charming performance by a collection of young adults between 10 and 15 years of age that I learned about the real-life story of Isla Vista’s Teen Center. Nuestra Voz presented Isla Vista: The Video Game last Friday in an endearing effort to raise awareness concerning the recent closure of I.V.’s popular center. Nuestra Voz is a four-year-old multicultural writing and performance program that combines UCSB undergraduates with kids from I.V. who share a common interest: theater.
Just like any good real video game, Isla Vista: The Video Game was divided into different levels. In all four levels of this live performance, young actors defeated menacing villains, overcame supernatural forces, and learned life lessons, all in the service of one overall goal-to protect the Teen Center from being destroyed.
Each UCSB student director was assigned a particular level to design for the play. Dance intermissions choreographed by UCSB student Christina Fulcher signaled that a level had been completed. The distinct tone of each level stemmed from the student director’s creativity, but was especially dependent on the cast’s enthusiasm and energy.
Level 1 was titled “La Cicatriz (The Scar).” Poor Julie (Giselle Medrano) is made fun of for her ugly, scarred face. While Rebecca (Karla Romero) attempts to defend her from Enrique (Eric Contreras) and Lorenzo (Christian Catalan), Julie burns down the Teen Center in revenge. “Sk8tr’s Tragedy” is the following level, where Charlie Hooker (Ricardo Antonio) is hit by Mr. Burns’s (Virginia Goranova in drag) fancy car, but Homeless Bob (Alfredo Salazar) is generous enough to offer his help. Nevertheless, Mr. Burns still desires to destroy the Teen Center, and although his daughter Priscilla (Paulina Silva), Homeless Bob, and Charlie all try to prevent the tragedy, the Teen Center is bulldozed. Level Three, “Croc King’s Rampage,” was the most humorous level. Croc King (Gabriel Ramirez-Ortiz) rips off toilet seats from Gilbert (Lalo Arce) and his friend Carlos (Randy Flores), but in the end Croc King also saves Gilbert’s life. On the ultimate level, “A Legend Returns,” sleazy Bobby Light (Cris Mora) and his adorable Carmen (Jessica Flores) fight Baby Evil (Juan Vasquez) in a last, desperate attempt to save the Teen Center. Thankfully, our narrator (Chuy) wins the game and finds that the I.V. Teen Center is still up and running for him and his friends.