The Bones of Contention

Event Date: 

Wednesday, March 2, 2022 - 7:00pm to Saturday, March 5, 2022 - 7:00pm
Saturday, March 5, 2022 - 1:00pm to Sunday, March 6, 2022 - 1:00pm

Event Date Details: 

MAR 2 - 5, 2022 / 7 pm

MAR 5 - 6, 2022 / 1 pm

Event Location: 

  • Hatlen Theater

Event Price: 


$13 - UCSB Faculty, Staff, Alumni & Students, Seniors, Children

$17 - General Audience


$15 - UCSB Faculty, Staff, Alumni & Students, Seniors, Children

$19 - General Audience

Buy Tickets

For more info on tickets and seating, click here.

  1. About the play
  2. Director's bio
  3. Playwright's/Director's note
  4. Checklist
  5. Program
  6. Media
  7. Gallery
  8. COVID-19 Policy

written and directed by Leo Cabranes-Grant

About the play

In the aftermath of a pandemic, a Californian community tries to stick together, while facing the challenging demands of emotional loss, the economy, and an environmental crisis.

Director's bio

Leo Cabranes-Grant is Professor of Literature and Performance in the Departments of Theater and Dance and Spanish and Portuguese (UCSB). He has a Ph.D. in Spanish Golden Age Drama from Harvard University. His work specializes in the study of intercultural events. He has published books on Lope de Vega and Colonial Mexico. Cabranes-Grant has received several prestigious awards, including the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) Award for Best Article of the Year (2011), the Puerto Rican Institute of Culture Award for Best Play (2006), and the Asunción Award  at the Pregones Theatre in New York (2011). His plays (both in English and Spanish) have been produced in San Juan (Puerto Rico), New York, Boston, and Santa Barbara. He is also the author of four collections of poetry. 

Note from the Playwright and Director

When the COVID pandemic started in 2020, I was reading Frank Norris' novel "The Octopus" (1901), an epic exploration of California at the time when wheat growers and railroad owners were fighting for possession of the state's lands. It's an impressive book, a mural-like description of the social and economic forces that shaped California in the late 19th Century. I have lived in California for more than two decades now, and I always wanted to write my California play, a play presenting my own vision of the California myth. So I decided to create my own California town, Yitipaka, an imaginary space where facts and fantasies collide and overlap. And the time of the play is our immediate future: late summer of 2022. 
What would happen in such an imaginary town after the COVID tragedy? How could we go back to "normal" after such a traumatic experience? Which emotional and financial tensions would emerge when the people of Yitipaka decide to move on, planning their future after so much shared pain and uncertainty? The play is, to a certain extent, octopus-like: we will meet and follow several characters, each of them pursuing their own narratives and expectations, while gradually building a wider and intergenerational picture of Yitipaka. Each character wrestles to find emotional clarity, while navigating the demands of personal healing, economic prosperity, and ecological care. Yitipaka, in a way, mirrors the United States as a whole: ethnically diverse, politically traumatized, socially and ideologically divided, and increasingly unable to sustain a nuanced conversation about our common goals. 
California is both a reality and a dream, and "The Bones of Contention" acknowledges this by creating a world that is slightly uncanny, like the state itself. During his years in California, Bertolt Brecht said that everything he saw here had a price tag attached to it; on the other hand, Thomas Mann compared the state to a famous poem by Goethe, evoking the shimmering glow of lemon-trees and gold-oranges.  California is so amazingly beautiful, and demographically and environmentally inclusive, but also so segregated, and odd, and frequently artificial, like the excessively green lawns we see at a golf club.  Another traffic jam, another earthquake, another brush fire, another sudden flood in the middle of a long drought -- and then what? We have to forget a lot in order to believe that we are living in paradise. 
Yitipaka invites its audiences to inhabit this California state-of-mind, a location where  things are apparently real, but not quite. A play should play with the world, not merely reproduce it. This is, after all, an accurate definition of theater: a place where things happen as part of an illusion -- a game. 
I would like to dedicate this production to my collaborators, the faculty, staff, and student actors of the Department of Theater and Dance. They are amazing. 
And to the memory of my dear friend, Melody Mansfield. I was so lucky to meet you. 

Performance checklist



To download the The Bones of Contention program, please click HERE.

To view the program online, please click on program image page below.


Join the UCSB Department of Theater and Dance in this much needed journey through the aftermath of the pandemic.

- BroadwayWorld Preview Article


photo by Fritz Olenberger

photo by Fritz Olenberger

photo by Fritz Olenberger

COVID-19 Policy

Proof of up-to-date vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result must be presented for entry. "Up-to-date" means an individual has received all recommended COVID-19 vaccines, including any booster dose(s) when eligible. (More information about up-to-date vaccination is available at the CDC WEBSITE.) Vaccine verification documentation will be required upon arrival, along with government-issued photo ID. Negative COVID-19 test results must be from a PCR test performed by a state-approved provider administered no more than 72 hours prior to the performance. (Rapid or Antigen tests are not accepted as a proof for entry.) This vaccine requirement also applies to university students, staff, and volunteers.

Proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 PCR tests can be supplied upon arrival to the venue in several ways:

  • Physical vaccination card or negative COVID-19 PCR test paperwork and a photo ID.  

  • Photo of your vaccination card or negative COVID-19 PCR test through your smartphone and a photo ID. (Guests younger than 18 may use a school photo ID.)

  • Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record:  HTTPS://MYVACCINERECORD.CDPH.CA.GOV/

  • Green UCSB COVID-19 Clearance Survey Badge.

Masks must be worn at all times in our indoor venues. We highly recommend that everyone onsite wears N95, KN95, KF94, or FFP2 masks, as they have been shown to be some of the most effective at protecting against COVID-19 transmission. If these masks are not available, double masking is strongly recommended. Patrons must bring and wear their own face coverings that fully cover both the nose and mouth or use one provided by the department as available. Face shields and/or goggles with a mask are acceptable, but are not acceptable on their own. Masks are required at all times in the lobby, restrooms, and in the venues during performances.

Masks during outdoor performances is highly encouraged.

A note about our venues: All buildings on campus have been evaluated by UCSB Design, Facilities & Safety services in consultation with campus and outside experts, and ventilation meets standards defined by the California Department of Public Health and Cal/OSHA. Our Facilities Management colleagues have sought to maximize building ventilation and filtration levels wherever possible, consistent with best industry practices.

The department will continue to share safety updates by email, social media, and through our website as the 21-22 events continue. If you are feeling under the weather, please stay home and continue regular handwashing and hand sanitizing. Thanks for being a partner with the campus community to make our events accessible and safe.



The department's productions are not targeted to children. | Please contact 805-893-3022 with special needs.
Season schedule subject to change.