I don't have much time to write this morning because I have to curl my hair and pick out my dress for THE BIG SHOW - the culmination of my fall session volunteering with The Young Storytellers Foundation. Today is a huge day for my mentee and her family who will be there along with the rest of the West Hollywood-based grammar school as the screenplay that she wrote is performed on a stage by real Hollywood actors. 10 other students guided by 10 other mentors will experience the same.
Every Thursday for the past eight weeks we've learned how to write an exciting and engaging story in screenplay format that contains a strong protagonist, strong antagonist and obstacles that get in the way of the ultimate goal. I say "we" and not "she" because I learned just as much in the process. Young Storytellers should run a program called Forgetful Screenwriters. They could use all the same games and teaching tools to remind us that every story should have a clear hero and villain, a stated objective, challenges to add drama and a lesson at the end. I totally stole one of the blank screenplay outline worksheets we filled in, and I've already used it.
My mentee's script is called THE MAGIC CANDY CLOSET, and it is an incredibly imaginative tale that includes a full-on, three-beat musical runner. I have never pulled that off. She is proud of it because, "it's funny and it makes my brother a star," (the hero is her brother). I'm proud of it because on day one I couldn't get more than an "ummm" and "I dunno" out of her but by the final session she was adding in characters ("I think we need a leprechaun!"), polishing dialogue ("I don't think he would say that...") and telling me we needed a bigger finish ("I know! They're all having a party in the middle of the night!").
Today will be an incredibly special day for my mentee, and I am honored to play a part in that experience. It made me a better writer, but more importantly it made me a better human, and all for the low, low price of one hour per week.
and here is their mission:
The Young Storytellers Foundation develops literacy through the art of storytelling. Using group exercises and one-on-one mentoring, we provide underserved children in the public school system an opportunity to write stories and see them brought to life through performance and film production. At the core of our programming are thousands of adult volunteers who donate their time to mentor individual students and perform their works on stage. Our mission is to inspire children to discover the power of their own voice.
At YSF, we believe…
1. That every child has a story worth telling.
2. That arts education is a right, not a privilege, and…
3. That all students deserve equal access to this education, regardless of race, neighborhood, economic status, or any other indicator, and…
4. That we can correct inequalities in public education by providing supplemental, in-school quality arts programming.