BEST THINGS FROM LAST NIGHT'S YOUNG STORYTELLERS' THE BIGGEST SHOW
I've had the pleasure of volunteering with this organization for the last 6 years, as a writing mentor, head mentor, actor, teaching artist, and curriculum developer. The primary program helps 5th graders write five-page screenplays, and actors come in to perform the scripts in front of an audience. The Biggest Show selects 5 of those scripts.
- •The five writer-directors were given an incredible group of actors to cast.Jack Black, Keegan-Michael Key, Leslie Mann, Thomas Lennon, Judy Greeg, Max Greenfield, Stephanie Beatriz, Jason Mantzoukas, and Jason and Randy Sklar (who also hosted). I mean, what?
- •A student who started in the elementary school program, moved onto middle school Movie Makers, and has now shot four films with the high school POV opened the show.Dominique is the first student to graduate all 3 programs. She very eloquently told the packed house how important YSF has been for her personal growth and the realization of how important her voice is.
- •The actors had to "audition" by quickly showing any special skills or telling the writer-directors how they're best cast.Max Greenfield showcased his ability to sleep on cue. Judy Greer displayed her gift of speaking silently. But my favorites -
- •"I'm a really good BEST FRIEND. Like, if the really good looking guy wants to confide in someone, that's me." -Thomas LennonWhich was quickly followed by -
- •"I'm really good at working WITH A PARTNER." -Keegan-Michael KeyThen, the writer cast their scripts, and the actors performed - essentially COLD READ the scripts. Brilliance abounded.
- •SMELLYVILLE by Robert N.A kid (Key) falls into an alternate universe, Smellyville, where cleaning is forbidden and everything in his room has become anthropomorphic. Amazing moment when Key realizes he's a bar of soap and Leslie Mann is a spray bottle... he has to squeeze into her so that they can clean Smellyville and get him home.
- •THE CRAYON by Hana M.Next level. A girl (expertly played by Miss Beatriz) has a fear of crayons after she fed them to her baby hamster in hopes of turning him rainbow. And wouldn't you know it, the school's big design competition is crayons-only. Beatriz and Lennon (the Narrator) had what was the moment of the night until Jason Mantzoukas blew the crowd away with his spacework of triple-bagging a box of crayons for the girl. A master class.
- •BECOMING ME by Tamara S.A princess just wants to be a normal girl. She stumbles upon a magical cave and meets Wizard Rick (Jack Black), who also claims he wants more than anything to be a normal girl. More amazing work by Mantzoukas as a bus driver. There really are no small parts.
- •CATS CURE by Acacia H.A pack of cats get parking tickets, decide to eat them, and get stomach aches. One of their friend-cats decides to go home to get the bottle of "cure" she'd seen in the bathroom. Some great cat owner shade from the Sklar brothers: "What's the best thing someone can say about their cat? 'She acts like a dog.'" Also, actors imitating cats at a high level is always funny, no matter how allergic you might be.
- •THE HARD RUN FOR PRESIDENT by Ryan B.Strong, strong finish. A young girl wants to be president... of Pina Colada Town. Not only is she a girl, but she's a young girl. She gets the votes, but the incumbent is a corrupt, sloppy man (Jack Black). So her friends go see the National President (oh my, what a treat it was to have KMK show off his BO impression - https://instagram.com/p/9QHJawwbK3/) who comes to Pina Colada Town to set things straight.
- •"Because I wanted to stop making dreams just dreams and make them a reality.Young Ryan, on why he decided to write THE HARD RUN FOR PRESIDENT.
- •"You have to use your brain as a filter and not use dumbness."Young Ryan once again, on filtering through the deluge of ideas that come to you. And, honestly: words of wisdom for life.
- •For more info on YSF, check out this video - if you're in LA, it's one hour a week for 9 weeks (no industry experience needed, all you do is write down what the student creates). I promise it'll be the thing you look forward to most.
- •Edit: also, vote for the Young Storytellers x @826LA StoryShare project with GOOD. Could be worth $100k to help this program give thousands of students a voice every year: http://bit.ly/LA2050StoryShare