Glee Cast to be at the Young Storytellers Foundation eventTuesday, October 11, 2011
At campuses around the Los Angeles Unified School District, a handful of promising students have been set on the path to getting their WGA cards thanks to the Young Storytellers Foundation.
The non-profit org's mission is to reinforce arts education at a time when L.A. public schools are facing severe budget cuts. Young Storytellers recruits mentors from showbiz to commit to working on a one-on-one basis with students, coaching them as they conceive and write their own short screenplays.
A handful of the stories are eventually turned into a stage show dubbed "The Big Show." This year's edition will be performed by Cory Monteith, Kevin McHale, Jenna Ushkowitz and other cast members from "Glee." It's set for Saturday at Crossroads School in Santa Monica.
Young Storytellers was formed in 1997 by Mikkel Bondesen, a prominent lit manager and producer who heads Fuse Entertainment; "Glee" co-creator Brad Falchuk; and screenwriter Andrew Barrett. The goal was to give underprivileged kids an experience they never had, Barrett says, adding that all three of them "were really bad students."
Young Storytellers volunteers work with mainly fifth grade students at about 30 schools with predominantly low-income students over the course of eight weeks. The process of working on a screenplay not only teaches writing skills but also fosters creativity and boosts self-esteem. The 10 participants at each school are selected by teachers with an eye toward the kids who will get the most out of the program.
"Every kid is a natural storyteller," Barrett says. "They combine elements that are so absurd and abstract that totally work."
This year the foundation is taking "Big Show" to a higher level thanks to the generosity of the "Glee" gang and many other showbiz supporters, Barrett says.
"The entertainment industry loves what we do, especially writers and showrunners," he enthuses. Building on its strong Hollywood backing, Barrett's next goal for Young Storytellers is to expand the program's reach and develop one or more of its screenplays as a TV series.