A ten week, standards-based, public Elementary School program where students write their own original short script, then see it performed by professional actors.

The Script-to-Stage program runs weekly during unstructured school time. A Volunteer Head-Mentor, trained by YSF, runs each class. Each student is given an individual mentor from the entertainment industry to work with them one-on-one and guide and encourage them as they imagine and develop their own short script. At the culmination of sessions, Hollywood actors volunteer to perform the students’ scripts at an in-school assembly, called the “Big Show.”

The program emphasizes learning through game play, dramatic structure, oral storytelling, and writing. Through interactive exercises of discovery, students learn and reinforce the basic concepts of storytelling. Our games and activities are designed to strengthen leadership skills and empower students. From the first moment, we let the students know that they have a voice in what happens. With their mentors, students complete writing exercises that help them discover elements of story, such as plot, character, setting, goals, conflict and lesson.

As sessions progress, the Head Mentor incorporates more games and exercises with the goal of exploring and deepening students’ stories. Students then take their written outlines and turn them into full-fledged scripts with action, dialogue, fade-in’s and blackouts.

Finally, in a culminating performance, their works are then presented in a “Big Show,” performed by professional actors, before the school community. Every student in the program presents a finished script, and all are given the chance to have their voices heard. For kids who normally receive little individualized attention and support, working one-on-one with an adult to create their own story, and seeing actors like Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project), Darren Criss (Glee), Ed Helms (The Office), and Raven Symone (That’s So Raven) bring their words to life as a piece of theater is transformative.

Once the Big Show has been performed in front of the entire 5th grade, our Young Storytellers become classroom leaders. Using their own scripts as models for storytelling and story structure, and with mentor assistance, Script-to-Stage graduates lead their class peers on their own exploration of elements of story, brainstorming, and building their own logline for a story. The program ensures that all students in the grade levels we serve are active audience members, gaining more than just entertainment value from watching a Big Show. Rather, they are using critical analytic skills in parsing stories and evaluating the work of their peers in a constructive setting, while building their own creative work. Plus, our Young Storytellers are getting the chance to perform leadership roles in their own classrooms.