Free summer theater workshop for kids explores Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’

The Nerve co-artistic directors Christopher Hahn and Jenna Valyn and Dare to Defy Productions co-artistic Directors Mackensie King and Philip Drennen spearhead a virtual collaborative fundraiser "Dare 2 Have Nerve." CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY ANDREW WHITE/INDIGO LIFE)
The Nerve co-artistic directors Christopher Hahn and Jenna Valyn and Dare to Defy Productions co-artistic Directors Mackensie King and Philip Drennen spearhead a virtual collaborative fundraiser "Dare 2 Have Nerve." CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY ANDREW WHITE/INDIGO LIFE)

Dare 2 Defy Productions, a theater company based in Dayton, has teamed up with Mathew Klickstein, a local screenwriter and author, to produce a unique workshop for children.

This summer, Klickstein and the theater company will offer children between the ages of 10 and 16 the opportunity to join a free writing and performance workshop based upon the book “Animal Farm” by George Orwell. Using the book simply as a guidepost, participants will work together to create their own screenplay which they will perform at the end of the summer at The Brightside Music and Event Venue in Dayton.

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Though Dare 2 Defy offers unique theater programs to children each year, they have never offered a program that gave participants a chance to write their own script. This unique component is part of the reason why the company chose to partner with Klickstein and make his dream workshop a reality.

“I just thought that Mathew’s idea really kind of aligned with our mission and what we’re trying to offer the youth in the community, which is creative and performance opportunities at low cost to no cost,” said Philip Drennen, co-artistic director of Dare 2 Defy. “We’re really hoping this is kind of a jumping-off point for this particular project. It’s really unique to us. It’s unique to Dayton, as far as not just performing, but really getting into the creative process and learning how to go about writing your own script, creating characters and kind of melding that theater basis.”

Prior to moving to Dayton, Klickstein spearheaded several creative theater and art workshops for young girls at Orange Mouse Theatricals in Lawrence, Kansas and with the Kids Of Widney High, a music group composed of students with mental disabilities from the special education J. P. Widney High School in Los Angeles.

“For me, it’s really all about allowing the kids themselves to express themselves in an open, safe and comfortable forum where there will be adults to help guide them,” Klickstein said. “We can make sure that we can take their ideas and work with them to develop it so that they can present an hour-long script for an hour-long theater show that will be presented to the public.”

“Animal Farm” concerns a group of farm animals who rebel against their human farmer to create a more equal society. Klickstein chose the novel because he believes children have the ability to find meaning and resonance in its message.

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Dare 2 Defy Productions and local screenwriter and author Mathew Klickstein have collaborated to create the "Animal Farm" Writing and Performance Workshop. The workshop is free and open to children between the ages of 10 and 16.
Dare 2 Defy Productions and local screenwriter and author Mathew Klickstein have collaborated to create the "Animal Farm" Writing and Performance Workshop. The workshop is free and open to children between the ages of 10 and 16. CONTRIBUTED.

Credit: Dare 2 Defy

Credit: Dare 2 Defy

“A lot of people don’t realize this, but George Orwell meant for ‘Animal Farm’ to be accessible enough that younger readers and people who maybe weren’t as educated could understand some of these concepts that he’d been writing about through most of his career,” Klickstein said. “I believe this story could provide worthwhile meaning to children.”

Prior theater experience is not required to register for the “Animal Farm” Writing and Performance Workshop. Organizers believe this workshop will provide a unique opportunity to all children curious about the scriptwriting process.

“I want to do what I can to reignite and really kickstart the theater community here now that people are feeling safer about going back out to live performances,” Klickstein said. “We hope to remind people to come back out and support local organizations like The Brightside.”

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To ensure participants can carry out this production, Klickstein and Dare 2 Defy hope local organizations and businesses will be willing to lend a helping hand.

The “Animal Farm” Writing and Performance Workshop is open to children between the ages of 10 and 16. To participate in the workshop, parents must register their children for the workshop on Dare 2 Defy’s website. Participants will meet at The Hub at The Arcade from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday from June 15 to July 29. Rehearsals will take place during the first week of August and participants will perform their script on August 10 and 11 at 7 p.m. The workshop is free. To abide by COVID-19 guidelines, the program will be open to approximately 10 participants.

More information about the “Animal Farm” Writing and Performance Workshop can be found by visiting Dare 2 Defy’s website.