Over the past few months, local screenwriter Mathew Klickstein and Dare 2 Defy Productions have teamed up to host a creative workshop for children and teens.
The Animal Farm Writing and Performance Workshop, which kicked off in June, gave young participants a chance to craft their own script based loosely upon the book “Animal Farm” by George Orwell. After months of preparation and hard work, the six participants in the workshop are now ready to perform their unique script to audiences on Tuesday, Aug. 10 and Wednesday, Aug. 11 at 7 p.m. at The Brightside Music and Event Venue in Dayton.
The participants were given free rein to interpret the book, which concerns a group of farm animals who rebel against their human farmer to create a more equal society. The final product of their months of hard work is an original musical entitled “Plagiarism Is Fun! The Musical.”
Essentially, the musical follows five different unique characters as they recount their own version of how a student body election went terribly wrong. While crafting the script, the young participants wanted to approach the musical in a more cerebral way. According to Klickstein, the kids have done their very best to “break” the play by adding in commercial breaks and interacting often with the audience.
“Just on their own, they were figuring out all these great plot points and character development twists,” Klickstein said. “It was really cool to watch that happen. At some points, I would actually have to ask, ‘How old are you again?’ because some of the older (participants) would say things that were just so insightful.”
The musical’s title pays tribute to the fact that the participants often drew inspiration from other notable works of fiction such as “The Breakfast Club” and “Election.”
Klickstein worked hard to incorporate the unique personality of each participant into the musical.
“My character’s name is Z,” Olivia, 13, said. “I am like more of the rebel kid. She’s just a fun character to have, like, she’s a mess. I took inspiration from my life. I had also created a character a while back who acted a lot like her that I really loved. So, I just decided to take inspiration from that, too.”
The youngest participant of the workshop is 11-year-old Adrian. In the musical, he plays a young evil genius.
“People may think, because he’s the small and youngest and quiet one, that he is going to be the good guy in the play, but nope,” Adrian said. “He becomes the evil genius and even kills someone in the play with his massive dictionary.”
After seeing the way that the children and teens responded when they were allowed full creative freedom to create their own fictional universe, Klickstein hopes he will be able to recreate this experience in new ways in the future.
“It is clear these kids are missing that at the schools and there aren’t a lot of opportunities for this kind of youth theater where they’re writing their own play that can be as free and creative as they’d like,” he said. “It’s so important to let the community and especially schools like Stivers and such know that such a thing both exists and can exist in the community.”
Tickets are $10 per person and can be purchased by visiting Dare 2 Defy’s website. Each performance of the musical will conclude with a Q&A session with the performers.
HOW TO GO
What: “Plagiarism Is Fun! The Musical”
Where: The Brightside Music and Event Venue, 905 E. 3rd St., Dayton
When: Tuesday, Aug. 10 and Wednesday, Aug. 11 at 7 p.m.
Cost: $10 per person
More info: Website