Just in case Burbank starts running short on aspiring actors and
scriptwriters, the city is helping to grow its own in recreation
“Our proximity to the studios gets everyone’s creative juices
flowing,” Senior Recreation Leader Alejandra Biolatto said.
Park, Recreation and Community Services Department classes are
added to the roster when residents request them, or teachers write a
proposal that catches the staff’s attention, as was the case for
stand-up comedy and screenwriting classes. A sitcom-writing class has
also been offered, but has yet to attract sufficient enrollment to
Screenwriter and instructor Steve Kurtz finds that Burbank
students are sophisticated. Many know how to structure a screenplay
on the page, while others have already made the rounds trying to meet
agents and producers. Other students are trying their hand at it for
the first time.
“The first five weeks are spent discussing what makes an
interesting story,” Kurtz said. “It’s got to have build ... it should
be surprising and yet feel inevitable.”
Dialogue, scene construction and characters are covered. Guest
lecturers give students the chance to pitch their ideas.
Resident Sheree Bandukwala has written five screenplays, but takes
the class because she enjoys the chance to bounce ideas off of
others, she said. The affordability of the class, at $60 for 10
weeks, is also a plus, she said.
Stand-up instructor and resident Michael Schwartz teaches students
whose ages range from 12 to 60. Most are not pursuing the skill
professionally, but are people whose friends think they are funny and
encouraged them to test the waters. The class ends with students
performing in a showcase at The Ice House in Pasadena.
Taking the class last year helped Mike Perez develop an act that
he has since performed in the Pasadena club’s Main Room, the Ha Ha
Cafe in North Hollywood and the Rumba Room in Universal City.
“The challenge in comedy is to be funny without being dirty,”
Perez said. “Anyone can get up there and make fun of somebody. I want
to be able to invite my grandma to come and see my show.”
Schedules of classes are available at recreation centers, City
Hall and city libraries.