Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy

City offers show biz classes

Laura Sturza

Just in case Burbank starts running short on aspiring actors and

scriptwriters, the city is helping to grow its own in recreation

department classes.


“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.