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More than 150 short scripts from children in elementary and junior high schools were submitted to the B Street Theatre's annual playwriting contest for kids, but only five plays were selected for this year's 26th annual Fantasy Festival tour, which runs through June 8.
The Fantasy Festival is a spring segment of what is now called B Street Theatre School Tour, according to B Street Theatre School Tour Administrator Alison Whismore.
The festival was created to assist children in developing literary skills, problem-solving techniques and a mode of artistic expression, according to B Street Theatre's website.
The Fantasy Festival reaches more than 60,000 children per year through its 155 assemblies, Whismore said. It specifically targets kids in Kindergarten through eighth grades, in more than 108 schools in northern California.
"The contest allows for a different activity in the classroom where teachers can use our free playwriting curriculum. The teachers who have their students participate in the contest cover mandated curriculum standards and let their students have creative fun in the process," Whismore said.
Requirements for entering the playwriting contest are: The script must not exceed 10 pages, may contain up to eight characters, the authors must be between the ages of 7 and 14, and no more than two children may collaborate on one script.
After the plays are chosen as winners, the scripts are reworked by B Street Theatre's writing staff in order to create more linear stories or ensure professional quality. From there, two directors, who alternate every year in order to produce fresh theatre, collaborate and direct all five plays, said B Street Theatre Artistic Associate
This year's Fantasy Festival plays were directed by both Baker and Directing Intern Sarah Zemach.
"It's much more (entertaining) knowing it came from a child's mind. Kids have brilliant and broad imaginations," Baker said.
The show consists of all five winning scripts by a total of seven children, who either wrote the plays themselves or collaborated with a friend.
Nathaniel Wiede, 10, and Tamsen Dean, 10, of Rocklin Elementary wrote "Gretel and Bob and the Curse of the Sarcophagus," which is a spin on the classic story of Hansel and Gretel.
Based on Tamsen's love and knowledge of New York City, and with the help of a school history book, Gretel and Bob don't find a house made of candy with a witch inside. Instead, they find their way into New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and, moreover, into a haunted sarcophagus.
"How Chad and Jimmy Saved the World" was written by Jessamy Johnson, 12, of Gold Oaks Charter School and displays how video game techniques turn out to be very useful during an invasion from Mars.
Chrissy Ainger, 11, and Dominique Perez, 11, of Sutterville Elementary, created "What Not to Wear: Royal Edition." Spinning off the classic story of the "Emperor's New Clothes," King Carter does in fact get a new makeover, but decides he doesn't like the new look and returns to being himself.
Mia Whitfield, 11, also of Sutterville Elementary, wrote "A Series of Sitters," where parents go away for a week, but when the kids are finally able to get rid of the sitter, another one is sent... and another.
"Mutts in a Rutt" was written by Kimberly Bean, 11, of Taylor Street School. Based on Kimberly's dream to visit Paris, Cupcake the dog joins a dance contest in order to win a trip to Paris.
Winners of the annual playwriting contest for kids received an Oscar statuette, official notification of award, and their name announced before every performance.
The Fantasy Theatre assembly lasts for 45 minutes. Some of the districts that the festival will be performing in are, but not limited to, San Francisco Unified School District, Plumas District, Yuba City, Lodi, Stockton City District, Davis, and every district in Sacramento County.
B Street Theatre is located at 2711 B St. For more information about B Street Theatre or the school tours, visit the website by clicking here.
Editorial Note: A correction was made to this article after it was published. The incorrect information was struck out and the correct information was added.