In the world of Story Pirates, it’s not at all unusual to watch a play featuring a talking carrot on Saturn or flying cats.
That’s because the playwrights may seem a bit unconventional: They’re kids.
Story Pirates is an organization that pairs actors and comedians with stories written by young students . The results are fantastical productions that celebrate the power of imagination while also empowering children for a lifetime.
Check out their story:
Story Pirates is based on the notion that literacy and education aren’t rooted simply in ability, but also in self-expression and imagination.
And the results are real.
Founded in a single Harlem elementary school in 2004, Story Pirates has since traveled to schools across the United States to bring kids’ narratives to life on stage.
All images via Story Pirates/ Cricket.
“Over and over again, we’ll be in a classroom and educators will come up to us and is just like, ‘Wow, this kid is often one of our most reluctant novelists, ‘” executive producer Sam Kasru says. “But in the field covered by Story Pirates, where we sort of encourage them to use their imagination and be creative, it frees up some of those reluctant novelists to become really enthusiastic writers.”
This kids-first ethos is even rooted in the name Story Pirates itself.
“With Story Pirates, we wanted a name that sounded awesome to kids, ” CEO Benjamin Salka says. “We wanted it to be kids-centric. We wanted kids to hear the name Story Pirates and feel like stone superstars were coming into their classrooms , not teachers.”
And Story Pirates’ productions feel a lot different from your typical school talent show.
That’s because the organization connects schools with big-city producers, creatives, and improvisors who know how to put one across a professional-level performance.
And when the kids find their own terms brought to life with big, thoughtful productions? That’s when the sorcery happens.
“I’m so thrilled that I’m with them, ” says Amber Castillo, a young writer who participated in the program. “I felt, like, truly positive for myself and my story.”
Beyond encouraging students to write, it helps them understand that the things they create are worthy, exciting, and unique.
“In addition to simply being a festivity, it’s genuinely a validation of them , ” Kasru tells. “The idea that these talented professional performers are, like, taking their work and treating it like it’s an amazing theatrical text that it is possible to induce great art out of.”
Anyone can relate to wishing to be understood and accepted when they’re a kid. Story Pirates taps into that idea, specializing in giving children the validation and trust they deserve while also embracing a love of writing and learning.
“Story Pirates treats kids as creative peers, ” artistic director Lee Overtree says. “And I think everyone secretly recollects a little bit of what its like to be a kid and be in the world as a kid.”