The Story Pirates are on the lookout for hidden treasure. But they don’t sail the seas searching for gold or jewels. They hunt for stories and ideas from kids. That’s what inspires their theater performances, songs, books, podcast episodes, and more. “We are a bunch of silly and funny adults,” Austin Sanders told TIME for Kids. He is a Story Pirates director and producer. “We think kids’ stories are the best stories in the world.”
The Story Pirates are a group of actors and comedians. They perform musical comedies based on kids’ ideas.
COURTESY STORY PIRATES
Lee Overtree and Benjamin Salka started Story Pirates in 2004. The group began with writing workshops in schools. Then they took kids’ stories and performed them as musical comedies for the students.
Many of the Story Pirates are actors. They have backgrounds in improv. That stands for improvisation. It’s a form of theater in which the plot, characters, and dialogue are made up on the spot. “Improv is a huge tool that we have in our toolbox,” Overtree says. “We have performers that can really think quickly on their feet.”
Kids get on stage at some Story Pirates shows. They take part in improvised performances.
Today, the Story Pirates do much more than live shows. They also create books inspired by kids (see “Kid Creator”). And there is a Story Pirates podcast. It tells stories using original songs and goofy voices. It also presents interviews with kid authors.
With Story Pirates, kids’ ideas take on a life of their own. Sometimes, it’s on the page. Sometimes, it’s on the stage. Overtree has advice for creative kids. “Your weirdest ideas are never too weird,” he says. “If you write what you feel, you can’t go wrong. Write what you want to write.”
Phoebe, 9, came up with an idea for a mystery. The Story Pirates worked with an author to make it into a kids’ book.
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Phoebe Wolinetz, 9, came up with an idea for a story. It was a mystery. The setting: a plant shop in New York City. The bad guy: a man with yellow eyes. Story Pirates gave Phoebe’s idea to an author. Her name is Jacqueline West. She turned the idea into a book. It’s called Digging Up Danger. It is now in bookstores. What does it feel like to see your idea come to life? “It’s very shocking,” Phoebe told TFK. “It’s going to be in my mind forever.”