Story Pirates is a theater group. It invites students from around the world to submit original stories. Then it brings the stories to life onstage. It travels the country performing them. Lee Overtree and friends came up with the idea for Story Pirates in college. At Northwestern University, in Illinois, they heard about Griffin’s Tale.
The theater company took stories by elementary school students and turned them into sketches. “I was so inspired by the writing that kids do and the process of turning it into pieces of theater,” Overtree told TIME for Kids.
The Story Pirates troupe also hosts a podcast. It uses kids’ submissions as a basis for songs and sketch comedy. Thousands of kids submit stories each year. “We’re not looking for the ‘best’ stories,” Overtree says. “We’re looking for stories that inspire us as creative artists.”
Story Pirates responds to each submission. If a kid’s story is selected, Overtree interviews its author. Then the group hires voice actors. Sometimes, they work with celebrities. Once, actor David Schwimmer played a parrot in a podcast episode. Overtree says Schwimmer watched videos of parrots on YouTube. He wanted to get the sound right. “I was so impressed,” Overtree says.
Overtree has some advice for kids who want to submit stories to the Story Pirates podcast. “There are no limits to your imagination,” he says. “You could write the silliest, wildest, weirdest, funniest, things that can pop into your mind. Don’t put any limits on yourself.”