January 18, 2019
Phoebe Wolinetz, 9, dreamed up an idea for a mystery. The details were vivid . The setting: a rare-plant shop in New York City. The culprit : a man with yellow eyes. Story Pirates gave Phoebe’s idea to an author. She turned it into a novel. Digging Up Danger, by Jacqueline West, hit bookshelves on January 15.
The Story Pirates are on the lookout for hidden treasure. But they don’t sail the seas hunting for gold or jewels. They seek out stories and ideas from kids. That’s what inspires their theater performances, songs, novels, podcast episodes, and more.
“We are silly and funny adults who believe kids’ stories are the best stories in the world,” Austin Sanders told TIME for Kids. He is a Story Pirates director and producer. “Our mission is to blow kids’ minds with their stories so they can see how amazing their ideas are.”
From Page to Stage
Lee Overtree and Benjamin Salka founded Story Pirates in 2004. The group started out with creative-writing workshops in schools. They performed kids’ stories as live musical comedies for the students. Many of the Story Pirates actors have a background in improv, or improvisational theater. That’s a form of theater in which the plot, characters, and dialogue are made up on the spot.
Today, the Story Pirates do much more than live performances. There are novels, like the one Phoebe inspired. There is also the popular Story Pirates podcast. It tells stories with original songs and lots of silly voices.
With Story Pirates, kids’ ideas take on a life of their own. Sometimes, it’s on the stage. Sometimes, it’s on the page. What does it feel like to watch your spark of an idea come to life for others to enjoy? “It’s very shocking,” Phoebe told TFK. “It’s going to be in my mind forever.”