When comedians and puppets perform stories written by kids, the smiles are contagious.
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 kids for a lifetime.
Check out their story:
This group takes stories written by little kids and turns them into into theater. And the results will make you smile.Posted by Upworthy on Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Story Pirates is based on the belief that literacy and education aren't rooted just 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' stories to life on stage.
All images via Story Pirates/Cricket.
"Over and over again, we'll be in a classroom and teachers will come up to us and be like, 'Wow, this kid is often one of our most reluctant writers,'" executive producer Sam Reiff-Pasarew says. "But in the world of Story Pirates, where we sort of encourage them to use their imagination and be creative, it frees up some of those reluctant writers 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 rock stars 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 on a professional-level performance.
And when the kids see their own words brought to life with big, thoughtful productions? That's when the magic happens.
"I'm so thrilled that I'm with them," says Amber Castillo, a young writer who participated in the program. "I felt, like, really positive for myself and my story."
Beyond encouraging students to write, it helps them understand that the things they produce are worthy, exciting, and unique.
"In addition to just being a celebration, it's really a validation of them," Kasru says. "The idea that these talented professional actors are, like, taking their work and treating it like it's an amazing theatrical text that we can make 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 kids the validation and confidence 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 remembers a little bit of what it’s like to be a kid and be in the world as a kid."
If you wish you had a program like this when you were a kid, check out the Story Pirates' donation page to get them into more schools or get your kid involved by submitting their own story.
Correction 6/26/2017: Sam's last name, Reiff-Pasarew, was incorrectly stated as Kasru.