Even More Story Love with the Story Pirates!

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Enter the realm of the Drama Book Shop on 250 W. 40th Street and you’ll find an enchanting little shop with a creaky and magical ambiance, selling everything from actor’s resources, NYC agent directories, and books on the Apollo Theater to TCM and vintage sewing patterns for extravagant hats well before Kate Middleton’s grandparents’ time. The shop is undeniably organized and yet still manages to look like a wistfully cluttered attic with a lifesize love seat, oversized movie poster boards, colorful hand drawings and signs, old relics and small statues within and on top of the shelves—ready to take you on an adventure. The books are, for the most part, new, but the relatively limited quantity of each title gives the impression that each book has been carefully selected, each containing arcane and delicate pages that should be treated by someone more like a curator rather than a mass consumer at the nearest Barnes & Noble.

But on April 11, 2012, at 7:00pm, the store closed, the door locked, the lights dimmed, and the Pirates came out to play. About 20 YPG members from 11 AAP member companies and a handful of agencies met up with the Story Pirates for their fifth collaborative Story Love adventure. The Story Pirates’ mission is to bring children’s creative stories to life by taking what children write in school and transforming those stories into mainstage musical comedy sketches, featuring guest performers including Jon Stewart, Conan O’Brien, Ana Gasteyer, and Cheri Oteri. In the words of The Daily Show host Jon Stewart, “The Story Pirates teach kids a love of creative writing. It helps kids to see that their words and ideas are really important. I believe that what the Story Pirates are doing is helping America, nay, humanity–helping humanity itself. It’s crazy entertaining.”

YPG members had the pleasure of helping the Story Pirates out for the night, doing what we do best—reading. Amongst noises, yells, claps, cheers and other abrupt bouts of expression projected from the lower-level performance space in which the Story Pirates rehearse, on the main floor of the shop, we rearranged the reupholstered leather armchairs and other unique seating pieces that looked like they came from old baseball stadiums or theaters to sit down and write quirky notes, helpful feedback, and most importantly, praise and encouragement on the stories of first through fourth graders, who will later read these notes when their teachers return the stories in class. We read out loud to each other stories of friendship and sharing (and when I say “friendship,” I mean trapping your friend-to-be in a cage until she or he happily agrees to play; likewise, when I say “sharing,” I mean sharing your lipstick with the Dark Lord), Diet Coke, whipping one’s hair back and forth, and a cross-dressing Voldemort. We got a taste of what it is like to be a Story Pirate in the very initial stages of producing a sketch, reading the pieces and reading enthusiastically, sometimes with character, out loud; we even signed our little notes as if we were the Story Pirates.

I highly recommend any YPG member committed to reviving raw imagination, comedy, and creativity in the lives of children attend the next Story Love session, which will take place this summer. In the interim, check out the annual Story Pirates & Friends benefit on Saturday, May 19, at 6:30pm at the New York Times Center in Manhattan. The performance will showcase “comedic plays and musicals inspired by short stories written by children and performed by comedy professionals, including celebrity guests Kristen Schaal, John Oliver, Scott Adsit, and Michael Showalter.” For more information visit www.storypirates.org or call (347) 878-6798.

The Story Pirates

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