Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Story Pirates

Hey all, and happy new year! There's a lot I would like to say about my blog topic today, but I wanted to start by formally announcing that I am officially now on Twitter. Yes, I am finding myself falling down the dizzying rabbit hole that is social media, and surprisingly, I am finding it to be a ton of fun. I encourage anyone else on Twitter to follow me and to also follow many of the emerging musical theatre writers who tweet regularly (I'm trying to follow as many as I can find... Also, notice how I used "tweet" as a verb? I feel so hip!).

Anyway, when trying to figure out what writer to kick off the new year talking about, I had a ton of people immediately come to mind. There are a lot of exciting things I want to do with this blog and new writers I want to continue to mention/show their work off. When I was doing research on songwriter Eli Bolin, however, I also discovered the Story Pirates, an organization for which he serves as songwriter and musical director. And while I intend to do a full post of Eli Bolin later (and his cool projects with Sam Forman), I feel like Story Pirates more than warrants its own post.

So what is the Story Pirates? Since it was founded in 2003, it's a multimedia organization that encourages kids to write creatively by adapting their short stories into sketches, songs, and stories. From in-school programs where they have writing workshops and performances to their weekly mainstage shows out of Midtown's The Drama Bookshop (250 West 40th St.), they provide a wealth of opportunities for kids to see their words come to life. Watch the following documentary to get a behind-the-scenes look at what exactly they do:

This program is so fantastic for so many reasons, and I couldn't think of a better way for musical talent to be spent than using its magic to transport kids into each other's imaginations. These songs are great, and I think Eli Bolin does an amazing job of really embracing silliness and whimsy without pandering to younger audiences. The music for pieces like "Tickle Monsters Are Robots!!!!!" and "Leo's Favorite Train is the F Train!" conceptualize the stories in a way that really captures the hearts of the kids writing them and makes adapting them look seamless.

But perhaps one of the best parts of talking about Story Pirates is that the book/lyric writers are, for the most part, the kids, and I'm sure anyone who is a writer can feel in his/her gut how this organization is providing a meaningful service . Even as a writer now, I know how hard it is to be able to get my work on a stage with an audience, so to be five or six and get to see your work being performed in front of all your peers, the experience would be an invaluable source of pride and encouragement. Not to mention that there is a lot of talent to be fostered here -- and these kids could very well represent the future of the musical theatre community.

So, I thought it was nice to open the year highlighting an organization that I admire a lot and that provides the kind of hope I think we can all use in the new year. Please check out all of Story Pirates' Youtube videos at their channel here, and go to their website to see how you can get more involved!

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