I write this post in a lull of my Winter Term schedule... I thought I had a birthday party to photograph this afternoon, but lo and behold, it is next week. So instead, I will share with you the glory that is a Story Pirates birthday party.
Most parties are held in the basement of the Drama Book Shop, a fabulous theater bookstore in the Theater district that has graciously been sharing their space with the Story Pirates for years. The basement has a small black box theater that can hold about 30 seated folks, and as many young folks as can fit on padded mats on the floor.
Before the parties start, the birthday kid writes a story and gives it to the Story Pirates so they can prepare a fabulous skit for the party. Once at the party, the guests and the birthday kid contribute to a group story that is sent upstairs to the Pirate headquarters that will be added to the standard collection of birthday stories at today's performance.
Once the story is danced (literally, danced... one of the Pirates does a dance as they leave the theater with the story, much to the entertainment of the crowd) out of the room, some theater based party games occur, encouraging the kids to act like animals, dance along with a musical version Simon Says, and to talk for thirty seconds about an impromptu subject. All the kids get into it, following every action and direction the Story Pirates present to them.
With that, the kids are sufficiently excited, the birthday show commences. There are standard warm up sketches, such as This is a Story about Cats Flying and The Day I Got My Head Stuck in a Bar Stool, all interspersed with a puppet narrator. Puppets incite fabulous reactions from the kids, a combination of awe and excitement that culminates in laughter from all ages present.
And then, the group story is performed. The party-goers are riveted, seeing their words transformed into a play in front of their eyes. The skits are performed with wacky costumes, wigs, and glasses, much in the style that children would play dress-up and make up stories.
And the final moment of glory: The birthday kid's story. The stories prior have the kids riveted, but a transformation occurs when this story begins. There's uncontainable excitement and understandable pride. The first party I attended was of a boy named Jack, and in the middle of his story, he turned to me with pure happiness in his eyes and said, "That's my story!" I answered, "I know! I really like it!" and gave him a thumbs up. He grinned hugely, and then tried to cover it. His hands couldn't contain his grin.
The shows end with the classic story of Cakeface... which ends with the entrance of the birthday cake with lit candles and the party winds down from there as the sugar starts hitting the kids.
All the stories in the show have jokes for all ages. The whole show resonates with everyone in the audience, including the parents. The active participation of the audience makes Story Pirates parties ageless and timeless. These parties are the most focused and least raucous kid's parties I've ever attended. Pity I'm only here for a month.