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Word of South Performance Inspires Local Kids to Write

Lolley Bell
Jackson Evans
Kalesia Davis
The Story Pirates
Posted at 8:30 AM, Apr 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-08 05:06:15-04

TALLAHASSEE, FL (WTXL) – A group of Word of South performers is using their show to get local kids interested in writing. How, you may ask? By performing their own words on stage.

The Story Pirates is a performance group based out of New York and Los Angeles that takes stories written by kids and turns them into 3-6 minute live shows.

Joanna Simmons is the Director of the group’s Word of South performance and the Associate Artistic Director for the New York operation.

“The kinds of stories that I look for are stories that will translate well into a live show,” said Simmons. “So I look for stories where once they are on stage, it could be exciting for an audience of all ages.”

Simmons said they received over 100 stories from kids in the area and that she personally read every single story to get a sense of what kids in the area are writing about and what they might be interested in seeing on stage.

“They were really wonderful, the authors that submitted stories should be very proud of the work they shared with us… Honestly, it was just such fun to read them,” she said.

But according to Simmons, the work her organization does is about more than just putting children’s writing on-stage.

“Self expression is just such an important core value for people of any age,” said Simmons. “Just the idea that you can sit down with your brain and your imagination and express yourself anytime, it so important.”

“Creature Land” by Kalesia Davis, “The Dinosaurs Have Come” by Zaraus Beard III, “If I Were President” by Jackson Evans, and “The Best Horse” by Lolley Bell are the four stories from local kids that will be performed at Word of South this weekend.

WTXL spoke with some of those kids about their Story Pirates experience ahead of the event; you can read about them below.

Kalesia Davis, Tallahassee

Davis is a 3rd grader at Sable Palm Elementary School. She wrote and entered her story “Creature Land” after learning about the contest from her teacher.

“I was just writing something down and it just popped into my head,” said Davis. This was her first story but Davis says she enjoyed it and hopes to keep writing.

Jackson Evans, Tallahassee

Evans is a kindergartner at Christ Classical Academy and submitted the story “If I were President.”

He wrote the story after learning about the presidents and Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I remember when Martin Luther King died, so he was a really good person and I just wanted to write about him ‘cause someday I want to be just like George Washington and Martin Luther King,” said Evans.

Lolley Bell, Quincy

Bell is a 3rd grade home-school student who used her love of horses as inspiration when writing her story, “The Best Horse.”

“I used to love bunnies… and then I just liked horses. At my nanny’s house there is like a picture of me touching their horse, one of their horses, Montana. And now I’m starting to collect flying horses, Pegasus’s,” said Bell.

This experience has left Bell wanting to continue to put her stories on paper, saying one day she may even want to be a professional writer.

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You can see the Story Pirates perform their stories and more on Saturday at the Cascades Park Amphitheater from 2:15 until 4:00 p.m.

And for those who also want to participate in the Story Pirate experience, you still have a chance. In addition to the local stories, the group will have a show called “Creative Stories” where they take suggestions from the audience and perform them in the moment.

Word of South kicks off on Friday and runs through Sunday. You can learn more about the festival and see the full line-up by visiting WordofSouthFestival.com.