Watch out for pirates!

Kit’s Interactive Theatre's Grace the Pirate brought laughs, costumes and a lot of pirate fun to Kutztown Community Library’s Summer Quest program on Aug. 1.

“For Summer Quest, we’re making it all about experiences and Kitty Jones (of Kit’s Interactive Theatre) made a great experience for everyone. She got everyone involved in the show… It was just so much fun,” said Kutztown Community Library Youth Librarian Taylor Kutz. “It was great for parents, too, keeping them on their toes.”

Kutz said everyone was kept moving. Volunteers were asked to wear costumes and pirate hats, as well as given lines to say. There was even a short relay race during the show.

“It was funny for the kids and funny for the adults, too.”

Grace the Pirate brought stories to life.

“At the end of her show, she said to read stories because that’s how you meet those kinds of characters that she brings to her show. She gave us a full story on Black Beard and acted it out right in front of us,” said Kutz.

Volunteers portrayed the various characters. “Our Black Beard was amazing,” said Kutz.

Kay Stauffer from New Tripoli volunteered to portray Black Beard. Stauffer wore a black beard, pirate hat, an eye patch and a red sash around her waist. She completed her character portrayal with a low, gravely pirate voice which elicited laughter from the audience.

“I thought it was fun to participate and I hope it was fun for the people watching,” said Stauffer.

Her favorite part was “dancing and talking like a pirate,” she said in a pirate voice and laughing.

Stauffer brought her granddaughter Samantha Malcom, 5, of Kutztown, to the library program.

“I liked wearing the hat,” said Samantha, who also volunteered.

“I thought everyone did a wonderful job and I want to thank the Kutztown Community Library for doing this. They have so many good children’s programs,” said Stuaffer. “I’m glad (Samantha) got a chance to participate. It was fun.”

“We get to go to all of them,” added Samantha.

“Yes, I bring her to almost every program. It’s really worth it to bring your kids here,” said Stauffer.

Program presenter Kitty Jones of Kit’s Interactive Theatre combines her love of theater and history into unique interactive theater shows. Show themes range from ancient Egypt to Women’s Rights. The Grace the Pirate show is based on the Irish pirate Grace O'Malley, a well-known historical figure in 16th-century Irish history. The show included an Irish dance from that time period, as well as various pirate stories. 

“The shows are educational; it’s interactive, historical, educational theater and to me it’s really important to keep kids reading. That’s when they learn and they go into their imagination. Looking at a computer screen, all of the images are coming at you but in theater, it’s going on in their mind. We’re not really on a pirate ship, we’re not really on the high seas but we’re creating it as though we are,” said Jones. “I try to make it all real and when you’re reading, you’re doing that too. The whole story is taking place in your mind. It’s so important for (children) to expand their minds and grow and reading is going to do it.”

That day’s show fit the Summer Quest reading theme a Universe of Stories and celebrating the 50th anniversary of the walk on the moon. She tied in astronomy through navigating by the stars.

“The entire program has continual audience participation. I try to involve both adults and kids,” said Jones, noting that children usually volunteer in pairs or groups to help them feel more comfortable participating. “The whole point is to get people involved and to create an environment that’s supportive and have them use their imagination. Everyone in the room is involved, even if they’re standing in the back they become part of the show and the whole space becomes my pirate ship or the ocean. The more I believe in it, the more the audience believes in it. As you can see, they get swept up in it and they’re all pirates. It’s really fun to create that space.”

Jones said the experience of the show becomes a community event. Theater, she said, takes place in the mind.

“When you do this type of interaction, we all are sharing the same experience,” said Jones. “I try to create a shared experience so that weeks later you see these different people in the community, you’ll remember the show.”

For example, everyone at the Kutztown Community Library show will remember the grandmother from New Tripoli who played Black Beard.

“It’s a great way for kids to learn … because they are all playing the different characters. It’s a great way for them to remember as opposed to writing it on a black board trying to memorize. It’s a great way to teach history,” said Jones.

Grace the Pirate was also presented at the Bernville Area Community Library in June and will be presented at the Pottstown Public Library on Aug. 14 at 10:30 a.m.

Kit’s Interactive Theatre, based in Stroudsburg, presents various historical, interactive shows locally and across the region and beyond, including into New York and New Jersey. For more information, visit www.KitsInteractiveTheatre.com.

The Friends of the Kutztown Community Library sponsored the Grace the Pirate show on Aug. 1.

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Lisa Mitchell is an editor for Berks-Mont Newspapers, covering news and events in the Northeast Berks County area.

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