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StoryUp! Reaching Deeper Into Philly

The interactive children's theater company will give free shows at city schools this spring.

StoryUp!, Philadelphia’s interactive children’s theater company, is now bringing improv comedy to children in neighborhoods across the city.


The group’s mission is to use comedy and storytelling to help develop the literacy skills of children from preschool age all the way to teenagers. Since 2011, StoryUp! has offered interactive improv and storytelling shows, workshops for kids and their families, and trainings for parents and educators.


The company spreads its love of comedy to the community through birthday parties, school assemblies, and professional development training. The group also partners with community organizations to provide volunteer programs. This year, StoryUP! will bring its show to public schools, family shelters, and community writing programs that serve low-income, at-risk, and immigrant populations in Philly.


“We are excited to be working with a range of community partners this year,” said StoryUp! founder and director Martha Cooney. She’s a Philadelphia native who attended the University of Pennsylvania on a Mayor’s Scholarship and knows firsthand the importance of reaching kids in the city’s neighborhoods. “Our goal is to use comedy and storytelling to help develop literacy skills in kids, and it’s important to us to reach families in Philadelphia who have limited access to these types of theater programs.”


This spring, StoryUp! will perform at Dr. Ethel D. Allen school in Strawberry Mansion, Penn Alexander school in University City, E.M. Stanton public school in South Philadelphia, Community Partnership School in Germantown, Drueding Center family shelter in Kensington, Mighty Writers El Futuro in South Philadelphia, and the Northeast Literacy Festival at Lincoln High School in Northeast Philadelphia.


Free shows open to the public include March 18 at noon, at Mighty Writers El Futuro, 1025 S. 9th St., and May 11 from 5 — 8 pm (four family workshops including mini shows) at the Northeast Literacy Fest, Lincoln High School, 3201 Ryan Ave., in Northeast Philly.


You can also head to the Please Touch Museum on March 25, where the company will perform a free show at 1 and 2 pm. The group will also hold a family workshop from 11 — 11:30 am.


If you’ve never seen an improv show, it works like this: what you see isn’t scripted. Each show is different than the last, so no two will be the same — ever. With StoryUp!, children create and write their own original stories, then they watch as these stories come to life and are performed on the spot by a professional improv troupe. The laughs are big, the experience is fun, and StoryUp! encourages families to use these tools at home to develop creative and literacy skills.


“The StoryUp! team are experts at engaging students (and grown-ups!) in the sillier side of storytelling,” says Madeline Karp, Program Director at Mighty Writers El Futuro. “Every student felt empowered to write creative short stories or perform on stage. StoryUp! is truly a wonderful experience — we can’t wait to have them back again!”


The StoryUp! team is stocked with some of the region’s best performers, comedians, and teaching artists. Performers include Philly’s own Kate Banford, co-founder of Good Good Comedy Theatre; Andrew Stober, co-creator of the city’s Indego bike-share program; and local actor Quinton J. Alexander, known as the face of the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire in 2015.


Other than the free shows StoryUp! performs for the community, the company also performs for money. You can hire them to perform at kid-friendly celebrations of all types (birthday parties, bar/bat mitzvahs, block parties, family reunions, and holiday events). They will gladly make themselves available for school assemblies, camp programs, museums, community centers, fundraisers, and anywhere else that may be in the need for some fun, unique family entertainment.


For information on StoryUp! shows, workshops, trainings for parents and educators, and the company’s original comedy , visit www.storyupphilly.com.


Photorgraph by Emily Diego, courtesy of StoryUp!


Contributing Writer


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