Powerstories Theatre shares women’s tales, builds confidence
SOUTH TAMPA - The women had stories to tell and wanted to make impressions in their businesses. So about a dozen small-business owners recently gathered at Powerstories Theatre for an informal workshop. The topic: relating to customers through stories. "Everyday stories are universal because they cause them to remember their own situations. You connect with them," Fran Powers, founder of Powerstories Theatre told the participants."Every story has some theme you can use in your business," she said. Powerstories is a 10-year-old theater program for girls and women that aims to help participants grow in self-confidence, leadership skills and communication abilities. Last year it moved into its own theater and studio, a storefront on West Kennedy Boulevard, where open-mike programs, workshops for women and girls are held. Productions eventually will be held in the 1,000-square-foot facility, which will include a 30-seat theater. It took months to clean the building and equip it with folding chairs, a small stage and a couple of desks for the staff to use. "By June, we hope to have set up the lighting, risers and chairs," Powers said. "I love the urban feel; this gives us a visibility in the community," Powers said about the space formerly occupied by a Lighting company. "This building is part of Tampa's history." The theater group previously moved around presenting its programs, which includes the seven-month-long Girlstories Leadership Theatre. Diana Harvill, a member of the organization's board of directors, said: "When young girls get together, its sparks leadership and the ability to speak for oneself and those around them." Guidance counselors recommend girls for the program. Seventy percent of participants are from low-income families and receive free or reduced-cost school lunches. The families are charged $150 for the program but the true cost is about $2,000, said Lisa Ferrer, the development director. Fundraisers, such as one planned for Saturday, April 13, at The Vault, help pay for the programs. Powerstories Theatre relies on business sponsorships and donations. The business owners came for the special workshop through Working Women, a networking organization of mainly small-business owners. By the end of the evening they shared stories of a great family reunion trip, trying to save money by doing something inexpensively – with bad results, and even slipping away from home under a false pretense. Other workshop participants discussed how they might use such stories or lessons learned from them in business settings. Participants laughed with the woman who acknowledged slipping out of her house announced: "To this day, my mother still thinks I was at a girlfriend's house." "It's like we created a bond with the stories -- a soul connection," said Kristin Vogt-Wilson, who attended the event.