Our History

Powerstories Theatre of Tampa Bay

The story begins when Powerstories Theatre was born in June 1998 as Fran Powers crossed the Wyoming border on a cross country bike trip. The idea took root when she returned to Tampa and notified women of an audition opportunity.

She simply asked “Do you have a story to tell?”

Eight local women, ages 30 to 70, with little to no acting background were selected to perform for the general public. An original script “Let the Stories Move You” with original music was written to link all the stories into a cohesive and inspirational theatre piece.

Powerstories Theatre debuted in November 2000 at the Friday Morning Musicale in Tampa, Florida. By August 2001 they performed at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center to sold out audiences.  By 2010, it won a prestigious Arts & Humanities Award, presented by Michelle Obama at the White House. Today, Powerstories Theatre is branching out onto the national stage with the Advice I Would Give My Younger Self series.

From the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center to the hallowed halls of the White House, Powerstories Theatre has a rich history and a proud list of accomplishments garnered over its nearly two decades in existence.

Our Timeline

  • July 1998 – Founder rode a bicycle across the United States, and as she crossed the Wyoming border, she envisioned building a theatre called Powerstories. This would be a theatre focusing on true stories and the empowerment of women and girls worldwide.
  • 1999 – Founded announced a new theatre called Powerstories Theatre was being created. She invited interested women to the first Powerstories Theatre gathering in an old cigar factory in West Tampa. She asked them to share their true stories of success.
  • 2000 – Produced “Let the Stories Move You,” a show of seven women telling true stories. Performed in Tampa at the Friday Morning Musicale.
  • 2001 – Performed “Let the Stories Move You” at Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center to sold-out audiences.
  • 2002 – Powerstories debuted “It’s Possible” Seminars at Marriott Downtown. 300 women attended a full-day seminar featuring Powerstories.
  • 2003 – Powerstories Theatre became a non-profit 501c3 with the mission of staging true stories of women and girls worldwide to open minds and hearts.   First Powerstories Board of Directors was formed. “Seek and Speak Your Story” workshops were offered to the general public. A second production, “Clarity Cometh,” opened in Tampa. The Girlstories Project began helping girls in the inner city tell their stories using theatre and art, concluding with workshop performances.
  • 2004 – The first book was published, titled Power Stories – Everyday Women Creating Extraordinary Lives, AND the women performed for their first national conference, AND work began with Moffitt Cancer Institute to help patients tell their story. November 2004, Powerstories was featured in “Smart Women” series on 67 TV stations nationwide.
  • 2005 – Board approved a Social Entrepreneur Model to train others to become facilitators. Three women trained in 2005.
  • 2006 – Powerstories produced and performed a custom show for Moffitt Cancer Center’s 20th Anniversary. Powerstories enjoyed their 5-year celebration featuring women in the community, Powerstories girls and women, and singer Irene Cara. Sold out!
  • 2007 – “Bernadette’s Bravo” began to perform nationally! Powerstories set strategic goals of performing in seven cities and adding seven new facilitators in 2007. Women performed in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Savannah Ga, and Asheville, NC.
  • June 2008 – Girls performed Lights So Bright at Tampa Bay Performing arts center to a sold-out audience. Women continued performing. The National Financial crisis stopped growth. Powerstories lost significant funding. Regrouping yet staying strong.
  • 2009 –   All programs continued. New funding sources were sought. Girls performed The Hero Within.
  • 2010 – Powerstories won the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award and received the award at the White House in October. Bernadette’s Bravo was selected to go to Washington DC for the DC Fringe Festival. The fourth women’s show SheVolution opened in Clearwater, FL. Girls performed The Mighty ME Mission.
  • 2011 – Continued to perform SheVolution in Tampa. Created our first annual fundraiser, “The Gift of Story Gala” which drew guests from Washington DC. Hired an administrative assistant. Girls performed The Dream We Dare. Won the WEDU Be More Award.
  • 2012 – Moved into a new studio on Kennedy Blvd., which was turned into a 30-seat theatre. Started a second Girlstories Leadership Theatre in SouthShore doubling programs for youth. Hired a Director of Development. Open Mic Nights begin.
  • 2013 – Produced the fifth original women’s show SheVolution – Act II. Powerstories was selected to attend the Women’s Summit at the Omega Institute.
  • 2014 – Hired Artistic Director and Director of Operations. Received funding from the Arts Council of Hillsborough County. Launched the first season of published plays. Received the Lightning Community Hero Award. Rebranded Powerstories Logo.
  • 2015 – Completed 1st Season of Shows to include Never Saw Another Butterfly, Graceland, and The Elvis Monologues, and Stop Kiss. Increased size of Powerstories Theatre from a 30 to 60-seat theatre. Won the Children’s Board Business Competition for the Social Enterprise project The Advice I Would Give My Younger Self Play Series. Started 3rd new Girlstories Leadership Theatre in Sulphur Springs in Hillsborough County.
  • 2016 – Completed 2nd Season of Shows to include Decision Height, Gas and Candles, and Last Lists of My Mad Mother. Officially launched The Advice I Would Give My Younger Self Play Series. Hired two marketing staff. Won the DeBartolo Foundation Spirit of Humanities Award.
  • 2017- Began the 3rd Season of Shows, including SomeBody/Nobody by Jane Martin, Falling by Deanna Jent, and Girlstories Leadership Theatre presents Girls Who Dare: Remarkable Rebels In July
  • 2018 – Completed 3rd Season of Shows to include A Piece of My Heart, Motherhood Out Loud, Calendar Girls, and Raising Twelve on a Nickel and a Prayer. Implemented the first annual SheVolution Festival. Continued with Girlstories Leadership serving three locations. Hosted annual Powerstories fundraising luncheon at our theatre location.
  • 2019 – Completed 4th Season of Shows to include These Shining Lives, Conversations in Bed, and Sonia Flew. Continued with Girlstories Leadership Theatre and The SheVolution Festival. Began a program allowing other theatre companies to rent the theatre.
  • 2020 –Started 5th Season of Shows to include the first musical, Working the Musical. Pandemic closed season. Continued with Girlstories Leadership Theatre online. Developed PositivelyPowerstories.com, a virtual time capsule of life during COVID-19 and beyond. Collected stories, videos, and artwork from the community around the globe.
  • 2021 – The pandemic continued to close the regular season. Invested in high-end, state-of-the-art livestream video equipment and developed The Voices of Truth, Voices of Youth, and Voices of Women Theatre Festivals virtually to connect our audience with new and established playwrights globally. Both Youth and Women Festivals also showcased new plays safely in the theatre. Continued PositivelyPowerstories.com. Continued with Girlstories Leadership Theatre in-theatre. Featured on Great Day Live morning show, TampaBay Morning Blend morning show,  Broadway World, 83 Degrees Magazine, Patch, Positive Impact Magazine and Podcast, Creative Loafing, HotSpots Magazine, News Radio WFLA, Powers on Sports radio, ArtsAxis podcast, and 88.5 Art in Your Ear Podcast.
  • 2022 – Completed 6th Season of Shows returning to the theatre to include Real Women Have Curves, Conspiracy of Silence: The Magdalene Laundries, Steel Magnolias, and Raising Twelve on a Nickel and a Prayer. Hosted live interview on Zoom with Ireland’s youngest survivor of the laundries.  Continued Voices of Truth and Voices of Women Theatre Festivals virtually and in theatre. Continued with Girlstories Leadership Theatre. Continued PositivelyPowerstories. Featured on Brianda Villegas’ segment on News Channel 8, FOX13 “What’s Right With Tampa Bay” news show, in Tampa Bay News and Lifestyles Magazine, Broadway World, Ask Us Beauty Magazine, and Florida Women Magazine.
  • 2023 – Completed 7th Season of Shows themed “Strong Women in Science. Sports. Literature. Faith.” to include In McClintock’s Corn and Girls in The Boat. Hosted live interview on Zoom with Olympic rowing champion Anita DeFranz. Continued Voices of Women Theatre Festival virtually. Hosted inaugural Voices of Women launch celebration at the Tampa Fringe space. Continued Girlstories Leadership Theatre. Featured on Bay News 9, Creative Loafing, Watermark Magazine, ArtsAxis, Art in Your Ear, and Patch.  June 30 was the final day in location on Kennedy Blvd. Developers are turning shopping center space into high-rise apartments. Started Girlstories Leadership Theatre monthly Saturday podcast GirlsTalk – IRL.
  • 2024 – Starting 8th Season of Shows themed “Critical Social Issues Take Center Stage” as Powerstories On the Move to include Alabama Story at Straz’ Shimberg Playhouse with FREEDOM TO READ Celebration in December 2023 celebrating the play and anti-book-censorship, Voices of Women Theatre Festival at USF College of the Arts, Irena’s Vow at Stageworks Theater, and Right Before You Go at New Tampa Performing Arts Center. Continuing Girlstories Leadership Theatre.

Our Awards

2010 – National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award (Watch the video)

2011 —  WEDU Be More Award

2014 – NHL Lightning Community Hero Award

2015 – Children’s Board Business Competition First Place Award. Disney Award

2016 – DeBartolo Foundation Spirit of Humanity Award