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A Pirate's Ship Full of Booty(ful Experiences)

January 26, 2009

Ma'ayan Plaut ’10

A final week with the Pirates... a wayfaring seafaring voyage that will take me to the ends of the world...err... New York.

Monday: I had planned a meeting with my mentor, Story Pirates Artistic Director Lee. What happened: Lee was part of the "Story Pirates play a packed Kennedy Center show during pre-inauguration activities" excursion over the weekend, and decided to stick around in D.C. a day or two more. We rescheduled our meeting until after the inauguration festivities late Tuesday afternoon.

Tuesday: I spent most of the morning in my pajamas watching the inauguration while editing photographs. I met with Lee in the afternoon and decided on a plan of action for the next week.

Wednesday: An early start to join Quinton, Jono, and Nicole at the Drama Book Shop before heading to PS 243 in Brooklyn. They, along with a few other Story Pirates, are starting a series of four workshops in two of their fourth grade classes. The prompt for this set of lessons is set forward by Siegfried, the Viking sea captain involved with the Story Pirates. Siegfried had lost his book of legends and myths, and asked the students to fill in his book with new stories of heroes and villians. The kids bought in quickly and started right in with character development.

Thursday: An even earlier start (6am departure!) from the Book Shop, this time, in a 15 person van, in which we packed 8 Story Pirates and an entire set (plus props and costumes) for a show in Long Island. This show included some old classics, as well as five new stories, all contributed by Cherry Avenue School students. The Pirates did two shows back to back, one for the kindergarten, first and second graders and a second for the third, fourth, and fifth graders. Let me tell you, hell hath no fury like a cafetorium full of 250 excited elementary school students. It was deafening. And incredible.

Friday: PS 243, take two. Today's lesson was about resolving the conflicts the students created during Thursday's class, and that there were other solutions rather than violence. Since example is an effective form of instruction, Story Pirate Laura attempted to fight a monster with a plastic sword, but to no avail. The students had to recommend other methods of calming the monster down, like talking to it or complimenting it. Much to the entertainment of the class, Laura arranged for a date with the monster, an amiable solution for the problem at hand.

Saturday: A fabulous Saturday performance at the Barrow Street Theater in Greenwich Village. Today's show debuted four brand new stories, and the New York debut of one of the stories performed at the Kennedy Center. The unofficial theme of today's show was incredibly clever and catchy songs, including The River, a song-story about travellers needing to get across a river to get home, Get That Beat, a rhythmic number about all the sounds one hears on the street, and Mr. Hedgehog Goes to Washington, a wacky story written by a DC kindergarten class about a hedgehog going to visit President Obama and marrying a princess. The collection of them brought down the house. It was an amazing note to end my month's performance photos on.

Sunday: I headed to the nearby JCC to photograph a Story Pirates creativity workshop in a special needs class. Many of the students in today's class were autistic, but that didn't stop them from creating amazing stories about the souvenirs Story Pirate Sam brought back from his trip to India. When he showed off his thin cotton/linen kurta, one of the girls asked what the temperature was in India. Sam said that it was hotter there than it ever is in New York in the summer, and as a result, the girl told a story about bringing all the snow in New York to Sam's friends in India.

Monday: My final photo excursion was today, at a class held at the Bromley Building. Close to a dozen very energetic 6- to 8-year old students were set upon tasks presented by Rollo, the pirate captain, to send their previous created characters on a journey to an amazing place. Each student found a nook to write in as the Story Pirate teachers wandered around reading and suggesting.

At the close of small Story Pirates classes, the students are asked to reinforce their favorite part of the class (basically, mention the parts they want to happen again so that they can be stronger). Today, every student wanted to reinforce the voice Story Pirate Nick used to read Rollo's assignment, except the final girl. She wanted to reinforce "the girl with the camera." I smiled and curtsied.

It was a good way to end my winter term.

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