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A Start of a Winter Term in the Big Gritty

January 6, 2009

Ma'ayan Plaut ’10

This year, for my winter term, I decided that I would take a huge step out of at least one part of my comfort zone. I applied to one internship back in November with a wonderfully named group, the Striking Viking Story Pirates. It was on a whim, really, since I wanted a relatively stress free project this year... but.. they seemed like the perfect combination of whimsical and serious and children and theater for me that I couldn't pass it up.

As luck would have it, I got an internship with the Story Pirates... though not exactly what I expected. The Story Pirates are starting their 5th anniversary year, and they've expanded quite a bit more than they ever expected. The Story Pirates aim to show kids the power of their creativity and words with writing workshops and theater shows based on the kids' writing, both in schools and at their theater in the Broadway district. Everyone in the organization has a job title, but they aren't limited to it. Everyone dabbles in all other parts, but know their areas of expertise as well.

When I was contacted with my acceptance, I told I would be involved with the videography and editing internship that I had applied to, but if I was interested, I could expand into doing photodocumentary of the organization and its productions. Working with actors and kids and theater and creative works for a whole month? I said yes.

So, when everyone started talking about their plans for winter term in that "I'm really trying to avoid my finals work so I'm going to talk to many people I haven't talked to much this semester" time in December, I had a great name to toss into conversation, even if I didn't really know what I'd be doing yet. I was just going to have to wait and see.

The only little sad thing about this winter term is that it is in New York City. I love the city just as much as the next person, but I'm a small doses kind of gal. I get such a sensory overload when I come to New York, with the constant hustle and bustle, a general lack of quiet, and the dirt of millions of people. It saddens me when I can't see the stars at night or trees when I look outside. I've come to New York for winter break almost every year of my life, but a week seems to be my tolerance level. This six week period is going to be quite a challenge in regards to my location.

But in regards to my internship, I'm pretty happy. I met with my mentor today; Lee, the artistic director of Story Pirates, is taking me under wing for the month. We've set up a basic schedule for me to shoot a variety of rehersals, classes, shows, birthday parties, and other events for the next few weeks. I get to run around at about the same pace as I do at Oberlin, but in a much more focused way. Also, there are seven other Obies working with the Story Pirates this month, so it's going to be a creative mecca for all.

This first week, though, there aren't many huge events; things are just starting to pick up again as schools around the city get back into session. I'm spending much of this week involved with "Story Love." Every single student who writes a story for the Story Pirates gets a personal positive and constructive comment (a.k.a. showered with "Story Love") on their work from a member of the organization. Even if the story isn't chosen for a performance, each piece gets the same attention as the next, and the comments encourage the kids to continue writing, now that they know that people are reading and appreciating their work.

Well, that's enough pimping out for my organization right now. If you're in the area, though, and want to see me or the Striking Viking Story Pirates (endorsed! by Jon Stewart!), our shows are Saturdays at 2pm, and if you email me, I can get you a discount on tickets. Hope to see you there!

(Okay, I lie. You guys should also check out the newest Story Pirates video, Tickle Monsters are Robots!!!!! on Youtube. It's currently a featured video. Because we're awesome.)

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