The Jobs Report: I’m a Story Pirate
1:30 pm, April 1st | by Colette McIntyre
This is the latest installment in an ongoing series we’re calling The Jobs Report. For recent college graduates (and others just starting out in new careers) the task of finding a job you love — or finding a job at all — can seem insurmountable. We want to offer an antidote to the depressing data and shine a light on jobs outside the typical doctor/laywer/teacher mold, so we’re asking women we know who have found jobs they love to share how they got their gigs and what challenges and rewards them about their careers. Previous installments can be found here.
Madalena Provo works for Story Pirates, a media and education organization that performs sketch comedy musicals based entirely on stories written by elementary schoolers. She lives in Brooklyn.
When and how did you decide you wanted to work in theater?
I have always loved theater, but I didn’t really let myself actually consider working in theater until about a year ago because acting felt somehow selfish (and unrealistic) to me. Then I had a few realizations: 1) Anything can be selfish. (Sort of a Hamlet moment of “nothing is either selfish or unselfish, but a generous spirit makes it so” ….or something.) I mean, I had interned at a few non profits and seen that some nonprofits with the best of mission statements were still full of people working/living selfishly. Essentially, I realized that it’s the joy and generosity you can bring to whatever your job is that will make it useful to others, not the title 2) Acting specifically could and should be a generous/magnanimous/self-giving act. 3) There are many ways to work in theater. Additionally, graduation loomed on a distant horizon, and honestly, I was feeling all those specific-to-senior-year-feelings and one of the things I was saddest about was no longer being able to perform, both plays and improv. I was like, “I don’t have to give up theater — I could pursue this.”
How did you get the job you have now?
I was encouraged to apply to Story Pirates by a current Story Pirate and friend. After sending in my cover letter and (acting) resume, I was asked to audition. Then I got in and began my training with Story Pirates.
What’s something challenging about your job that you didn’t know about before starting it?
This is a challenge which is actually probably my favorite thing about my job: Kids don’t do “pity laughs” like adults do. When performers do something which is “supposed” to be a joke but isn’t funny, adult audience members will laugh mostly out of the sense of obligation/ wish to let everyone know that they recognize that it’s a joke or that they “get it” BUT KIDS DONT DO THAT. They won’t laugh at something that isn’t funny (and certainly not to make you feel better). They will tell you if they didn’t like something. They are the most honest audience members. Which is awesome and means that you can’t rest on any laurels, because those kids are like “what are laurels, we don’t deal in laurels here.” Young audiences are tough audiences, but that is what makes them awesome. Celebrating the words and ideas of young people means we have to do them justice, and they won’t stand (or give a standing ovation) for anything less.
What’s something great about your job that you didn’t know about before starting it?
The challenge is simultaneously the best thing that I could never have fully anticipated; performing for young people is amazing. Another “something great” about my job that I didn’t anticipate before I started: my playgroup of fellow pirates. I love working with talented, generous artists/performers from a diversity of backgrounds; we’re all interesting, hip, fun, kind, and cool people. I’ve loved everyone with whom I have worked. SOMETHING ELSE great about my job is that it means I am constantly reminded how creative and amazing young people are.
Do you know a woman who has a cool job that she loves? Are you that woman? Nominate yourself or someone else to be featured in The Jobs Report at email@example.com.