Purple Pirate puts on a rousing show

Performer hopes to reach children with message that people are friendly and there is enough for everyone in the world to share

Angus Schroff

Arrow Lakes News

“What do pirates do?” he asked, putting a hand to his ear. The crowd shrugged. A couple kids murmured amongst themselves, as if trying to find the right answer on an assignment. “Do pirates do taxes?” The kids shook their heads. “No, I don’t understand those either,” he quipped. This elicited more than a few chuckles. From the beginning, it was clear that Dustin Anderson’s Purple Pirate show was not cut from an ordinary sailcloth.

When people think of pirates, most go back to the same cultural image: dashing rogues of the high seas, doing as they please and generally causing a ruckus. Perhaps some of the more historically-minded will imagine the above, except the pirates are dirt poor, suffering from scurvy, and smell like people do when they’ve gone six months without washing. The Purple Pirate is a different story. Neither nautical nightmare nor odiferous lawbreaker with a Vitamin C deficiency, the Purple Pirate is of a third, helpful kind — the kind with a message.

That message doesn’t include any of the usual yawn-inducing clichés you might expect. Dustin’s performance last Friday at the Nakusp Public Park was full of grins, jokes and audience participation. Though mostly for the benefit of kids and the Nakusp Public Library’s Summer Reading Club, the part stage play, part musical, part magic show mash-up provided plenty of humour for all involved. From classic pop culture to wink-and-nudge gags about what people assume when you’re dressed as a purple pirate in downtown Vancouver, the show was a riot. With a few props, a microphone, a speaker, and a heck of a lot of talent, Dustin managed to succeed where so many others have failed — keeping kids interested and attentive, while sneaking in a meaningful message as well.

So, what is the Purple Pirate’s message? Eat lots of citrus fruits? Don’t steal from people with faster ships? Always colour co-ordinate your outfits? As Dustin said before the show, he hopes to teach kids that people are friendly and that there is plenty of treasure in the world to share — especially if you look for it in others.

A bright, energetic performer, Dustin is quick to smile and even quicker to laugh. Humour is obviously a desired trait when working with children, and he has it in spades. A self-described theatre geek, Dustin clearly brings his all even after hours on the road. His professional dance training and over 30 years of theatre experience weren’t wasted on the venue either; his performance carried all the energy of a big stage play, only with less Hamlet and more ham. Dance training came in handy during the final, triumphant scene, after the Pirate finds his treasure — who knew pirates liked Uptown Funk?

Dustin has been all across the world, even to places as far-off as Shanghai. That makes it all the more impressive that he’d stop in a town as admittedly small and secluded as Nakusp. Our quaint little village was only part of his second Kootenay Library Federation tour, which stretched from Elkford to Midway. Dustin’s support of small-town education is commendable, and his performance drew a record number of new members into the Nakusp Public Library’s Summer Reading Club.

Anything that puts books in the hands of eager kids is a good thing, and if it happens to be fun for the adults as well, that’s a bonus. While he’s not the swashbuckling action hero people might expect, it’s clear this pirate likes to give more than take. May the wind — and a balanced diet — be ever in his favour.

Dustin can be found online at www.purplepirate.com, or by phone at 604-805-4935.