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BCs’ boldest buccaneer

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It is a fine adventure as.

Exploring Canada and sharing the treasure of laughter and friendship with young people. Connecting with a young audience is a labour of love. Using all tools available – magic, storytelling, dancing, and most of all kindness.

The old days of sarcasm and put downs are over. Children, and audiences in general deserve more and respond to kindness much better.

The Purple Pirate is all about hunting for treasure. The treasure is always the children.

New Piracy

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As our society evolves I believe that our approach to entertainment needs to evolve with it. Most children love to come on stage and be the centre of attention and then somewhere along the line that fearless attitude is lost because many adults fear looking stupid.  I think this is because for a long time volunteers were made fools of, particularly by magicians. I haven’t personally witnessed this for a long time but I believe it is still around. Sarcasm also falls into this category of tired old tactics. It comes quite naturally to my British roots but there is a bitterness to it that doesn’t serve a grander vision I have of the entire audience being brought together. It has a toxic undertone of ” I am smarter than you” which has never been a route to success.

Performers have a unique platform to have influence on strangers. I aspire to be cleverly encouraging so everyone feels good about not only the show but themselves. It is all too common that a performance is about the performer but I think the best shows are when it is about the group. ie Bill Cosby. When an audience feels safe and included there is an elevation of energy for everyone.

In 1999 the Purple Pirate was born. I thought this was a clever use of alliteration, androgenous colour with a character type that children liked. After 14 years of performing with this fantastic alter ego I realised there is a rich depth of mythology that can be used to promote positive values. The pirate character type was one of stealing, violence and social ineptitude. On the surface this might appeal to young people. In reality children and most people are afraid of loud noises and violence. What really captures their imagination is curiosity, inclusivity and self determination. Hunting for treasure, feeling part of a crew and making their own choices.

The Pirate character type gives a great opportunity for transformation and forgiveness. Everyone has made negative choices at some stage and deserves the space to learn and grow from those mistakes. In particular from the errors of our ancestors. I like the idea of consciously keeping the positive and leaving behind the negative from ourselves and our families/ancestors.

Everyone I know is making different choices than their predecessors. Choices that reflect a growth in consciousness about choices made with interactions with people of other cultures and also what will set their children up for a better life than they had. Environmentally, socially, and economically next generations have a much better view of each other and how their actions affect others.

Stereotypes of other cultures and peoples are breaking apart and this can be supported with our recreational activities.  North Americans have lots to feel good about and our entertainment should reflect the reality of our world. Stories of transformation and redefining what we want as a human family. If we affirm what we know in our hearts is true; that there is more good in the world than bad then we will experience that (this took me a long time to truly understand this for myself). Laughing with each other rather than at each other.

The Purple Pirate has a unique platform to invite people to be a part of his crew and plant seeds of positivity….We have spots open on our crew….would you like to join?



Combining Modern Technology with Pirate Mythology

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I have been very fortunate to have performed in many different venues as a dancer and actor before becoming The Purple Pirate. In grand theatres where light and sound are consciously controlled; the audience can be immersed in the story. The reality of most children’s performance is that most times it is in very hectic environments like  school gymnasiums where children have an association with competition, physical activity and the entire space is lit up for safety.

In my first couple national tours I had the epiphany that most children will never have the opportunity to see a live theatre production. I thought that if I could bring stage lighting and turn off the gym lights I could really capture their attention and take them on a magical journey. Initially I wanted to do this all by bicycle (I know….ridiculous) and looked into the latest DJ lighting. The online search was quite an online adventure as Vancouver retailers don’t stock this style of product.

I was watching a Hollywood film a number of years ago and another seed was planted when the sound was turned off. The film wasn’t interesting anymore. Then after some research I learned that a large part of the budget of a hollywood film was spent on sound. Sound creates an emotional experience for the audience. Next time you are watching a film and tears are welling in your eyes or you are on the edge of your seat…try turning off the sound. The experience will fall flat. This inspired me to invest much time, energy and money into sound that will engage the children as well. Did I mention a lot of time?

I had the vision. I knew what I wanted for an outcome. Now I had to do the work….


This kind of looks like a lighting board….but there is so much more going on here.

What a journey of learning software, learning about colour influences on emotion, sound frequencies, writing a meaningful script for both the audience as well as the curriculum, relearning software, meditating on how to use software effectively, choreographing routines, rewriting, hiring professionals to shape the production, and have I mentioned… learning software.

Most lighting software is written for DJs. Loops of dazzling colour rather than precision to specific moments in time. My initial understanding of my software was that I had to start the sound and the lights independently and sometimes the timing was off….which was frustrating. A lightning sequence would hit and the sound and lights would not be timed as I envisioned. AHHH!!!

This January I was on a 10 silent meditation retreat called Vipassana….This is a whole other rabbit hole that I will discuss another time. I think on the 4th day of meditation I had an epiphany of how to use my lighting software effectively. When I was trying to clear my mind I discovered something that makes my life sooooo much easier. And the effect for the audience is astounding.

Technology has its’ place for me. Gear is more compact and software is much more accessible. This all comes together for a much better audience experience.

Have a look.


Technology and performing for young audiences

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Ahoy there!

Thanks for tuning into the blog of the Purple Pirate (aka Dustin Anderson – Transformational theatre artist).

I just finished performing at the Queensborough Children’s Festival and am feeling great about my choice to spend the amount of time I did on Message in Bottle. It was not an elementary school audience but preschoolers….and they hung in there quite well. Festival Audiences roam by nature but most of my audience stayed to watch this very different style of production and many wanted pictures. It was really affirming. It was really cool that toddlers stayed in the front row for the entire show. I believe is was all the colour changes.

It is an exciting time to be a performer as technology allows us to bring a much higher level of production and professionalism to audiences. Several factors pushed me to this insight, the main one was my experience of performing in Elementary school gymnasiums across the country.  Students have a strong emotional association with the gymnasium already and it would be more spectacular for them use stage lighting and a soundscape similar to what they were used to from Hollywood films.  This is also an audience or generation that might not get the opportunity to go to live theatre.


After much research I bought some equipment, then exchanged it because it wasn’t going to work. More research and then a steep learning curve of learning how to program these lights that were designed for djs. All the frustration was worth it as it has been a really satisfying experience because the students really engage and react to Message in a Bottle and the amount of detail in the production. I personally really enjoy being under the lights again. I missed performing in theatres and having that level of focus from an audience.

The timing of lights and sound make for a really special experience and allow the planting of seeds of forgiveness.

It is worth all the work.



Dance and Children

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I have loved to dance since I was a child and in my experience this is true for most children. Most cultures dance socially at some capacity. Dance reality shows brings highly technical dance to the masses and alienates people because the technical level( and risk with much of the mens choreography) is inconceivable for most people. Soul train was a fantastic program because it had regular people enjoying the latest club music in a really social setting and very accessible.

I have also had the luck and naivete to show up at a large audition with no training and get that gig. I got distracted and then left my blue collar work in a northern British Columbia community to move to Edmonton start serious training the age of 24. I have never regretted a moment of risk, fear and stress to dance.

I have been kinaesthetic since conception and excelled in individual sports. I never understood the choices that people make in the heat of competition in team sports…unless they were true team players…which I have rarely experienced. Dancing satisfied my need to sweat and move. I remember watching documentary on the National Ballet when I was around 11 years old and thinking that dancers were insane to put themselves through all that pain and suffering. I loved to move then and had no idea that I would make that choice. Dance was/is worth every sprain, tear and strain I have encountered.

I grew up listening to soul music as my mother loved Marvin Gaye, Al Green, and almost anything from Motown. When I turned 19 I was training to become an actor and I would go to the nightclub at every opportunity. I would dance all night and could attract a crowd. Getting really sweaty…which ironically is what I do in my Purple Pirate polyester “uniform” now.JumpingPP

Once most dancers retire they have to step away from dance and recover emotionally. I had to as well. I have had the desire to include more dance into my work for a while but the question was how. My training in ballet and contemporary dance isn’t accessible enough for my audiences to connect with let alone participate as it is technical.

I started including disco into my shows and the children response is phenomenal. Adults love the music as well. …some parents can also let down their guard and boogie down as well…which is highly encouraged. This is really fulfilling to have children enjoy the dancing and the moms and dance enjoying themselves as well.

Performing is about the audience experience. Art is an expression of the self. It is real treasure for everyone when the two meet…and dance is the diamond in the middle.



The long Voyage of professional piracy – Part 34 – crazy tan lines

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Thanks for tuning in…!

It is a long journey to becoming a professional children’s theatre artist. This blog is the transformational tale of Dustin Anderson’s journey as children’s icon, The Purple Pirate. It is a non direct route of challenges and distractions overcome by perseverance and self discovery.


Tan lines anyone?


After we got home, dug through our big pile of mail and settled into life in the city I started dreaming of “the next bike”. I wanted to go faster and prove a point that travelling by bicycle is possible. This obsession took up a lot of time. I decided that we would get the bike modified for the next trip.

Cycling from show to show meant that I was limited to what I could bring and therefore I had to be very creative. I sewed a treasure box for treasure hunts as well as my costumes were designed for breathability…not believability. I enjoyed the challenge of figuring out how to figure out certain details and not as interested in whether audiences would question the modern pirate look I was aiming for.

Here is a video from those times…

From about 2005 – 2011 I was cycling between 14000 and 18000 kms per year. To place like Prince George for the Canadian Northern Childrens festival. My favorite trip of the year was to Pemberton. I would ride up June 30th – perform at the Canada Day festival and then cycle home after the show. Another favorite was to my home town of Port Hardy. The island highway is quiet and great air. In my prime I could ride from Port Hardy to Victoria in two days. It was a glorious time for my fitness….I could eat anything at anytime.

At this time the Purple Pirate started moving away from magic and focussing more on connecting with audiences with comedy and an active living message. I could connect with the children and learned how to engage adults to make the shows fun for them as well. There is a real art to inviting adults into a children’s show without sarcasm or negativity which is important to me.

“Packs small, plays big” is an expression used in show business that means a high production with less gear lugging. This is particularly important when travelling by bicycle. I got really creative with fabric and tent poles.

In 2007 we did the 5000 for health again…except we would skip Northern Ontario, start in ThunderBay and end in Edmonton. The week before we went I had a big crash and found myself skidding along the pavement at 40 kph. I had to cover up my hand and arm when I was performing. At that time in my life it was a classic maneuver of mine.


The blackeye is from playing basketball with students and the scrape is after a couple weeks of healing.

The prevailing wind in the prairies is Westerly and we had several days that were drastically shorter than planned because we were wiped out pushing into it all day. I had decided that I would design my own bicycle for the next trip and posted the bike for sale on several websites in Ontario. A couple in France contacted me and by the time we got to Regina they had agreed to buy it. We boxed it and sent it from Edmonton to France.

Have a look at this video of  the tour.



The long Voyage of professional piracy – Part 33 – The pain and glory

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Thanks for tuning in…!

It is a long journey to becoming a professional children’s theatre artist. This blog is the transformational tale of Dustin Anderson’s journey as children’s icon, The Purple Pirate. It is a non direct route of challenges and distractions overcome by perseverance and self discovery.


The look on this guys face captures the confusion of people when they saw us on the bike.

Farah has a higher aptitude at planning than I and left a time buffer to travel Northern Ontario. Even then we had a little over a week to get to Ottawa. It was hot and the black flies were relentless. When we arrived at the Terry Fox memorial we were both emotionally moved. That mans courage and perseverance made a huge impact on both of us.



We had to push so hard that we would leave really late. When it is hot the late afternoon wind can get pretty strong. It is always best to leave really early. We had good average speed on each day but the later we left the more stress of finding a hotel to stay at. There was one evening that the sun was dropping and we pulled into a town that had no rooms for rent. So we had to cycle for another 30 minutes to get to a place that had one last room. It was stressful but we pulled it off.


People told us about the Northern Ontario roads having a lot of truck traffic. We found it quite quiet and the truckers were really professional and courteous with us. They left alot of room. The rolling hill of Northern Ontario were really fun. Sometime we had enough momentum and speed to roll over two more hills….then grind up the next one.


The cycling across Canada weight loss program!

I reviewed our blog entries from the trip and almost everyone mentioned how tired we were. HERE is a video of Farah explaining in detail.  We had a whole bunch of days over 150 kms in a row and several over 200. People were really friendly and of course curious. The pictures below was taken by one of the people that were so intrigued by the machine that he pulled over to talk to us…and let us enjoy a little of the airconditioning in his van. DSCN0234s


Seeing the Ottawa sign was incredible. We knew we were going to make it.



Getting to the Parliament on time for our press meeting was a challenge but arriving in Ottawa was incredible. I was pretty skinny by that time.




Then we had several parades to participate in. Notice in this photo that Farah is pedalling and I am not. It was time for me to take a break and enjoy the ride.



This one was with a group of families that came out to see the Purple Pirate in action. It was glorious.




It was a dream come true to cycle “mostly” across Canada. My memories up until reviewing the blogs and photos were of the glory…but it was hard work to get up every morning with an agenda. Cycle touring is much better when you don’t have a deadline. The way the 5000 for health was done lead to stress and more pain than necessary.

The Canada Dance Festival itself was a great event. I am really grateful to Brian Webb and his crew for the great opportunity.

HERE is a video of photos of the entire trip that showed in bicycle film festivals.

The long Voyage of professional piracy – Part 32 – Almost a divorcycle

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Thanks for tuning in…!

It is a long journey to becoming a professional children’s theatre artist. This blog is the transformational tale of Dustin Anderson journey as children’s icon, The Purple Pirate. It is a non direct route of challenges and distractions overcome by perseverance and self discovery.

The story of the Purple Pirate convincing his faithful first mate Farah to cycle to Ottawa from Vancouver….continues.

Our first night on the road was a late one so we slept in. We left Chilliwack at 11:30 am…way too late to head into the mountains on a loaded tandem with little daylight or warmth. We hadn’t reached our destination and found ourselves in darkness on the windy and steep number three road. To Farahs’ surprise and pleasure I said we should try to hail a truck and get a ride the last 40 kms. It was too dangerous. On the third try the 4 metre long bike fit into a truck. When we arrived I offered to take the man for a ride on the back, tried to do a slow turn with him, hit some gravel and crashed. He was a little shaken but not angry. Ooops.IMG_2628

The most memorable moments of BC was cycling for 4 and a half hours up the Blueberry Paulsen….4.5 hours of climbing…It was grueling. We were going so slow and my ego was acting up. I kept pestering Farah about not pedalling….Until she had enough and said she would get off at the next town if I was to keep behaving that way. Needless to say I was tuned up instantly. At that moment I got a window into my behaviour and decided that I would rather do the trip with her than without. One of the best decisions I have ever made.

HERE is a video of the climb

Every time I meet couples that have just started tandeming together I try to plant a profound seed with the man about how important relaxing is and to enjoy the ride. Some are open, some men understand already and some will have to learn the hard way like me.IMG_2721

We got hailed and rained on twice in BC and that was the total precipitation for the entire trip. Crossing over into Alberta was really exciting. By the time we got to Saskatchewan my metabolism was elevated to such an incredible level I thought I could digest a work boot. We learned alot about diet. Small town diner pancakes are fun for a couple days and then they become undesirable for a long long time. IMG_2857

The prairies sky is something to witness. The endless sea of blue is really captivating. At one point heading south on the number 1 highway we were in an ethereal bubble. I looked at our speedo and we were travelling at 50 kph…effortlessly. A prairie tailwind is a thing of glory.IMG_2923

We met some amazing people in small town Canada. We would roll in and Farah would go in and buy food. I would stay with the bike. When she would come out a crowd of people would be around the bike asking questions (the same ones every time) and laughing at our trials and tribulations. We made some great friends at Bikes and Beyond bike shop in Winnipeg. A great owner and staff. The roads of Manitoba are not as friendly. Massive potholes litter the roadways like the province has been bombed and no shoulder on the highway. IMG_3035

We had precision communication by the time we had decided that because Farah could see what was approaching if she thought we were in danger of being hit she would say “OFF” I would steer us onto the gravel shoulder – no questions asked. A semi-truck got pinched in and couldn’t change lane…Farah said off and I steered us off the road….at 30kph. We crashed…or at least I did and when I looked up from the dirt she was standing.  At the beginning of the trip I told her that if we go down get off the bike…she did…I couldn’t and we had a laugh.IMG_3154

We both kept blogs. I logged kilometers, average, top speed and events. Farah logged feelings. It is a wonderful life!

The long Voyage to professional piracy – Part 31 – Hey Farah…Lets ride there!

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Thanks for tuning in…!

It is a long journey to becoming a professional children’s theatre artist. This blog is the transformational tale of Dustin Anderson journey as children’s icon, The Purple Pirate. It is a non direct route of challenges and distractions overcome by perseverance and self discovery.

I have always been creative which is very useful and fun with most things but isn’t always understood. Farah tried to warn me about riding a recumbent to my shows but I had to do learn the hard way. I thought rolling up like this was something that families would really find imaginative…I was mostly met with confusion. “You rode your bicycle here?” “What is that?”


As my desire to lead by example met with my athletic ambition and collided with my nerdy nature (German roots :0) ) I spent much time researching recumbent bicycles. The aerodynamic efficiency really appealed to me. Tandeming really appealed to me…and then I discovered the Back to Back Recumbent tandem! It was love at first sight.sitting-med

I was invited to perform at the Canada Dance Festival in Ottawa…I believe the first words from my mouth to Farah was “I am performing at the Canada Dance Festival…Let’s ride there!” Farah hesitated a little, looked at a map and said yes. What an amazing woman.


The Purple Pirate incognito…learning to sew on an ooollld school machine.


Cutting, measuring and shaping the rain cover.


Going for a test run. Working out where everything would go.

We called the tour, The 5000 for Health. Cycling 5000 kilometres from Vancouver to Ottawa promoting active living and healthy lifestyles. We spent several months making phone calls, sewing, connecting with sponsors, doing photo shoots and even training a little. I connected with a bike builder and he sponsored the bike to us. He was in England, The bike was in the US and in pieces. It was a character building challenge to get the bike ready to ride.

bananaboatbumper copy

Cindy Heinrichs design.

We scheduled to leave April 1st from Vancouver. I booked shows in the Kootenays and Farah booked healthy eating workshops along the way as well. A friends child, “El” named the bike “The Banana Boat” because it looked like a 4 metre long banana when we were covered up. I have to laugh at some of my ideas…and smile at the awesome support of my wonderful wife.

It seems a little crazy to do something like this until the dots are connected to my chosen career. It is quite normal to think of this from the perspective of a children’s performer…every person who performs for young audiences should have to pay their dues by riding across Canada at the tail end of winter on a Back to Back recumbent tandem.

April 1st came and we had a parade that lead to Jamaican Pizza Jerk and Chef Bounty made a delicious feast for us. Friends came out in the rain to see us off. It was a little unnerving to start a 2 month trip in the rain but we were covered and had confidence that the rest of Canada wouldn’t be so wet.


Chef Bounty and Verona outside Jamaican Pizza Jerk. P. Pirate’s favorite restaurant in Vancouver.

IMG_2580 IMG_2582

This video was taken by our friend Dave as we were heading through Maple Ridge.

I had to make some adjustments and along the way but got to Hope on time. FYI – Wheel covers on the front wheel can lead to instability so I tore them off in Abbotsford.

The journey begins…and the realisation of another dream about to come to fruition…after overcoming obstacles.


wheel and head

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