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.
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?
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….
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. www.purplepirate.com.
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.