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It is a long journey to becoming a professional children’s theatre artist. This blog is the transformational tale of how Dustin Anderson became the children’s icon, The Purple Pirate.
Deciding to step away from dance and focus on children was a challenging decision as I have been a kinaesthetic person. I have always known that I would be a performer but I wouldn’t have thought it would have been for young audiences. In the 80s I had the idea that I would be the next Tom Cruise. Life, interests and priorities change. ;0)
Farah and I settled into our lives and I performed for birthday parties with the odd larger venue show. My introduction to magic was of a style that I didn’t connect with and didn’t spend much time working on as a result. The traditional children’s magic style doesn’t appeal to me and subsequently didn’t inspire me to work as hard as I am now. The genre of magic that I really appreciate is what the European world champions were doing. At that time I didn’t have the confidence to pursue that level of mastery.
I was lucky to meet film maker, Adam Voghell, through a mutual friend and in one month we pulled together a cast and crew to film The Purple Pirate Show. It was a fantastic experience. I don’t know how it came together as it did but we pulled it off. Normally these kinds of programs take more time to complete but I was in such a rush that I somehow pulled together all the people needed to make it happen.
While Rowand edited it, Farah and I explored the western tip of Cuba by bicycle. We brought over school supplies collected by a good friend and school teacher Craig McNeil. The bicycles that we travelled with we left there. We created this video of our experience. It is interesting to look at this experience through my eyes now… I am a very different person.
When we returned we prepared for the Banff International Television festival. The Purple Pirate was going to take the festival by storm…and I was going to cycle there. To prove that I was serious about being a positive role model… This blog is a very interesting way for me to look back on the way I have approached life…with my body. This passion has always been great for me but can be alienating as most people don’t know how to relate to, what can be perceived as an extreme personality.
I was nervous about cycling all the way to Banff. I trained for it…when I should have been preparing for presenting the show. I got sick the day before from the nerves but when I got on the road I recovered. When I arrived in Banff my confidence had been boosted from accomplishing the trip. The only issue was that I had no contacts or notoriety so my team had made a plan that I would wear different versions of my Purple Pirate ‘uniform’ everyday to attract attention….and it worked. I got attention but I didn’t know what to do with it. I was way out of my comfort zone. People came up to talk to me but I had nothing really substantial to say. I didn’t understand the medium or the market.
The last day was children’s programming and I made 100 purple balloon swords and put them on the backs of the chairs in the auditorium. When people entered the room it looked like a purple seaweed farm. It worked! The emcee said “the Purple Pirate has struck”, asked where I was and came up to me with the microphone. I said something but didn’t know how to follow up. Les Brown has a saying “I didn’t know what I didn’t know”.. I love that guy.
The Purple Pirate wasn’t a household name at the end of that trip but I learned a lot and am now ready to try again. I am writing a television program myself this time and gathering up a crew. The Purple Pirate will strike again!