Hurrah for pirates! They prove that when it comes to wealth redistribution, the private sector can outperform the government. Who wouldn’t want to raise the black flag and sail off to adventure?
My only regret is that I am but a theatrical pirate, part of a crew of salty players assembled to navigate the biannual musical at the Edgeworth Club staged as a fundraiser by the Child Health Association of Sewickley, Pa., a charity that has been devoted to helping children since 1923.
Some may remember that I wrote about the play four years ago when I wore feathers and tights in the role of Bird No. 3. My lines then consisted of saying the single word “yeah” several times.
Still, the critics were unanimous that I had conveyed a new understanding of the natural world despite no obvious acting talent. That led to a bigger part two years ago when I was grumpy wedding tent rental guy who scowled his way through about three or four lines.
Having paid my dues, I am proud to say that I am now trusted to speak a whopping eight times, almost a nonstop babbling by my standards. Not to boast, but at this rate of progress, I’ll be playing Hamlet in 100 years.
There is something wild and free about pirates, and not just in their lack of personal hygiene. As the script says, “There’s a pirate that lives inside every man, and there are times when ye must be tapping into that inner pirate.”
Aye, ye must! To heck with worrying about getting that book CD back to the library on time.
It seemed to me that I was a natural to be a pirate because 1) I have an accent easily adapted for pirate-talk purposes, 2) the part calls for being drunk and disorderly and, while I know nothing of that, I am willing to learn, 3) I have long been in the habit of calling non-pirates “matey” in various social situations, 4) I like to say “arrgh” because it helps to clear the bronchial tubes and 5) I am on good terms with parrots.
The producer is Marguerite Park and she also wrote the play, which is titled “A Pirate’s Life for Me.”
The plot concerns pirates who come to the quaint river village of Sewickley, in colonial times in a search of a treasure map (of course!). The sedate and proper townsfolk fear outbreaks of vile and unspeakable behavior, such as pirates talking with their mouths full and using the wrong fork at dinner parties.
Silly dances and romance ensue.
Young Marguerite is petite but has a voice of command that buckles the swash and shivers the timbers of the 35-person cast, including large and lumbering pretend pirates. Her dad is in the cast, too, and while he does a wonderful job as Marly, pirate captain, she complains that he pulls weird faces. I am too busy pulling my own weird faces to confirm the truth of this.
Indeed, we who act before the mast are Marguerite’s greatest despair. Apparently, we have no talent for clumping, thus making for a messy stage with pirates wandering around like Farmer Brown’s cows instead of being in neat, tight little groups.
I am not too fond of clumping myself, as I am not one of those touchy-feely buccaneers. I also have a tendency to sail off to unapproved compass points during the action. During rehearsals, Marguerite sometimes has had to come up on the stage and push me to my proper moorings. I have offered to wear roller skates to make her job easier.
My favorite scene takes place in a tavern where I am entertaining a pretty dancing girl on my lap when another lovely dancing girl pulls me away because I am so darn attractive. This is perhaps the most unlikely event in the play.
We are practicing hard for soon we will be under full sail playing before audiences for a three-night run. I want to do well for my talented fellow cast members and our invaluable support team, including Amy Jackson the choreographer and Nina Mascio, our keyboardist.
Nothing tightens the bonds of friendship more than saying arrgh for many hours together. As Gunpowder Gil, a fellow pirate, has advised me, if in doubt, say arrgh; if still in doubt, clump and say arrgh.
So I shall, for it’s a pirate’s life for me.
Reg Henry is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.