Today, I’d like to share about the question, What is Talk Like a Pirate day?” Simply put, it’s a non-official day where people talk like pirates. It’s just fun!
Here is the origin:
Talk Like a Pirate Day is the brainchild (if that’s the right word) of two friends, John Baur and Mark Summers, who thought, ‘wouldn’t it be fun to have one day a year when people shake off their serious side and talk like pirates?’ The idea for the day actually originated on June 5, 1995, during a game of racquetball, when one of the men was injured and yelled “Aaarrr.” However, out of respect to the anniversary of the World War Two Normandy landings, the men postponed their celebration. They later chose September 19 because it was Summers’s ex-wife’s birthday and therefore would be easy to remember. (That is so funny!)
Since September 2002, when syndicated columnist, Pulitzer Prize Winner Dave Barry wrote about the idea, John and Mark have been deluged with letters and e-mails about how “Talk Like a Pirate Day” can be applied in various settings.
An observer of this holiday would greet friends not with “Hello, everyone!” but with “Ahoy, maties!” or “Ahoy, me hearties!”. The holiday, and its observance, springs from a romanticized view of the Golden Age of Piracy.
English actor Robert Newton is the “patron saint” of Talk Like a Pirate Day. He portrayed pirates in several films, most notably Long John Silver in both the 1950 Disney film Treasure Island and the 1954 Australian film Long John Silver, and the title character in the 1952 film Blackbeard the Pirate. Newton was born in Dorset and educated in Cornwall, and it was his native West Country dialect, which he used in his portrayal of Long John Silver and Blackbeard, that some contend is the origin of the standard “pirate accent”. This was parodied in the 1950s and 1960s by British comedian Tony Hancock.
That’s so fun!
What is Talk like a Pirate Day?
You know who loves stuff like this? Our students.
If you know me, you know I teach theater with a twist. I thought, “How can I teach some acting skill, explore a radio theater play and celebrate Talk like a Pirate Day simultaneously?”
Enter: Talk Like a Pirate Day drama lesson!
I loved working on this lesson. I decided to introduce dialects and accents through it.
Plus, how about reading aloud The Frozen Pirate radio theater play? If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m really just a kid at heart.
When I began adapting radio plays for the classroom, I ran upon The Frozen Pirate. I’d never heard of the story, but it’s a good one.
Who is William Clark Russell, the author?
At the age of 13 Russell joined the United Kingdom’s Merchant Navy, serving for eight years. Wow! The hardships of life at sea damaged his health permanently, but provided him with material for a career as a writer. He wrote short stories, press articles, historical essays, biographies and a book of verse, but was known best for his novels, most of which were about life at sea. He maintained a simultaneous career as a journalist, principally as a columnist on nautical subjects for The Daily Telegraph.
Russell campaigned for better conditions for merchant seamen, and his work influenced reforms approved by Parliament to prevent unscrupulous ship-owners from exploiting their crews. His influence in this respect was acknowledged by the future King George V. Among Russell’s contemporary admirers were Herman Melville, Algernon Swinburne and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
The Frozen Pirate is a story of a ship captain and his valet whose ship runs ashore on a desolate, icy island. While scavenging for a place to protect themselves from the storm, they find a pirate ship frozen into the rocks. I’ve adapted it into a radio play.
The ship is full of loot, gold and oh yes, several pirates. The valet makes a fire and guess what? One pirate warms enough to come back to life!
Teaching with a Twist
This is a good example of how I teach theater with a twist–I view trendy topics and figure out how to assimilate them into a drama classroom.
Tableau and movement do great with subjects of Thanksgiving.
Students can study stage properties through viewing video examples on holiday movies. There are scads of them. Also, another good costume design lesson is that of The Nutcracker Ballet.
It’s not that the usual methods are poor. Everyone does monologues, scenes, improvisation, etc. That’s important. However, I have found that if you teach any length of time, you are going to grow bored with the tried and true resources you use. Frankly, every lesson but acting is interesting to reluctant learners. Acting makes you feel vulnerable and they don’t want that. Check out: Ten Ways to Teach Reluctant Students in Your Theater Class
So how about trying something new?
Once, a director suggested to me I deliver a particular line in a play differently each night. I was portraying the part for several weeks and I worried about becoming stale.
There’s an old exercise where we teach students the differences in the meaning to “Close the door. Close the door. Close the door.”
At first, I stayed with something safe such as, “You are welcome.”
Over time, I adapted the exercise with other lines. You know, it worked! Suddenly, the lines became fresh to me all over again as if I had just picked up the script for the first time.
That’s why my resources work too!
Try a different lesson with a different perspective, like this Talk like a Pirate Day lesson.
What are some of your favorite lessons you have created? I’d love to hear from you.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or DeborahBaldwin.net