The (official) Pirates of Halifax draw a crowd wherever they go. From the tips of their toes to the crown of their head, these scoundrels look like they’ve stepped right out of the 17th century.
The group performs close to 30 gigs annually. Most are public but some are private, corporate and government functions.
We thought it would be fun to have a Q&A session with their spokesperson: Capt. Barbossa.
TCV: One of the things that people marvel at is the authenticity of your outfits, from your boots to your hats. Do you have these items custom-made?
CB: Yes, all are custom made from 17th-century-like materials such as unbleached cottons and linens. They’re more expensive but worth it on hot days. We stay away from man-made materials such as polyester.
To do the Captain Jack Sparrow wardrobe, as screen-accurate as possible, I had to research for two-and-a-half years to find the right stuff that Johnny Depp wears, right down to the same craftsmen who make his boots.
The proper gear is expensive as well. The Sparrow outfit I have has exceeded $4,000 US. Many of the materials were sourced in Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Singapore and the U.S.
Several outfits were made by the same designers who worked on the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Other items were cast from my own wardrobe i.e.: buckles and buttons.
It's all in the details and can run into thousands. Our character, Jack Rackham, has several outfits that were actually worn by the actors in the hit TV series Black Sails. The Captain Teague & Barbossa wardrobes were all hand-stitched and custom-made. Even Teague's buttons and buckles are exact to what Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards wore in Pirates of the Caribbean, At World's End and On Stranger Tides.
We try to create a ‘wow’ factor when the public see us. That’s what sets us apart from other pirate re-enactor groups as well. When you have the right wardrobe, it helps in creating the character and staying in character, which is why we are billed as Canada's Most Authentic Pirate Performers when we appear at festivals and corporate events.
TCV: How do you distress your clothes?
CB: Our distressing is a secret. Sometimes we shoot it with our weapons.
TCV: Why do you blacken beneath your eyes?
CB: We use makeup from the same artist used in Hollywood movies.
TCV: How do you accessorize?
CB: We add antique coins, dubloons, bones, feathers etc. Also beads and coins from the Middle East. We collect things from our many travels.
TCV: How do you all speak “piratese” so well?
CB: Because we live the life. It comes naturally to us the moment we suit up. The current members are seasoned professionals who have collectively over 40 years’ experience entertaining the public.
TCV: How do you audition to be a pirate?
CB: Well, first we have to assess your threshold to pain. Then your ability to multi-task. Eye-hand co-ordination is also important, as well for sword fighting and if you have any fingers, arms, eyes, legs etc. missing. You also have to smell like a pirate and be able to drink your root beer laced with black powder.
TCV: Where have you performed?
CB: We have performed throughout Atlantic Canada as the official Pirates of the 2007,2009, 2012 and 2017 Tall Ship Festivals, regularly at Upper Clements Park since 2011, Cunard Center and Pier 21, the World Trade Centre in Halifax as well. We have also travelled and performed on the West Indian Islands of Antigua, St. Lucia and Barbados.
TCV: Does Dirty Jenny have a real parrot?
CB: No, she doesn't anymore, we ate him. Bloody thing would not shut up, especially at night when trying to sleep. They are quite tasty on the barbecue you know.
The Pirates of Halifax are writing and recording material for a CD, tentatively scheduled for release in 2020. Most of it will be original material: “pirate-type” tunes and sea shanties. Titles will be similar to How She Rolls, Running Rum, Ghosts of Nova Scotia,The Brethren Call, Offshore Wind & Tradewinds to Nova Scotia.
More about the Pirates of Halifax
For more information about the (official) Pirates of Nova Scotia visit their Facebook Page.