David Engel brings a swashbuckling adventure for the family to Bayou Theater
David Engel, also known as ‘Pirate Professor Billy Bones,’ will bring his swashbuckling adventure to University of Houston- Clear Lake’s Bayou Theater on Thursday Nov. 9, at 6 p.m. The “Pirate School: Sea Dreams!” experience includes audience participation, adept magic, antic bubble-play, eccentric props and a host of other family-friendly fun.
When Engel was five years old, his parents threw him a pirate themed birthday party, and that’s when he knew what he wanted to be. He participated in festivals and theater throughout his childhood, and after high school, attended Columbia College for Liberal Arts.
“One thing my mom made me do, was learn about the world before I got into acting school. I learned about history, sociology and science,” Engel said. “That all led to me being a well-rounded actor and clown. I could connect to things on a deeper level.”
After completing his college degree, Engel went to Europe and performed street theater. He said that was also a real education, because it gave him a different experience. During his last years of acting school, he got into performing at kids’ birthday parties, and this is how “Pirate School!” became reality.
“While some actors wait tables to make extra money, I decided to be a pirate performer, which started early at kids’ parties,” Engel said. “Kids are a very challenging audience. You know when you’re being successful, or when you’re dropping the ball.”
Engel added that although his target audience for the show are kids ages 4-12, he also makes sure to connect with teenagers and adults.
“In my shows, we certainly have fun. The pirate theme seems to be an evergreen theme with kids and adults in all parts of society. I’ve even noticed it in Texas,” Engel said. “This country is fractured enough. One of the things about ‘Pirate School!’, it’s all about building community, tolerance and understanding in a darkened theater.”
He wants the audience to feel inspired and magical while watching him.
“If I can get people to come to a show and they’ve never been to the theater before, then the whole community becomes open to them and they might want to catch the next performance,” he said.
No worries on scaring the children. Engel won’t make them cry, but instead hopes to curb bullying, impart life lessons and promote good manners and social courage.
“I loved Daffy Duck growing up. This is the type of clowning patrons in the Bayou Theater may expect. I am not a circus or scary clown,” Engel said. “I’m a ‘theatrical clown’ or ‘character clown.’”
Engel said along the way, he learned the importance of his work and its influence on children.
“When people laugh, that’s about as human as they get. When they laugh, they aren’t worried about their business, or problems, but are human at that moment. They leave the theater transformed, displaying more of their best qualities, and that is very impactful,” he said. “I stayed the course and have been performing ever since.”
Engel encourages kids and adults to come dressed in pirate costumes. For more information about UHCL’s Bayou Theater, and to purchase tickets to this event visit uhcl.universitytickets.com/w/event.aspx?id=1399&r=2b5672018bfb4a44999e5e1e638f206c .