Papillion makes a splash

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 12, 2010

By David Vitrano


GARYVILLE – Supporters of the long held belief that libraries are places of silence and stillness might have felt a little out of place this week as local performer Papillion entertained local children as part of the St. John the Baptist Parish public library system’s Summer Reading Program.

Papillion’s pirate-themed show fit in perfectly with this year’s theme — Make a Splash. I also helped shake attendees out of any summer doldrums they might have found themselves in.

Papillion, decked out in full pirate regalia, got the children at the Garyville branch moving around as they clapped, danced and sang along to his catchy, child-friendly tunes. Interspersed in between songs were tales of sunken treasure and adventures at sea.

Papillion, a New Orleans-based performer who has been entertaining children for over three decades, had an especially poignant message to deliver to the children. In his incarnation as Captain Papillion, a “prodigious purveyor of positive pirating” according to his website, one of the messages he tries to impart is that of “unplundering” the treasures of the earth and sea. As scores of people fight the effects of the British Petroleum oil rig disaster all along the Gulf Coast, the relevancy of his point could not be denied.

Grim Gulf Coast imagery was the farthest thing from the minds of the children in attendance, however, as they begged for more each time a song ended. Clearly, the intense interaction with the singer/storyteller stimulated the minds of the children, who were eager to answer the questions posed to them, a sight that may come as a surprise to local classroom teachers. Papillion’s interaction with his audience has certainly been honed over the years and informed by his background in education.

As a special treat at the end of the show, Papillion allowed each child to hold his sword — under close supervision, of course — so they, too, could feel like a pirate if only for a moment.

The library’s Summer Reading Program special events continue next week with a visit from Frank Levy’s Stories in Motion on Wednesday and Thursday. See L’Observateur’s Community Calendar on page 4B for exact times and locations.