Arts & Entertainment

What’s a dingbatter? New Ocracoke Alive show at Deepwater Theater explains all

Desiree Christa Ricker, David Tweedie and Peyton Piquard rehearse the commercial for ‘Jebediah Quigg’s Pneumatic Fig Picker.’ Photo: C. Leinbach

By Connie Leinbach

As Ocracoke is unlike most any other seashore experience, visitors often ask residents odd questions about island life.

Ocracoke Alive is having fun with that this summer in a new show titled “The Dingbatters Guide to Ocracoke” Wednesday nights starting June 7 in the Deepwater Theater on School Road.

The show will be performed in place of the Ocrafolk Opry, which is taking a break this year, said David Tweedie, Ocracoke Alive executive director and one of the players along with Desiree Christa Ricker, Peyton Piquard and Gary Mitchell.  Debbie Leonard is the stage manager.

“It’s a bunch of crazy skits and commercials,” Tweedie said during a recent rehearsal. “All of the subjects presented are laughable for both visitors and residents.”

The three also perform in the Monday night show, “Blackbeard: An (Historical/Hysterical) Account,” which opens June 5 and also is a series of Blackbeard skits punctuated with historical narrative and zany, topical “commercials.”

They had so much fun with the inaugural Blackbeard show last summer that the Dingbatter show follows suit.

A “dingbatter” is an island term for someone who’s “not from around here.”  Islanders descended from the original families—O’Neals, Howards, Garrish, to name just a few—are “O’cockers.” Transplanted locals were once dingbatters, too, and still may be so called. 

Walter Wolfram, linguistics professor at N.C. State University, Raleigh , has explained that the term “dingbatter” came into vogue on the island in the 1970s when the show “All in the Family” was a hit.

Dave Tweedie, Desiree Ricker and Peyton Piquard go to ferry worker training school. Photo: C. Leinbach

The new show takes its cue from some of the most frequently asked questions about the island.

“It plays into what do people want to know,” Ricker said. “They’re all true stories.”

The skits involve scenes such as what to bring to the island and that sometimes you’ll see the same local in several different jobs as in “The Reappearing Worker.”

Then there’s “The Foreign College Student,” “The Foodie” and “The Shell Shop.”.

Locals will find “Ferry Training School” particularly apropos.

There’s also a skit about the “Annual Mosquito Count” and “Hey, I look like a Pirate.”

Tweedie wrote the majority of the show and is priceless in a commercial for “Jebediah Quigg’s Pneumatic Fig Picker.”   One of the other commercials will tout “Nutria milk.”

The Deepwater Theater season continues through September.  Monday night shows will again feature “Blackbeard: An (historical/hysterical) Account,”

Thursday night shows feature the Molasses Creek band.

For tickets, visit ocracokealive.org, or call 252-921-0260.

Deepwater Theater. Photo: P. Vankevich