Monday, March 02, 2009

Reasons Why

I’m proud to report that I will have a small article in the upcoming issue of the Equity Newsletter. One of our actresses (Kathy C.) arranged for a couple of us each to write an article from the road, giving some viewpoint about tour, or the show. That said, I’ll expand here on the broad theme that I addressed briefly in that article: My feelings on tour and why I do it; a stage manager’s perspective.

It seems like that’s what the whole blog is about lately, doesn’t it? That’s only because right now I’m on tour, and it’s all-consuming. Any theatre process is, if you can admit it. It really is. Not only are you creating a whole other world over the process of a few weeks and months, but you also have to maintain the world you live in. That takes a lot of creative and emotional power. A lot. So why do it, month after month?

In my little article I mention the joy of audience reaction. I’ve written a lot about that here, too. In only a slightly more mature way, it’s the same kind of satisfying feeling I would get when, as a child, Mom or Dad would put up my drawings on the fridge. It’s saying to the world, “Look what we did! Look what we’ve made. Come into our world. Come hear our story.” And I get to see the audience enjoy what I enjoyed the first time I saw (and still do). There’s an instant rush of success and joy when one thousand people laugh, gasp or weep.

There is that. On tour you get so many audiences, of all incomes, ages, races and whatever else, all human beings coming together to watch another human story – and in it, find a little piece of themselves. That’s what it really comes down to.

There is also the daily satisfaction of the challenge and success of putting up the set and show in a new place. The most powerful force in the creative world is not inspiration, heart, money or anything else: It is a deadline. (Look up an author named Chris Baty if you want to hear more about that). We have a nightly deadline of a 7:30 or 8:00 curtain, the occasional matinee. The show must go on! There’s no walking into a space and saying, “No, it can’t be done today.” It’s never ‘if’, it’s always ‘how.’ That’s invigorating. Part of me understands how newspaper folks must feel, meeting their deadline. It’s your daily supplement of accomplishment. I think we need that as human beings in order to thrive. So not only do we perform challenging creative work, but we get applauded for it – literally – every time.

So there’s that.

There’s also the traveling itself. How many jobs can you find that pay you to travel? Granted, there aren’t many days we get a chance to step out and sight-see, but we get a delicious sampling of the country so later we can say, “Oh yes, I love Georgia in April,” or, “Oh, I love Memphis.” Or at the very least, discover some place you’d want to go back to. Or as I’ve done, you can look forward every year to seeing spring in the northeast and driving from town to town through Appalachia in the early morning hours.

Why else would anyone tour? There’s still a little romance in being a traveling, performing band. Even with all the dangers that still exist with being the Outsider in a small town (we’ve run into that already on this tour), there’s a mystique to pulling into town, throwing up the show and saying We are here… and then moving on. I believe powerfully that if we touch one heart or alter one viewpoint with one performance, our work is done.

As of now we’ve performed for over fifteen thousand people in four different states. With three months and a whole lot of cities to go, I’d say our odds are pretty good. Those aren’t all the reasons, but those are a few. Tour isn’t for everyone, but it clicks with some people. It clicked with me, and maybe that’s the only reason I need. For some people it doesn’t matter the show, the itinerary or the mode of travel; they’ll just never find a good reason to enjoy tour.

For other kinds of people... well, you've already heard it. The reasons go on and on.

Coming up, some newsletters about cities we've performed in, fun audiences, some not-so-fun experiences...stay tuned. I promise I'll be here!


Anonymous said...

I love it when you write about theatre stuff and touring. It's very insightful and so much more than "we went here and did this and said that". Which is not bad since it's usually what my posts end up being, but I really enjoy - well, analysis. As you know.

And I love sharing your quotes with Gary. He says thanks for the birthday wishes, btw! And he started an LJ for his birthday. So proud. :)

Lauren said...

Congrats on being published! ;) Your posts are always so enjoyable to read. Sounds like life on the road is going well. It was good talking with you the other day, we'll have to do it again sometime. :)

LIZZIE said...

So glad you are back at the keyboard again. Love, love, love to read your writings. Nothing like touring huh?