A Guide to Life on Tour

"I have a feeling we're not in Scotland anymore..."

"I crossed the border at 21. Left home and started my professional acting

career with a theatre company in the central belt of England. It was the best of times and the worst of times. I shared a room for the first time in my life, and she became my best friend. We cried and pulled each other out of many a drama. Although we never toured together, I think that might have been the success of our relationship, you see at one point there was nearly twenty other actors/technicians and company members. Four teams on the road. Let me just say that every female, some more than others had to do heavy lifting and their share of the van driving, "only backwards and in heels," as Ginger Rodgers says. And most definitely where I was concerned never without a pair of shades and a skoosh of perfume! I got the good gigs from the start, sort of special treatment, although, I don't know from whom. It came at a price, as everything soon does.

"Let's start at the very beginning a very good place to start..."

Actually that was one of my lines in the second show I did with the company, you wouldn't believe it if I told you, but it was actually The Nativity, to the backdrop of "The Sound of Music". Told you, you wouldn't believe me. But I corpsed nearly every night on stage and I loved my partner in crime in our team of four, an actor I so respect and admire. Off stage these people were not so pleasant or able to handle life like their on stage egos. My role was strung together with Christmas Hymns and "The Sound of Music" melodies. "While shepherds watched their flocks by night" and "Edelweiss..."

"... Bless my homeland forever."

The Audition

Five of a panel, can you believe it! They have a better time of it on "The Apprentice." I auditioned for a contract for a year. I ended up staying a further six months. I was greeted and welcomed at the door of this self effacing building rather like its chief at the helm, who was nothing like a chief in real life. He, my partner in crime, I was telling you about, on tour. Mr bad jokes.com, if you had to cry to anyone, you'd cry to him, not cos he'd help or heal but he'd stick a plaster over it. That's why I came to call him "Papa." I opened my mouth at the audition and went from Scots to R.P in a second and had the girls in stitches. Had them pretend to be superheroes in the afternoon session, and I guess they saw something. I was only Scottish member of the company. Home to pack! I can't tell you how many times I've packed over the last four years!!

High points

  • Good friends
  • Good humour
  • Good roles (isn't that what we do it for?)
  • I learned my craft and how to cook
  • I was tested but I found me

Low points

  • Gossip
  • Rumours
  • Lies
  • Story telling
  • Sexism
  • Manipulation
  • Flirtation

You never knew what was going to happen next, but sometimes that was part of the fun. Like pushing the van in snow, forcing yourself to go on stage after your friend from back home, mother of a two year old son, has lost her battle with cancer, driving to a host in the middle of the night and them not know you were coming. Oh yes I've done this. A host by the way is someone whom the company has set up for you as a place to stay for the night, which can be both strange and comforting... and then there was our house, back at base camp that would make Doctor Doolittle sick, two cats, two birds, a fish, wild horses in the back garden, spiders the size of my palm in my hair, oh and rats in the kitchen. Fun times! Dib Dib Dib.

Top four questions guaranteed to be asked by the host while on tour ...

  1. How long have you worked for the company?
  2. Where are you travelling to next?
  3. Where is the company based?
  4. (My personal favourite) Would you like a hot water bottle?

Your answer to this last question should always be, yes. Once I stayed with a host on Christmas tour and their heating gave out, I went to bed wearing everything in my suitcase!

Finally, before I leave you, listed below are a few pearls of wisdom gained from my experience:

  1. Travel light. (I'm still learning this one)
  2. Don't stand for any nonsense or get pushed around, of course muck in but unless the role described said pack horse, move on!
  3. Laugh
  4. Laugh more (or you'll cry)
  5. Coffee
  6. And remember, something my roommate taught me, "What stays in the van...stays in the van!"

To those thinking about touring, who haven't yet had the pleasure, ARE YOU NUTS???!!!

Why are you still thinking, this has been the most memorable experience of my life and outside of this company I have performed in the Millennium Dome and met my boyfriend on Panto. So, there was so spiders maybe they weren't as big as I said. I consider this to have been further training, having done an HND in Musical theatre. I could set up my own company from what I learned, and I have some of my most beautiful on stage memories. What are you waiting for?"

"The Show Must Go On."

If you're an actor looking for theatre work you can find jobs on Mandy Actors UK.