Advice for touring actors
Actors go where the work is. Whether theatrical tours or shooting on location, acting is a job that often takes you away from home. Working away can be tough, and it's worth knowing what to expect.
Working as a touring actor
“I got chased by killer bees in Costa Rica, and got a sea anemone stuck on my toe. I spent a week on lots of antihistamines.”
It may come as a surprise to learn how much actors travel. You can expect most of your work to be away from home.
That could mean living in a different town for a couple of months. Maybe it means a tour where you’re in a new city every week for the season. Even tougher, it can even mean a new town every day. That means a lot of travel, as many as eight hours a day.
Don’t forget how tiring travel is. Remember the feeling of coming back from a holiday and being exhausted by the trip.
If you are lucky to be travelling around somewhere foreign or exotic, make sure get a chance to see the sights. Just remember, you’re there to work as well. It might sound obvious, but the excitement of going away and the preparation needed for a part can easily get in the way of looking after practical considerations.
Make sure you’re well rested. Don’t be afraid to seem anti-social if it means you get the sleep you need! If you’re abroad, check out any health issues like vaccinations before you go. In stage or film, sickness can cause real problems if it keeps you from working.
Augustina Seymour is an actress with a lot of experience of tours abroad. “I got chased by killer bees in Costa Rica, and got a sea anemone stuck on my toe. I spent a week on lots of antihistamines.”
Managing relationships on tour
It can be lonely being away from home. But there’s nothing like a company of actors for building fast relationships. You work together for a short period of time, doing physical and emotional work than can be very intense. People get to know each other fast, and make friends fast.
Sometimes though, you realise there might be one person in the cast who drives you up the wall. You’re going to be with them every day until the end of the tour. As fast and intense as friendships can form in a company, difficulties can appear just as quickly.
5 tips for dealing with a difficult co-worker:
- Don’t stop being yourself to please someone. You’ll feel worse.
- Stay diplomatic and professional. You don’t need to agree with someone, but you do need to work with them.
- Get away from them whenever you can.
- Talk to someone rather than let your wrath get pent up. Just make sure your venting stays private.
- Tours are usually only a few months. Before long, you won’t have to see them again!
Practical tips for a touring career
Be wary of a touring job on low pay. Travel often brings additional expenses.
A touring job is an invigorating challenge. Some love it, some hate it. If you have been offered a touring job, think carefully about what is being offered before you accept:
- Do they pay enough towards the costs of travel and accommodation?
- Do they arrange it, or do you?
- There are Equity guidelines that can help. But if you’re not sure, ask, or get your agent to ask.
Be wary of a touring job on low pay. Travel often brings additional expenses. Being out of pocket in a strange town is tough. It’s even tougher coming home at the end of a hard tour and discovering you’ve earned virtually nothing from it!
The biggest question should always be ‘do I want to travel right now?’ If you don’t really feel that this is the moment for you to spend three months travelling round Belgium in a van, don’t go.
“I turned down one job because the hotel rooms would have been shared." Augustina says. "I decided I would have gone insane if I’d had to share a room with someone and do a show with them every day. I felt like a prima donna doing that! But I decided that was the right thing for me.”