Technology Tips for Circus Artists – 3

The third instalment to the series which aims to make your hours behind your desk that bit easier.

Tip Number Three: Keep Your Inbox Empty

Having a job where you have to travel all the time can make staying on top of the inbox a bit of a hassle. I use a technique taught in the book ‘Upgrade Your Life’ by Gina Trapani. The method is simple.

Create an ‘Archive’ folder and remove the 1000s of old e-mails from your inbox and move them into the ‘Archive’ folder.

Next create two new folders called ‘Hold’ and ‘Follow Up’.

Now as soon as an e-mail comes into your inbox read it. Judge how long it will take to respond to the message.

  • If it will take less than 1 minuet or is really urgent deal with it then and there. Then move it into either your ‘Archive’ or ‘Hold’ folder.
  • If it’s going to take longer than 1 minuet move it into your ‘ Follow Up’ folder.
  • If it’s an important message that you are going to use in the next few days move it to the ‘Hold’ folder.

Do not leave e-mails in your inbox.

Put any follow up e-mails on your todo list, do not let them linger in your ‘Follow Up’ folder unanswered for more than a few hours. Empty your ‘Follow Up’ folder a three or four times a day.

Empty your ‘Hold’ folder once a week.

If you stick to this method you should become quicker at responding, more organised and feel less intimidated by your e-mail.

If you use a smart phone (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry etc.) then you can probably use push notification with your e-mail account. This basically means e-mails arrive on your phone as soon as they have be sent so you can keep up message by message. The only thing to bear in mind about push e-mail is that it can eat up your battery.

If you want to learn how to set up push e-mail on your phone then I suggest googling ‘push email <the brand of your phone> <the name of your email provider>’. For instance ‘push email iphone hotmail’.

If you found this tip helpful or have any suggestions please leave a comment below.

Top 10 tips for touring.

1. Take a technician.

When you first make a show, you obviously want to keep cost to a minimum, so will obviously decide to do the tech yourselves. Don’t. It’s a nightmare. Chances are, if you’re reading this blog, that you’re not going make a text heavy show, where every cue is a line in the script. So if the cue is “when I land a Juan-Qui” or “when I move my hand like this,” you’re gonna end up with wrong cues all over the shop, and a rubbish show.

Get a good lighting & sound designer, get them to put together a tech sheet which you send ahead to all venues, as well as “the book” for your touring tech with all the cues, levels etc. Make sure your touring tech calls ahead a week or so before you arrive to check the venue has everything you need.

Make sure you get on with them. You’re gonna spend a lot of time together, some of it very stressful, and we all mess up sometimes.

2. Take power naps

If your show has a get-in before midday, and you’re tour has a fair few dates (say, over 10), you’re going to end up knackered, especially if you’re doing the driving as well. If you get any chance for a kip during the day, take it.

3. Don’t scrimp on accommodation

It’s far better to spend a few extra quid on a B&B near the venue than to try and get a crap one in the middle of nowhere where 4 people have a share a room. Also, avoid nipping back home to sleep inbetween consecutive days performances. Ie. Home is in Hackney. Don’t do Newbury, Bristol, Newport and Reading over 4 nights, punctuated by epic journeys across the M4 and Euston Rd each night to cut costs. It’s more fun to cut off your arm.
(Lauren’s addition: The cheap crap B&Bs always have the best stories attached, even if it’s traumatic at the time. I’m willing to take a few of these, even if just to tell the grandkids. In Peterborough, we paid £39 to three of us to stay in what was essentially a self-storage unit for people. It was in an industrial park, and there was a code to enter the room, rather than a key. Then you had to step over a little barrier to get in. When the delivery guy came with our take-away, he wished us luck. Giles’ single bed was above our double, which you barely had room to step around. I love it. Afterwards.)

4. Use a tour-booker

Ours takes 12.5%. She checks our contracts, chases up our fees and sells us way better that we’d sell ourselves. Trust us, they’re worth every penny.
(Lauren: Especially if you’re employing a tech or other performers, you’ll want a tour with dates close together in dates as well as geographically, and it’s just a pain if you’re trying to do that, whilst forming new relationships with a load of venues.)

5. Be nice to in-house technicians (and all other venue staff)

It makes the day more pleasant, and often they’ll be the only person who has contact with you from the venue. So if you want to go back…

6. Try to squeeze in salad and healthy food.

It’s easy to live on a diet of shit food. There are lots of motorways, and after your get-out, you’ll be lucky if MacDonalds is still open. You inevitably end up feeling tired and fat. If you see a salad or a pulse, eat it!

7. Be patient

Touring is intense. Personalities can clash and tempers can run high. Hopefully it’s because you all care about what you do. Breath and count to ten.

8. Let people do their jobs

Lighting designers, directors, technicians, marketing managers and programmers usually know their jobs better than you do. If they don’t, then let them find it out for themselves.

9. Include as many post-show talks as possible

You will embed you yourselves in the venue and really give the audience that little bit extra. They’re also fun, and the venue will usually give you and your team a free drink. Just make sure you don’t have a 4 hour drive to go, and a 9am get-in the following day, or your tech will be looking at their watch!

10. Work hard and be modest

Do your job well, perform well and don’t go around acting like you’re better than anyone else. Because you’re not. Touring is very, very hard work. It is also immensely satisfying. Definitely the most satisfying part of our job. Just remember that as you’re driving down the M1 at 1am, eating a soggy MacDonalds, because it’s the only thing that’s open.

10.5- Don’t discount the little venues, or village halls. They’re the best!