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!