A month ago my first tour experience with the National Theatre for Children came to an end. In the time I’ve been back in the Twin Cities there are two questions I’m asked rather frequently:
How was the tour? How does it feel to be home?
To be succinct: “Good.” “Weird.”
As part of NTC’s tour wrap-up process the actors are asked to complete a survey. For 30 days I’ve been reflecting on the tour and how to thoughtfully answer their survey. Now that I’ve submitted the survey I feel okay blogging about the tour in more detail than merely “It was good.” Below is part one: thoughts I’ve been thinking about the tour, how it felt to do the work, and how the tour affected me.
PART ONE: HOW WAS THE TOUR?
The tour could’ve seriously sucked if it weren’t for awesome tour partner John Potter. He’s kind, talented, fun, adventurous, and a weight-loss champion! John definitely helped make the tour a blast from beginning to end! John even taught me a phrase which I will now use to summarize the experience:
The tour had me ‘nipples-hard with excitement’ from start to finish!
John and I are extremely proud that we performed every show! We didn’t have any sick days or bad weather, no trouble crossing state lines, and certainly weren’t going to be hung up with a tour vehicle that needed to be replaced before a 9AM show. We busted ass on the tour! We took care of our voices, bodies, minds and spirits and showed up to perform every day with a passion that burns strong in our hearts.
(There were also two other NTC tour troupes in Tennessee that helped keep the adventure full of excitement. Andy and Rebecca and Joe and Mr. Valvo — if you’re reading this: thank you! From “Pepsi Challenges” to Mexican dinners in dry counties to breakfasting at Golden Girls to long talks about art and acting and singing in Cracker Barrel parking lots… You guys were so much fun to meet on the road and I can’t wait for our tours — either in life or with NTC — to cross paths again!)
Over the course of 131 performances I got to act, play, and be silly for thousands of kids! These students taught me lessons in listening and patience and kindness and acceptance. And in one school I even learned of a step I can eliminate when I use the restroom… Can you find the missing step?
And then there were a handful of kids that are just flat-out courageous inspirations dealing with life the only way they know how: by living. There is one specific instance that continues to warm my heart. After a show on October 5, a group of kindergartners came up and gave me hugs. When the kids were done chatting and hugging they left for class. A teacher approached and informed me that the mother of the girl that had just been hugging me died last week as a result of a freak accident.
There were moments like the above peppered throughout the tour. Bittersweet, unexpected nuggets of humanity offering a solemn reminder that the happy work we were doing through NTC far exceeded the mission to educate and entertain. The experience was poignant yet positive, powerful. Simply, the tour changed my life.
I’m thankful to’ve had the opportunity to tour. I’m thankful to do something I love. I’m thankful for the awesome sense of worth and purpose I received at “work.” I’m thankful “work” means “play.” I’m thankful for the people met and experiences had. I’m thankful for such a wonderful tour partner. I’m thankful to work for such an awesome company. I’m thankful to be able to share these things with you. I’m also thankful I wasn’t arrested, suffer any major illness or get into a (serious) car accident.
In a few weeks I’m going back out on the road with NTC, a new tour partner, and the tour can’t come soon enough!
(Stay tuned for “Part Two: How Does It Feel to be Back?” coming next week some time.)