John Potter

38 Insights I Learned Touring with NTC

NTC OfficesIn September 2011 I left on my first tour with the National Theater for Children. At the time I was writing a blog post about all the things I was learning on the road. For some reason I never got around to publishing it.

Late’s better than never, right?

Special shoutout to rockstar tour partners John Potter and Tony Milder for their support, patience, understanding, trust, and love. Additionally, much love and respect to Rebecca and Andy for the adventures we shared collectively!

Here’s what I learned on the road for future NTC touring actors.


  1. Pace yourself.
  2. http://michaelvenske.tumblr.com/post/10037379996/tour-destinations-88-schools-135-performances


  3. Kids are everywhere, Behave.
  4. Compliments come in many forms.
  5. But remember: Haters Gotta Hate.
  6. …So Review your script.
  7. Stay loose.
  8. Elementary school bathrooms are disasters. Pee-pare to be disgusted.
  9. http://michaelvenske.tumblr.com/post/9479000647/do-you-have-problems-with-odor-then-consider-this

  10. You’ll usually park next to a dumpster leaking spoiled milk.
  11. You’ll fight with your tour partner.
  12. Take risks.
  13. http://michaelvenske.tumblr.com/post/18190714361/remember-to-play-hard-leads-to-great-stories

  14. Buy postcards. Then send ’em.
  15. http://michaelvenske.tumblr.com/post/16534800962/oh-the-places-youll-go

  16. Stay active.
  17. http://michaelvenske.tumblr.com/post/16978316312/no-membership-fee-or-hidden-costs

  18. Stay hydrated.
  19. Sightsee.
  20. IMG_4193-001

  21. Earn & thank the fans.
  22. Learn something new everyday.
  23. Get your hotel lined-up early.
  24. Everything is negotiable.
  25. Tour under-budget & negotiate a higher contract next time.
  26. Bring business cards. If a staff member at the school is taking pictures easily request a copy & you could even get yourself a new agent…
  27. IMG_0989_NTC

  28. Meet up with other tours.
  29. IMG_0374_NTC_Rebecca_Andy


    IMG_4826-001

  30. Bring your own supplies.
  31. Share duties.
  32. Know car basics.
  33. 405413958

  34. Take lots of pictures.
  35. Be yourself.
  36. Support your tour partner.
  37. Eat healthy.
  38. http://michaelvenske.tumblr.com/post/19204913091/the-most-difficult-decision-of-my-day-taken-with

  39. Discover local gems…
  40. http://michaelvenske.tumblr.com/post/10777123112/seriously-the-best-in-town-im-on-my-way

  41. …including the locals!
  42. IMG_9781_Friends_NTC

  43. Try new things…
  44. http://michaelvenske.tumblr.com/post/12100425241/perhaps-youve-been-doing-it-wrong

  45. …including: dating the locals!
  46. http://michaelvenske.tumblr.com/post/18518207094/an-example-of-my-past-relationships-taken-with

  47. Patience: learn & practice.
  48. http://michaelvenske.tumblr.com/post/18191572825/quiz-if-the-wait-at-starbucks-is-9-minutes-and

  49. Costumes need to be washed more often than you think.
  50. http://michaelvenske.tumblr.com/post/11841964446/washland-taken-with-instagram

  51. Love the clothes you bring.
  52. My favorite sweater is a hand-me-down from my old man.

    My favorite sweater is a hand-me-down from my old man.

  53. Stay in touch with loved ones.
  54. http://michaelvenske.tumblr.com/post/19128121022/cheers-to-friends-family-both-here-hereafter

  55. Be grateful.
  56. THANK YOU CARD 2

    THANK YOU CARD 4

    THANK YOU CARD 6

    THANK YOU CARD 10

    THANK YOU CARD 11

  57. Rejoice! You’re living the dream!
  58. http://michaelvenske.tumblr.com/post/16925504288/hi-from-gumby-2-ntcactorsontour-taken-with

What have you learned while touring? Please leave a comment!

Touring with the National Theatre for Children

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 a lot:

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 are thoughts I’ve been thinking about the tour, how it felt to do the work, and how the tour affected me.
John Potter
First and maybe even most importantly: my tour partner, John Potter, was awesome to work with.

He’s kind, talented, fun, adventurous, and a weight-loss champion! John made the tour a blast from beginning to end!

And we’re proud that we performed every show! We didn’t have any sick days or bad weather. There wasn’t any trouble crossing state lines. And we certainly weren’t going to let a disabled tour vehicle keep us from 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 passion.

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 then there were a handful of kids that are just flat-out courageous inspirations dealing with life the only way they knew how: living.

Michael Facebook

Moments like the above were 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. 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.

In a few weeks I’m going back out on the road with NTC and the tour can’t come soon enough!