Monday, 21 May 2012
"Papa was a rolling stone, Wherever he lay his hat was his home"
I predict that in 13 hours and 15 minutes hours I will be crying. This is not a pessimistic prophecy on a “glass-half-empty day” but a realistic expectation judging from my recent behaviour. You see (and this is an embarrassing revelation) at the start of each week, on the day I have to leave for a new venue on the tour, I burst into tears as I re-pack my suitcase.
It is pathetic that a grown woman is wailing like a 5 year old clinging to her mother’s skirt as I type a new and unknown postcode into my sat-nav, especially as I am only leaving to do a job I love. But weep and wail I do, despite only having ten weeks left “on the road.” I find it increasingly hard to leave my flat, my family and my fella.
The nomadic lifestyle of an actor is challenging. You need to find somewhere to sleep, familiarise yourself with new theatres and cities and re-pack your clothes every 6 days. I will always remember when I first learnt about nomads when studying the Native American Indians for GCSE History, I think it began my love of discovering new words. You know when you secretly feel slightly more intelligent when you learn a big word and its meaning, resulting in you dropping it into random sentences for weeks on end? No? Just me? Well, you won’t find me using “word of the day” loo roll but that is one of my quirks.
The definition of a nomadic way of life is “communities of people who move from one place to another, rather than settling permanently in one location.” There are approximately 30-40 million nomads in the world and perhaps our touring company of Avenue Q is included in that. We could particularly be likened to the Peripatetic Nomads who travel about offering skills or crafts in return for food. I have yet to be given a cheeseburger in return for a rousing chorus of “The Internet is Porn” but you get my drift!
Many cultures are traditionally nomadic so couldn’t it be argued that somewhere in the recesses of my DNA I am programmed to be a nomad? Who am I kidding? I can’t sleep a full night in a tent without freaking out about hedgehogs breaking in and think that Yurts are purely a “glamping” trend. I have been fully modernised!
But it has got me thinking about the similarities between this long-established way of life and our tour around the UK. The Native Americans just needed nature to survive; it provided them with weapons, food and shelter. So what do my fellow cast members need? The dominant answer was technology; we depend on iPads, iPhones and laptops to communicate with the outside world. How did people survive before wifi and WhatsApp? Imagine Big Chief Rain Man from Utah courting Little Dancing Queen from Missouri without Skype?
But delving beyond our technological needs revealed more about us. For example my tour bag always has a jar of peanut butter, gravy granules and a Diptyque candle; peanut butter is my ultimate comfort food, gravy to create a roast dinner and the candle to make any room can smell like home. My wonderful dressing room buddy's suitcase contains a wok, ketchup and a back massager, her clothes get fewer but her DVD collection increases! Another resourceful lady has an emergency bottle of wine in her suitcase; it seems the only way to soften the blow of being stranded at Crewe Station awaiting your delayed connection! The boys are more pragmatic; Kayi insists on Tupperware, Berocca and his own set of cutlery, Luke needs his young person’s railcard and mouthwash! The boys also tour a football, a ukulele and a poker kit, whilst the girls depend on thick socks, teddies and a diary to record their thoughts. It is whatever keeps you sane!
But the overwhelming response related to food. Our basic human needs aren’t so dissimilar to indigenous cultures; they had buffalo and we have Matt’s homemade chicken seasoning! Being able to comfort yourself with familiar food is at the top of our tour survival list until we can get back to Mum for some home-cooked goodness.
So despite loving The Rolling Stones as a band I cannot claim to be a rolling stone myself. I am more than happy to grow moss and settle down, a word derived from the people who went to America to “settle” the Indians and their land.
I may have ten more Mondays of tears but at least I get to share the weeks with some gorgeous, funny people that are as eccentric as I am!