So far in my career, I have starred in 3 National Tours and one International sit down gig that lasted 16 weeks in Moscow, Russia. I have also done numerous weekend concert gigs in different cities all over the country. Being on the road or touring is something I know very well.
Let's just say, I know how it feels to just pack my bags and be free to roam. But every gig is different, some destinations are tremendously exciting (on the beach in Barbados) and some are not exciting at all (Sorry Erie, PA)
But with all the excitement and exploring, the hardest part is being away from family and the comforts of home. And it’s much harder as you grow a family of your own.
But being on the road is something a performer must adapt to. Whether you are Beyoncé or Chorus Member #10, you will pretty much spend a good portion of your career traveling or touring. It is where the money is made. And as an entertainer, a lot of those times you are working the hardest when everyone else is chillin’....weekends, holidays, during the summer and especially during Christmas.
What is exciting is getting paid really well to go all over the country and the world! I used to go to every art museum I could in the major cities I was in. I’ve seen the French Impressionism painting collections in almost every major city in America. Standing in front of A Sunday On The Grande Jatte by George Serat at The Art Institute Of Chicago is exhilarating. While I was in Moscow, I made a point to go sight seeing every chance I got. I saw the inside of every onion domed gold plated church I could, I saw Lenin’s tomb, watched The Bolshoi Ballet perform at The Bolshoi Theatre, shopped at Gumm, marveled at St Basil’s Cathedral, and even tap danced on the cobble stone in Red Square.
Traveling is always something I wanted, and still want, to do. Traveling as a performer is phenomenally exciting! It is also can be emotionally, physically and spiritually draining if you are out on the road too long. You need to take a breath and "ground in" with wherever you call home. Relationships in your life also need to be tended to, family and friends, marriages and children. If you don’t have the latter in your life yet, it can be easier to be away for a long stretch of time. But it is still like living in a bubble and can be very lonely.
What I found is personally, being on the road can take its toll on you as a person. You can’t and should not have your life revolve around your work. A lot of times life on the the road is 90% business, 10% life. And this can cause you to burn out. I have said it before that this business is fleeting, and family and friends are everything. Finding balance between the two can be challenging but it’s so necessary to focus on. You must connect and let that part of your life thrive. The business can be warm, loving and inviting, pay you more money than you have dreamed and praise you with awards and accolades. But it also can turn around and walk away without an explanation. The business can be super cold and dismissive. So don’t give it your everything and forget to nurture the relationships in your life. It’s all about balance and authenticity.
Being on on the road isn’t just for young performers, I find it exhilarating to get out at any age and see the country and the world. Performing anywhere you can is brilliant and feeds the soul! But staying on the road for years on end can drain you and make you forget how to make your own bed (because you are so used to hotels). The awareness of that crucial emotional balance between life on the road and life in the world is my advice to any performer.
Know when it’s time to come home.
The best of both worlds, for me, is weekend or week long gigs on the road. It’s a chance to recharge as an artist. If you are a parent as well, it’s a time to sleep, feed your artistic side and then come home to your children refreshed and renewed. Fill your cup so you can give to your children. If I was to carve out my ideal touring life now, it would be to do awesome weekend or week long gigs out of town or a month long summer gig where I can bring my family. That balance of family and work is my priority, and it feels right to me.
As with anything in life, what feels right and feels authentic is what you should be doing. Life is short and savoring it every day is what i try to do. A life constantly on the road can be long, lonely, exciting and then over. Choose what is best for you.
See you on stage!
These are confessions of my life as an actress working on Broadway, TV and Film for 20 years
Copyright 2017 M Patterson