BFA in Gypsying?: Tips for the Traveling Lifestyle With a Theatre Degree, Part 2

“There is no other life
Of which I’m fonder
It’s just the Gypsy in my soul
No cares
No strings
My heart has wings
If I am fancy free
And love to wander
It’s just the Gypsy in my soul”
-“The Gypsy in My Soul” by Moe Jaffe and Clay Boland

Greetings again from your blogging gypsy fairy, currently flapping my wanderlust wings abroad in Asia, as I’m getting ready to bid adieu to a year of performing on the road. My gypsy flight will soon be grounded back in the Big Bad Apple, but when it comes to a career in the theatre, who knows for how long and where the winds will take me next?!

Tara photo 1

Sensoji Temple in Asakusa- Tokyo, Japan

Booking a theatre gig in NY, especially on the Great White Way, is a bit more competitive and limited compared to the many opportunities for working out of town, whether that be on tours or cruise ships or at regional venues, summer stocks, and theme parks.  For stage actors, it can sometimes feel like you live in NY just to leave NY with constant scrambles for sublets, endless luggage lugging, long stretches far from home, and resumes that list theatres all across the globe, designing this unique get-up-and-go pattern.  It can feel a bit chaotic and circusy, but by default it turns many theatre pros into inherent travelers.  Society norms are traded in for a bohemian spirit and unconventional lifestyle!

In Part 1, I laid out practical gypsying tips for traveling light and smart, recording your journey through receipts and tweets, shaking off jet lag, and exploring the world beyond your stage door.  Now, in Part 2, we will get a touch hippy dippy and expand deeper into a soul survival guide, transforming your travels into extended work-cations and creative jungle gyms as well as a chance to spark self discoveries and life long connections. PLUS there will be a special bonus checklist of must-haves for anyone embarking on their first tour, composed by one-nighter bus and truck warriors that frequently battled weather changes, sore muscles, uncomfortable bus seats, and hunts for healthy food.  Wellness is important for both your body and spirit and this list got your back!

You ready for the final four gypsy pearls of wisdom? (Wait a second, did you miss Part 1?! Click HERE for a flashback!)

5. Develop a Routine/Ritual

Gypsy artists are masters of embracing the “temporary,” funnily enough, as the only “permanent” truth of life, leaning on a strong inner foundation to navigate their journeys and manifest their creations in a constantly evolving world.  Rather than clutching to material possessions or popularity as things of lasting value, they allow the richness of experience to define and shape who they are, moving on and growing without baggage.  This deep-down trust requires a marriage between self-care and a soul discipline that inspires delicious conversations on the inside.  Crafting a routine or ritual you love will support just that!

As your venues and living arrangements steadily shift, it is important to develop a solid practice that can be done virtually anywhere, waking up your soul and creativity, getting your blood pumping, and swinging you energetically into the present moment.  I like to think of it as “soul fuel.”  I usually go for a morning pit stop, engaging in meditation and stillness as soon as my eyes flicker open, followed by journaling through a stream of consciousness, and then doing something for my body, varying between a quick stroll, a couple of planks and push ups, jumping jacks, gentle yoga poses, and/or a 5-min cardio combo.  I also enjoy using this personal space and time to dump out any toxins before I interact with the rest of the world, letting go of all worries and woes weighing me down. The goal is always to feel lighter, getting out of my head and into my body.

For a post-show unwind, baths can be a bangarang answer to a relaxing and cleansing escape.  You can even make your soak feel like a trip to the spa with candles and soothing musical playlists.  And then to get a good night’s sleep, unplug from all digital gizmos and gadgets about 1 hour before you tucker out.  Aim for a restful 6-9 hrs and find your magic number (mine is 7!).

Tara photo 2 meditation

Hasadera Temple in Kamakura, Japan

Its also wise to find a balance between your tourist desires and performance obligations as well as staying connected to loved ones back home.  Loosely mapping out your week in advance can be a big time savior. Some tips:

  • Work non-negotiable vocal and physical warm ups into your schedule to maintain stamina and avoid injury.  The shower before call time is a perfect place to sing some scales, as it mutes your sound and also lubricates your chords with the steam.
  • Limit adventures’ lengths to the demands of your show, especially on two doh shays, and use rainy days as the perfect opportunity to stay in for mental health or office hours.
  • Schedule Skype dates with your boo and keep your family and friends in the loop, especially when you’re coming to a town close by.  Create clever hashtags for your family, friends, and fans to follow as well in the social media world!

BONUS TIP: Give yourself an off stage intention or goal.  You can get all EAT, PRAY, LOVE and go after a separate spiritual quest, or be a bit simpler with may be wanting to eat more greens, tone up those abs, make a new friend, learn an instrument, or read more books.  Anything that makes you feel happy and fulfilled.  You can even take it to the next level and create groups amongst your company from book clubs to work out parties.  I can’t tell you how many lobbies and parkings I’ve done Shaun T’s Insanity in!

6. Practice Gratitude 

In Japan, where I was performing this summer, “arigatou gozaimasu,” translated to “thank you very much,” has been my most spoken exchange with the locals.  The Japanese culture graciously honors gratitude like nothing I’ve ever seen before, and it’s beyond humbling and inspiring.  It has made me view gratitude as the ultimate universal language.

So count those blessings, especially when times are tough with things like 9-show weeks draining you and no day off in sight. I’ve been there and this was my ticket out: record three things before you go to bed every night that you were grateful for in your day – things that took you by surprise and made you feel loved or inspired.  Whether it be the wild applause of the audience, a co-worker helping you carry your suitcase upstairs, or an amazing gluten free cupcake you devoured that morning, notice what perked up your day and made you smile.  Practicing gratitude will also help you avoid cast drama, stepping outside of what sometimes can feel like a bubble, and become a generator of generosity on stage and in the dressing rooms.

Also, don’t be afraid to express it and let someone know when they’ve touched your heart.  Be a praise fairy and go up to them out of the blue; you can then in turn make their day and become what they’re grateful for!  The more you practice gratitude, the more tiny miracles you will witness!

7. Find the Locals’ Hot Spots

Go off the grid a bit and discover more than the touristy attractions: go where the locals like to hang!  Get brave and ask the Taylor the Latte Boy at the coffee shop next door to give you some pointers, striking up a conversation and getting to know someone in the community.  If you are feeling a bit shy, the YELP app can be a tell-tale sign of people’s most starred bars, restaurants, shops, and attractions, but friending strangers can be a bit more fun!

Queen Bean, Modesto, CA: My coffee haven.

Queen Bean, Modesto, CA: My coffee haven.

At a theatre I worked at in Florida, everyone in my cast was given discount/loyalty cards for all kinds of things in the area and a group of us fell in love with a local yoga studio listed, going nearly every day for half the price.  We also worshipped the studio’s owner, who gave us a lay of the land with the zen, dishing out the local treasure from wineries to bakeries.  She also sent us flowers on opening night, making us feel ultra loved and at home.  So go make those community connections!  It also just never hurts to support the independent businesses out there.  Give the Mom and Pop shops some love!

Yoga Pagoda, Vero Beach Florida, GREASE 2013 Yogis

GREASE 2013 Yogis at Yoga Pagoda, Vero Beach, Florida

BONUS TIP: Become a ringleader and take the initiative on either organizing an outing or contributing something fun for your cast and company (everyone loves Secret Santa!) to do off the clock.  This is a great remedy for cabin fever, usually the result of being cooped up in hotels for too long a stretch, and can make an excuse for cast bonding – and we all know that’s the magic ingredient behind making a cast feel like a family!  If there is something you know you want to do in an upcoming destination, invite others along and see if there is any interest.  You may even be surprised with who you share things in common with!  How else could I know that my Mother Superior and her daughter on SISTER ACT would want to go to a bunny cafe with me in Tokyo?

RA.A.G.F The Bunny Cafe in Tokyo, Japan with my stuffed bunny I've had since birth, Bun Bun. Bun Bun is an international touring expert for stuffed animal cuddle buddies around the world!

RA.A.G.F The Bunny Cafe in Tokyo, Japan with my stuffed bunny I’ve had since birth, Bun Bun. Bun Bun is an international touring expert for stuffed animal cuddle buddies around the world!

8. Seek Creative Outlets Beyond Your Show

Sometimes doing the same show on rinse and repeat for over 100 performances can feel stagnant, no matter what you do to rally; your creative muscles are just craving a new workout.  That’s totally okay and this urge to artistically splurge can line up with your offstage intention from step 5.  Some ideas for a creative outlet:

  • Throw together a cast cabaret.  These can feel like rock concerts, especially when ensemble members or understudies get to let loose and wail, sharing a side of them you don’t get to see every day.  Cabarets are easy, creative joy, and it’s a bonus if you do it for a cause! (Check out Broadway Serves!)
  • Collaborate with other cast and crew members and toss around ideas.  Compose original music, write a webseries, teach each other and trade off special skills, create masterclasses, harmonize a cappella- anything that gets you jazzed and challenges your artist inside!  Way back when on my educational tour, I traded tap dance lessons with a cast mate for coaching on my Shakespeare monologues: bartering at its most brilliant!
  • Write.  Poetry, short stories, blogs, plays, your one person show, or just dear diary.  I LOVE TO WRITE.  I find whole new meanings behind experiences that I didn’t quite see before! (Check out Soul Spice, my personal blog for my life coaching business!)
  • Read new plays and listen to new musicals.  Find what speaks to your soul and note your theatre gurus from favorite composers to performers to keep on your radar.
  • Arts and crafts time: Doodle and sketch!  I’m a huge fan of coloring books, especially for long travel days.  I recommend grabbing a mandala coloring book, which basically gives you a visual meditation in return!
  • Invest in Skype Lessons or Online Programs.  Keep working parts of your skill sets that aren’t worked in the show or take an online class on anything you desire.  Heck, you can even learn a new language or take college accredited courses!  What have you been putting off that you’ve always wanted to explore?  DO IT.
  • Collect and/or Scrapbook on your journey.  Check out The Love Letter Library for journaling at its finest.  I made sure I snagged a playbill to scrapbook and postcard to mail to my boyfriend from every one of my tour stops this year.  Since both my boyfriend and I have had our share of gypsy adventures as performers over these past 5 years together, we are decorating our Christmas Tree will all the postcards we’ve collected!  What was originally a way to keep in touch transformed into a creative holiday project!
Sister Act playbills

Playbills on playbills.

Gypsies are more than just ordinary roamers passing by; they are absorbers of their atmospheres, allowing their travels to inspire who they are and who they will become in the world.  They are like wind chimes in the breeze, making music as they move, but relishing in their moments of silent stillness. They share an artist soul.


Hiking in Anchorage, Alaska

I wish all you traveling artists good gypsy tidings the next time you hop a caravan and venture out of town.  May you feel an unlimited freedom and soak in your experience to the fullest!  But before I go, the Bonus Checklist I promised.  Thanks for reading!

BONUS: The Saving Grace Checklist for Touring Maiden Voyages

My National Tour Debut as Mama Who on the GRINCH

My National Tour Debut as Mama Who in the GRINCH

  • Morning Hot Water with lemon, honey, and apple cider vinegar (Endless benefits to digestive health and immunity)
  • Coconut Oil for oil pulling to clean out bacteria, toxins, and viruses and even whiten teeth!
  • Salt and pepper (salt for gargling and pepper for bedtime teas when fighting congestion)
  • Multi-Vitamins, Fish Oil, and Vitamin C (Sugar Free Hals Drops and Emergen-C)
  • Grether’s Pastilles
  • Zicam
  • Electrolyte Fizz
  • Green Superfood Power Drinks
  • Neck Pillow (Full Size Pillow, Blanket, and Egg Crate Foam Topper for Bus and Truck Tours)
  • Heating Pad
  • Portable massagers, foam rollers, and or tennis balls for muscle therapy
  • Tiger Balm, Arnica, and/or Icy Hot for more muscle love
  • Essential Oils for fragrance and congestion
  • Wellness Formula
  • Packing Cubes for suitcase organization
  • Travel humidifier and travel facial steamer
  • Magic Bullet Mini for on-the-go smoothies
  • Power strip for hotels
  • Pictures of loved ones to decorate dressing rooms
  • 2-3 weeks worth of underwear
  • Febreeze and Potpourri
  • Yogi Brand teas
  • Candles with lighter
  • Facial Masks
  • Bottle opener
  • Traveling microwavable mug
  • All in One Utensil
  • Yoga mat, resistance band, and athletic jump rope
  • Cast FB Group
  • Fast Food Calorie Counter App (when the pickings are slim)
  • Nike Fitness App
  • Mind Body Connect App
  • Omvana App
  • Headspace App
  • Relax Melodies App
  • Uber App
  • Water Logged App
  • Favorite Stuffed Animal Cuddle Buddy (See Bunny Cafe Picture Above)

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