I recently concluded a six week primary school musical tour, and I survived…
The words theatre in education are often followed by a long sigh. Kids, long days and over the top acting aren’t the most alluring draw cards for starry-eyed young actors. And I won’t lie, in the midst of a three show day on a dreary Tuesday, knowing you have a whole week to go, a long sigh is the only option. That being said, I would highly recommend doing a theatre in education tour – with a few necessary clauses.
Keep it Short. Look, if you want to do a 6-12 month TIE tour then go ahead. If you are being paid equity wages or above, it’s not a bad pay check. You will also often get per diems if you are touring away from home. But you have to ask yourself why you are doing this tour? If you are wanting to move forward in your acting career, being stuck on the road for an extended period can start to become counterproductive. That being said some of the really great TIE tours might be worth the sacrifice. At the end of the day you are acting. You are doing what you love and that in itself is fantastic.
Learning. Whether it is for six year olds or sixteen year olds it is a great learning experience. Kids are an honest audience, and you can learn a lot from them. You are performing usually around 12 shows a week, which in its self is a great challenge and keeps you stage fit.
Work is work. At the end of the day you are being paid for what you love. Or should love, otherwise go work in a bank. You are using your skill set to pay the bills and that is pretty exciting, I think. Some tours are now very highly regarded. The Bell Shakespeare players program is in fact very well regarded and it is a great gateway if you want to get involved with the company. I have only heard rave reviews of this program and though it is long, if working in theatre, and especially with Shakespeare, is your goal this may be one tour worth committing to for an extended period of time.
Experience. I had a wonderful time on my six week tour. It was a new and interesting experience. It got me out of my hospitality job and I was active and working in a new location. You see lots of places and meet a multitude of strange and wonderful people. You can also only know if something is for you by giving it a go.
Theatre in education is not to be scoffed at. Working with kids and teens is vital and rewarding. However, if your aspirations are to work professionally on stage and screen then be careful you don’t get caught spending years working in an area that won’t take you to the next stage.
If it is a short tour, with a regarded company go for it! Make some money and have some fun. If it is a longer tour make sure it is for a great company such as Bell Shakespeare, which may help move your career forward once it’s all over, otherwise you are potentially losing 6-9 months and it all could end in one long sigh.