HOW TO KEEP YOUR SPIRITS HIGH ON A DEMANDING TOUR
Do you want to be on one of those magical tours, that feels like the most beautiful experience and your batteries get recharged automatically?
YES, we all want to and yet sometimes we end up in a less magical or nightmarish experience. We still have to survive and perform at our best and there is a lot we can do, to make the tour a pleasant experience, no matter what the circumstances are.
To keep your spirits high, it might help to be very honest with yourself about the WHY you are on that tour at all. What was your initial motivation to sign that tour? If you are a totally chilled person no matter what, you might not need to know but if you are not that chilled when things start to get rough, prepare yourself and:
KNOW YOUR WHY
When you sign that contract, know your why. Most important don’t lie to yourself about motivation. We artists tend to turn the not so perfect reasons (“I need the money”, “My management told me to”, “I won’t get a job anywhere else” or “I just want to see the world and get paid”) into more valuable sounding ones (“They really wanted ME to be part of it”, “I have always wanted to work with xyz”, “The payment is fantastic”, “It is such an artistic challenge” etc.). Be honest, at least with yourself. What is your intention?
Sometimes your mind has a very reasonable why, while your heart has another why. Acknowledge that sometimes it might not be easy to bridge the two. Know where you stand.
KNOW YOUR WHY NOT
Again, in order to really know why you are doing what you are doing, be honest with yourself. Listen to that nagging voice inside of you, that doubts or belittles or doesn’t like to go on tour at all. Sometimes the WHY NOT shows in the form of fear or anger. Know why you should not be on that tour.
To be aware of your WHY and WHY NOT will automatically strengthen your sense of self and help you stay focused on your intention for the tour. The WHY NOT will also be your compass on what things should be taken care of (f.e.: if your why not is: “I am way too good for that”, you should prepare artistic challenges for yourself).
Techniques like ho'oponopono or EFT, the emotional freedom technique, are easy self-help methods to calm the WHY NOT, should you feel overwhelmed (both methods are explained online, just google). In case of bigger issues of self-sabotage or recurring problems Julia Cameron’s-The Artists Way book can be a helpful companion to befriend with all your artists faces.
The knowledge of your intention and blocks will help to stay in control of your emotions, well-being and artistic excellence, when presented with challenges.
Now, it also helps to strengthen your “inner touring artist”, to be aware of the seemingly more obvious:
KNOW YOUR WEAKNESS AND STRENGTH
Be aware and remind yourself of what you are totally great at: travelling, performing without rehearsal, improvisation, cheering people up… praise yourself.
Know what freaks you out: the dirty hotel rooms, waiting at airports, loneliness or long rehearsals, 11 shows a week… whatever it is, take care of it. Talk to that tour manager, bring your own towels or practice your stamina to perform the 11 shows easily…
Once you are on tour and you have to deal with:
A CRAZY SCHEDULE
How to deal with a crazy schedule, bad organization, delayed flights or horrible hotel rooms?
Seemingly uncontrollable circumstances can be very demanding on your physical well-being and your mental-emotional balance.
The best help is to keep a certain (slightly flexible rhythm). Your rhythm. Keep an eating rhythm. Try to eat at the same time (an online time zone calculator can help calculate the best times, when changing time zones). Bring packed dry fruits or vegetables, coconut flakes, nuts or protein bars with you. This will allow you to have a snack at the right time, no matter where you are and keep your system balanced.
Bring whatever makes you feel comfortable, a “Kuscheldecke” or pillow and yes, your childhood teddy, and make yourself comfortable in the crabby hotel room, at the airport or backstage.
You will probably already do that, bring your player and zoom yourself out of the craziness around by listening to your favorite classical music, meditation or nature sounds.
Expose to sunlight and fresh air. Move and dance, especially when you are exhausted. Hop and skip around your hotel room. Hum and breath. Make funny sounds. Shake that body. Shower. Recharge your batteries.
Something very important: Say No. You cannot stay calm admits the storm, if you don’t know how to say no and know your no.
Artistic troubles are a natural part of growing and learning. Like anywhere else, someone might just not like your art or appreciate it. Sometimes the audience might not like the show. Sometimes you might just not perform with the excellence you strive for. Sometimes excellence might not be asked for and quantity goes before quality. Sometimes your ideas and form of expression might not go with the idea of your director.
While on tour there might just not be the time to make the necessary changes or rehearse more.
You might feel like your heart is breaking and begin to feel really uncomfortable.
Whatever artistic trouble it might be: don’t start the blaming game! Stay out of it! Stay out of self-pity as well!
How? Comfort your artist self! Keep your artist happy.
Allow your artist self to play and enjoy and learn. Should, at the time being, the performance not be the time to play-create play time!
Try something new. Take your artist self out to a local store and explore instruments, voice teachers, take a class with an artist you always wanted to meet, learn a local piece… should you not be able to do that, find something on youtube and improvise with the artist in the video. You are an artist, be creative and invent plays, take play time.
Mobbing happens. Yes, it is unfair. Yes, it is a nightmarish experience. Yes, yes, yes.
While some feel motivated to take up the fight, others just might feel depressed.
Sometimes that team is just not the one. Sometimes a member of the management is not on your side. Sometimes a colleague tries to artistically outdo you, sometimes there might not be a way to sort it out or anyone to talk to… remember, you want to stay healthy and well.
Take care of your energy. Focus on your well-being. Turn around. Ignore if you must. Take time outs. Imagine that you are surrounded by a bulb of light and only things you allow in, can touch you. This might sound esoteric, yet, it will help yourself to not take the mobbing personal. Most of the time, the tour is not the place to understand why it is happening to you. The tour is not the place to expect yourself to be always loving and forgiving like an incarnation of the Holy Spirit, if you are affected by mobbing. The tour is the place to keep your energy up and to deliver your best performance.
No, you don’t have to be friendly, if you don’t want to anymore. Be bad, if it makes you feel better. Speak out and up. Avoid the blame game (again). Avoid the “I hurt you back”-game. Avoid paying attention and re-action. Surprise them with unusual actions instead. Get out of the “atmosphere” as much as you can.
Should the situation make you feel frustrated and angry: express it without hurting yourself or other people. Write hate letters and burn them. Scream. Fight with your pillows. Run or do another sport. It is totally okay to behave like a mean witch behind closed walls. No karmic consequences from “not loving your enemy”. Feel what you feel and express the autsch. Paint it. Continue until the pressure releases and let go.
Should the situation make you feel hurt and sad: invite and meet local artists or friends. Spoil yourself with a massage. Make yourself feel good. This is a very good way to practice techniques to make you happy. Take a bath. Do a sightseeing tour. Write love letters to yourself. Allow yourself to be well despite the experience.
Claudia Kohl is an artist, Alexander
Technique coach, designer and author. She is the founder of The Artists Coaching in Berlin, a studio dedicated to support artists in their creative, artistic process as well as life. She has helped singers, musicians, actors, dancers and circus artists, to build a healthy and inspired carrier. Claudia likes to work with artists suffering from anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, chronic pain, burnout or artists with the courage to start something new. She comes from a background of theatre and dance before studying the Alexander Technique and developing her own method with the artists of the famous Cirque du Soleil. As a nomad and curious soul she has traveled and experienced more than most people do in their lifetime. She believes that art is what we are and that it is our responsibility to make the world a better place. She is known for her down to earth, loving and highly inspired, engaging approach to coaching. Claudia’s insights inspire audiences around the world through her monthly “Inspiration” newsletter and online coaching. For artists in Berlin, besides one on one sessions, she offers weekly Bohemian Brunches and Artistic Vision Quests.