In our last Monkey Motivation of 2018, Two Year Rep 2017 graduate Dominic Blight gives us an insight into life as a touring actor.
Tell us a little bit about what you’ve been up to since graduating from Fourth Monkey
The first job I got after leaving Monkey was playing an elf at LaplandUK, a huge site specific and immersive Christmas story that took place in a forest in Ascot. Then in the New Year I had a short stint in an Easter Panto before performing alongside two Monkey Alumni Companies; with Worst Absurd at the Brighton Fringe in Clean Mean Eating Machine and Fools Rush In at the Pleasance Theatre with A Murder Most Foley.
What is the project you’re currently working on?
I’m currently playing Capulet and Mercutio in a musical adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, touring throughout Italy.
How did you find out about and audition for the project?
I was put up for the audition by my agent. It was a one day audition with three rounds. Dance first, then singing and then a final acting round. To be honest, I thought I would be going home after the dance round! I can move and my dance ability is fine but I was in a room with musical theatre grads so the standard was quite high. However I got through to the end of the day and a week later, they offered me the job. Looking back, it was a really enjoyable audition process, I gave each round my all and had fun with it. That must have paid off!
How is touring a show different to performing at a single venue?
Touring is as rewarding as it is difficult! At the moment we are changing cities and theatres each day, so every day is different in terms of theatre space. Our first show is 8.30am so get in is at 6am. The second show is 11.30am and we’re usually out by 2.30pm. The 6am get in factors in warm-up, costume, make-up, sound check and pre-setting props for the first show. The first time we did it, the whole thing was a mad rush to go up on time, but now we have a good routine that usually means we are all ready and prepped by the time we get our five minute call.
You have to be organised, time efficient and very adaptable. It also takes a degree of focus to do all this before 9am. The only time you can relax slightly is as the lights come up for the start of Act One. Actually doing the show is the easy part! You can be safe in the knowledge that the variables are within your control, which gives you the space and freedom to play and explore the show more each time you do it. In two weeks, we’ve already done 22 shows and we’re out here for six months. The mantras of ‘different every time’ and ‘be bold and play’ have never been more appropriate!
Where will the show take you across the whole tour?
Over the six months we will, quite literally, be zigzagging our way up and down the country. At the moment we are in Northern Italy; week one was spent circling the outskirts of Milan, going as far north as the foot of the Alps on the border with Switzerland. This last week we’ve been in Tuscany and just now, we’re on the coast in Genoa. Sicily is next, then home for a Christmas break. In the New Year its all points between Florence, Naples, Rome and Verona. Then back to Milan!
What are your plans for after the tour?
Settling in to a non-nomadic life will be the first thing and getting used to not having all your worldly possessions in a suitcase! Then finding a new house – because I had to move out before starting the tour, most of my life is in storage. After that, getting back into a day job and hunting down the next acting job. Essentially my home life has been put on hold while I’m out here, so I need to press the restart button when I get back. Maybe a quick holiday wouldn’t go amiss before the madness starts again!
Do you have any advice for any actors looking to go on tour?
Be as flexible and adaptable as possible and accept the travelling life – it can be tiring and challenging at times but equally you’re getting paid to see a country or countries whilst doing the job you love.
Find a stable point to focus on amongst the changes. For me it is the show itself. No matter where I am or what’s gone on before, I know that the show is a safe place in which I can be secure in the knowledge that myself and the ensemble are in control of what happens. That gives you the space and the freedom that, at times, may not be afforded to you on the road.
Remember you are not alone. At times you may feel lonely or far from home and you’ll be missing family and friends but they are never far away. A phone call or a Facetime can work wonders. Seeing the face or hearing the voice of a loved one is enough to dispel any traveling blues. Sharing your experience with someone you care about makes it all the better too. Similarly, it’s not just people at home but the people on tour that make the experience special and keep you feeling safe and happy. People are sociable creatures, actors perhaps more so, it is the ensemble that makes it worthwhile and just like drama school, on tour you’ll make friends for life.
Finally and above all else, make the most of the experience. You’ll learn a lot about yourself as an actor, and perhaps as a person, and you’ll no doubt come home with skills and experiences you didn’t have when you left. Maybe keep a journal of your time away so you can look back on it later, the ups and the downs!