Bummer – When the Gig Doesn’t Go

Posted by: on October 25, 2016

Most inquiries never get past the initial request for information – folks are positively gobsmacked to discover that you can’t get a 10 person 30 minute circus show for $1000 on Christmas. If we get past the sticker shock, and they’re still interested, now comes All The Questions – can we rig there? How much space will we really have? Can we do it over a pool filled with sharks? This stage can take weeks. I’m not going to lie – it can be le poo (like fifteen-conference-calls-a-week-and-CAD-drawings-rendered le poo). BUT – if their wishes and our magic line up, we get….


Before the contract is signed and the deposit received? No gig is foolproof. We had one fold just today that I’ve been working HARD on for months because of an un-forseeable family emergency. Le. Poo.

What Does that Mean to Us As Performers?

It can be a delicate dance, because no one wants to miss out on work; here are a few tips to hopefully make things easier.

  1. Hold the date. If someone asks you to hold a free date, pop a note in your calendar with a question mark.
  2. First refusal. So – you’re holding a date, but get another inquiry. What to do? Be transparent. Tell the first person that you have another show or company asking after the date, and give them the right of first refusal. If they are not going to be ready to go to contract within a day or two, you may have to go with offer number two. It’s not personal – we know that, and we want you to WORK! Often, it comes down to whoever produces a guarantee first.
  3. It’s an official go! When you hear those words, you should see a contract within a few days. HOORAY!
  4. It’s a bust. Sometimes, sh*t happens and it doesn’t go – even if a crazy amount of prep has already happened. When you get the news as an artist, be sure to acknowledge it with a quick email response like, “Oh no! How disappointing. Thanks for letting me know,  looking forward to working with you in the future.” Radio silence can sometimes come off as peevish, and doesn’t give a nod to the butt-busting work that planner or agent did (for free) on your behalf.

Events aren’t an exact science, because PEOPLE. Do be gracious, and understand that there are a huge number of moving parts to every event which we don’t control. Now, go forth and WORK! Dare to imagine, Laura

Workshop – Up Your Hustle with Authenticity and Passion A Casting Insider’s Tips on Getting More Work

Posted by: on October 21, 2016

Workshop – Up Your Hustle with Authenticity and Passion

A Casting Insider’s Tips on Getting More Work


In this workshop, co-owner of ImaginAerial and long-time aerialist Laura Witwer will dive into what makes a pro a pro, and makes us hire them again and again. We’ll cover:

  • The easy-to-avoid mistakes newbies make which lead to lost work.
  • How to create great relationships with companies, and get cast again and again.
  • What materials to have on hand to send at a moment’s notice, and where to have them.
  • How to buy a bit of time to check on availability, without looking flaky.
  • Dedicated Q&A time to ask your specific questions and get detailed answers about the casting process, working relationships, and more.

Workshop – Up Your Hustle With Authenticity and Passion – A Casting Insider’s Tips on Getting More Work

Sunday, November 6, 2017, 5:00-6:00 pm

Big Sky Works, 29 Wythe Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

$45 Early Bird Rate until October 30, $55 after October 30

  • Paypal & your credit card will show payment to SassyPants Aerial Arts.


Two-Faced: Your Performance Persona vs YOU, and How Simple Boundaries Help

Posted by: on October 18, 2016

signing-autographsIt’s a weird thing that we navigate as performers – the disconnect between the zany or glamorous persona we present on stage, and the real us that our friends and families know. I’m often approached, in person and online, by people who have clearly mistaken me for my stage or “e-self”, and it can get really weird! I had an interesting chat with a young artist who’s enjoying his “15 seconds” this past week, and it occurred to me that we don’t often talk about this. Allow me.

People make a lot of assumptions about us, don’t they? Many a lust-crazed swain, or fan who wants to get a little closer, seem to think we’re either wild and crazy daredevils with a propensity for making the beast with two backs on our trapezes, or austere performance athletes who work out twelve hours a day and subsist on lettuce leaves and moon beams. Where do they get this stuff?

Thing is, when that phony tail, lashes, WonderBra, and two pairs of Spanx come off (it’s a process), I’m a shy, frightfully risk-averse person with huge dreams and a hefty dose of (charming?) neurosis. I hate working out, swear like a sailor, and swill wine right from the bottle. The bedazzled glamazon in a sparkly unitard who smiles for two hours straight or smolders on a silk isn’t real – she dissolves with some cold cream and a pair of sweatpants.

What is real is the odd hotel key card pressed into your hand, offers of drinks, easy access via social media, folks who hope a little of your shine will rub off on them – lots of people who imagine you to be someone rather different than you are. How do we navigate this, particularly in the realm of social media?

Boundaries, Yo.

The boundaries you set depend quite a bit on where you’re feeling uncomfortable or squeezed. This next bit scratches the surface, but I think you’ll get the idea.

Setting boundaries becomes more important (and more difficult) when we factor in the easy access afforded by the internet. Any weenie with a modem can track you down. What to do?

  • Stick with la famiglia. Our fellow circus folks generally don’t give a flying flip what we do (hell, I’m lucky if they don’t roll their eyes when I reveal my apparatus). Instead, there’s generally a mutual appreciation, oodles of commiseration, and only sometimes a little fan-girling (I made a complete idiot of myself when I met Isabelle Chasse). My point is, they get you, probably don’t want anything from you, they know what you do, and they don’t have stars in their eyes when you meet. We’re family.
  • pre-show-interviewEstablish your personal “rules” for friending and connecting. For me, it looks like this:
    • Are they in the biz? Circus performance, production, management, etc? This is an easy yes – I’ve gotten more work than I can say through professional contacts and friendships which started online. I’ve gotten connected with some of the BEST people, whom I might not have met otherwise, and some have become dear and close friends. Love that.
    • Do we have at least 10 friends in common? If not, I sometimes direct them to my FB page (see below).
    • Are they family, friends, or folks from my past? If you didn’t torture me in grade school, you’re probably in. If you did, look at me now, bitch! Ahem.
  • Create an FB business page and funnel people who don’t “make the cut” over there. This allows them to keep in touch, but creates a bit of a boundary which can discourage over-familiarity with fans or audience members.
  • Decide on your personal policies for dispensing advice, meeting with people who want to “pick your brain”, etc. Like it or not, there are only 24 hours a day – you can’t do it all. If responding to requests for guidance, info, or opinion are taking up a fair amount of time, that’s time you aren’t spending hustling.

At the end of the day, it’s a super personal call. Some of us fly under the radar, some are super social and delighted to message with virtual strangers until dawn, while others find themselves weeding out that friend list on a weekly basis. Do what feels right! We want to be surrounded, both physically and virtually, with *our* people – folks who like and love us, know and appreciate who we really are, and fuel the fire of our dreams instead of siphoning off our energy. Good fences make for good neighbors. Dare to imagine, Laura

So, You Say You Want to Work in Showbiz? Up Your Hustle!

Posted by: on October 4, 2016

This past week, I had an interesting experience – one that I’ve had surprisingly often in the circus community. I had an event that I needed to cast with lightening speed, so I put the word out on social media, and got several fantastic leads. Within 30 seconds, one artist had sent me 5 photos and a video, and three more performers contacted me over the course of the hour. These artists are all pros, and they WORK – constantly. But here’s the funny bit – some folks didn’t get around to replying for days. DAYS. Friends, by that time, the ship has sailed – the money is off the table. That’s the most depressing situation for everyone involved! And it doesn’t have to be that way! New York City circus artists, it might be time to up your hustle.

Don’t Leave Work on the Table

As it turns out, the “lightening speed” was a bit premature (the client decided to play with the line-up for the evening), but here’s the take away: the artist who hustles gets the most work.

What IS hustle? Hustle is, well, it’s a hunger – a way of being in the professional world. It’s getting back to people immediately with materials or availability, following up on leads, and remembering that inquiries are, hopefully, the beginnings of supportive and exciting long-term working relationships. It’s showing people what they can expect from you professionally – prompt communications, reliability (doing what you say you will do, providing what you say you will provide), and showing respect for another person’s work, time, and investment in whatever endeavor is casting. It also makes the casting person’s job WAY easier, and gratitude often results in good things for everyone.

Silence Speaks – and You’re Not Going to Like What it Says About You

When I was a young actress in NYC, I cannot even tell you the opportunities I let slip through my fingers; it’s simultaneously mortifying and tragic. Once, I had one of NYC’s top agents asking me for more headshots so she could send them out, and I procrastinated. I sent them a few weeks later, but the fire had cooled – I never heard from her again. I’m not in any way sad about where I’ve wound up, in fact, you could say my procrastination was speaking loud and clear about how much I wanted a career in theater (as it turns out, circus was a way better fit); but, if you want circus, and you know you do, you may have a bit to learn about professional standards on the production side.

But I’m BUSY!

Are you too busy to provide a full answer at the moment? There are lots of ways to handle that which don’t involve radio silence. Working a lot and don’t feel any urgency to respond? Great, but sometimes famine follows feasting for artists. Not interested in the project? You might be very interested in the next one, so preserve the relationship. Not a “slave to technology”? M’kay, but accept that you’re going to miss out on work because of it.

I have a lot to say about this (way more than can be said in a blog post), so I’m going to SAY IT, by golly! I’ll be leading a workshop the first weekend in November – I hope to see you there! This will be the first workshop in a series designed to facilitate more productive relationships between talent and producers, help new artists understand best business practices for getting work, and more. Details below! Dare to imagine, Laura


Workshop – Up Your Hustle with Authenticity and Passion

A Casting Insider’s Tips on Getting More Work


In this workshop, co-owner of ImaginAerial and long-time aerialist Laura Witwer will dive into what makes a pro a pro, and makes us hire them again and again. We’ll cover:

  • The easy-to-avoid mistakes newbies make which lead to lost work.
  • How to create great relationships with companies, and get cast again and again.
  • What materials to have on hand to send at a moment’s notice, and where to have them.
  • How to buy a bit of time to check on availability, without looking flaky.
  • Dedicated Q&A time to ask your specific questions and get detailed answers about the casting process, working relationships, and more.


Workshop – Up Your Hustle With Authenticity and Passion – A Casting Insider’s Tips on Getting More Work

Sunday, November 6, 2017, 5:00-6:00 pm

Big Sky Works, 29 Wythe Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

$45 Early Bird Rate until October 30, $55 after October 30

  • Paypal & your credit card will show payment to SassyPants Aerial Arts.





If You Put it On Social Media, Consider it Gone

Posted by: on September 13, 2016

A looooooooong time ago, in the days of VHS and pay phones, Angela Attia and I froze our patooties off in an unheated nightclub in Queens aaaaall winter long to produce… this.


Get that look off your face – this was how it was done back then! In any case, you’ll notice something about this video (aside from its early-2000’s panache): there aren’t a lot of long sequences. Know why that is? Because we wanted to protect our work. At the time, it was quite unique in NYC, to the point where a well-known aerial dance company showed this promo to their company and told them to “try to replicate it”.

They never did, but it didn’t stop people from trying! We were once at a performance of local talent, and a duo popped themselves up on aerial silks. 30 seconds later, half the circus community in the room was looking at Angela and I, and mouthing, “They stole your stuff!”! And sure enough – they’d tried (and failed, but that’s another post).

The moral of this story? If you have work that you would like to protect, for the love of all that’s holy – don’t put it on social media and act surprised when 50,000 aerialists are using it the next day! Putting something online now has almost become code for “yeah, you can totally have this!”.

Luminosity DuoSo excited you can’t stay quiet? You’ve got options! Created a new drop? Don’t show the wrap. Working on a sequence you’re really loving? Put up only what you’re comfortable seeing all over Instagram the next day.

Over the years, people have tried to copy our look, our choreography, even our name. They’ve lifted show ideas, costume designs, you name it. We’ve moved on to other projects, but there will always be folks looking to piggyback off your work. You don’t have to defend holding on to your work for a while! Patents and copyrights exist for a reason. If you’re thinking, “Well, nobody creates anything new anymore!”, that’s probably because YOU haven’t. I don’t buy the “there’s nothing new under the sun” argument because it’s simply not true, as evidenced by the growing body of aerial work, and the artistic evolution in our field. That said, if you don’t want to share, don’t “share”. Dare to imagine, Laura



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ImaginAerial at the Hall of Springs: a Circus-Themed Fundraiser!

Posted by: on August 30, 2016


ImaginAerial had a FABULOUS week, which included a fun and rewarding event at The Hall of Springs (one of our very favorite venues)! We partnered with Fine Affairs to create a vibrant circus theme, and a grand time was had by all. Check it out!




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Are You Charging Too MUCH?

Posted by: on July 19, 2016

Photo by DSTATH Photography. Ellie HUSTLES, and knows the biz inside and out. A pleasure to work with!

Brace yourselves – I’m about to stir the pot. Maybe. But, hear me out, people!

Here in NYC, we’ve had the problem established circus folks seem to be having everywhere – trying to make sure newbies (and hell, sometimes oldies) maintain professional standards of pricing in the biz. This is a good thing! Undercutting career wages within our communities leads to a sad and untimely swan song for our industry. BUT (you totally sensed the “but” coming, didn’t you?), some of you may be taking pricing parameters a little TOO rigidly. I’ve certainly been guilty of it myself!

Ms Allison Williams wrote up this piece, and it’s chock full of conversations worth having, and thoughts worth thinking about.

Show Me Less Money, by Allison Williams

Now that I’m retired from performing and booking gigs for other artists, I’m experiencing an interesting dichotomy.

Performers send me their video, their resume, their pleasant introductory email. They nudge every so often to see if any work is available. And when I have a corporate event, it’s very easy to book them.

But when I have a gig in a college venue, or at an outdoor festival, or a small-town Fourth of July, they’re unaffordable.

Yes, we want to be paid fairly and keep the price up for everyone. It’s only been in the last two or three years that professional aerialists looked around and realized, “If I want newcomers to raise their prices, I have to tell them what the price is.” Artists got a lot less secretive. We still don’t have to say “I made $1200 for Company X,” but it’s useful when we read on Facebook, “Hey, if you’re in Atlanta doing nightclubs, the going rate right now is in this range.”

It’s good to communicate, and it’s good to get paid as much as you can.


Not every gig has a zillion dollars.

Corporate pays big bucks. Plus hotel. Plus travel. Plus food. Sometimes plus per diem.

Most colleges, on the other hand, have $1700-3500 for a show—not per performer, the whole show—plus hotel. You handle your own travel inside that fee. You might do two 45-minute shows in one evening, or three acts in one show.

County fairs are in a similar price bracket, per day, for up to four shows. For a longer run, the day-rate may be lower, but worth it to work ten days in a row and travel once. Outdoor festivals tend to be at the bottom of this range or even below it, but you can often pass the hat on top of your fee.

Colleges, county fairs and outdoor festivals have different expectations. The performers need to engage with the audience, maybe even be funny. Booking these gigs, you must be willing to set expectations kindly—and determine your make-or-break needs. Maybe you’ll be dressing in a meeting room or a locker room or an empty storefront. Maybe you bring your own sound system. Maybe ask for a buyout instead of a meal because the only onsite food is deep-fried and on a stick.

Lower-dollar gigs aren’t any less work. Corporate is time-consuming, but it’s usually pretty easy—show up, do some rehearsal, reassure the client it’s all going to go well, do a five-minute act and then eat whimsical hors d’oeuvres until the party’s over and you can take your rigging down. It’s a long day, it demands high skill (can’t paper over a sloppy move with a joke) and you’re usually worth what you charge—in fact, you won’t get much respect if you’re the cheapest item on the budget. College, fair and festival gigs range from ‘do everything yourself including crowd control,’ to ‘five student lackeys filling your every need.’ I’ve dressed in a room that previously held sheep. Not very much previously. Working outdoors often means rain, heat, or wind. I’ve worked on straw, dirt and snow.

Why do these gigs?

Because we aren’t all fully employed all the time. Because taking home $400-800 each for a day’s work and a half-day’s travel is still more money than a lot of people make in a week.

Because you usually have substantial artistic control over what you present, how you’re dressed, and the tone of the show. It’s a nice change from “we need five girls dressed as bees and please make sure they’re all Barbie bodies. Oh, and our CEO loves Yanni, so use that for your music.”

Because a lot of college shows are on a weeknight, and you can get UnREAL on Hulu when you get back from the gig.

Because at lower-stakes gigs, you can break in new performers in front of a forgiving audience. A student with a solid routine but little experience can learn how to behave at a gig without risking your company’s reputation. If you do three shows in a day, you can give her notes and watch her improve each time.

Because doing your show for different audiences makes you better at doing your show. It keeps you fit and your brain ready to go. It’s more fun than doing your act in the gym. It lets you know what audiences like, which we all know is not the same as what impresses other aerialists.

Because it feels good to work all the time, to say when people ask, “Yes, this is my full-time job. No, I don’t do anything else.”

Because at colleges you get to make stressed kids laugh and at county fairs you get to admire quilts and pet the sheep and bring what you do to a less-jaded crowd, the people who still “only ever saw that on TV,” and part of being an artist is bringing your work to people who need art in their lives, regardless of their ability to pay.

So think about your price. Think about your fair price for seated filet mignon and open bar and professional light and sound at the Marriott. Think about your fair price for 30 college students on a Tuesday night in Utica.

Think about how much you want to work.

Allison Williams is the former Artistic Director of Aerial Angels, and now a full-time writer and journalist working in a variety of price ranges. www.idowords.net 

It’s me again!

THANK YOU, Allison!

At the end of the day, it comes down to a few things IMHO –

  • Do you WANT to perform at this event?
  • Is this a slow time of the year or a Sun-Thurs? Are you likely to have to pass up high-paying work if you accept this gig?
  • Is the pay reasonable, if it’s not good? Does it feel fair/adequate to you? How does it measure up to your losses or expenses if you take the gig?
  • Will you be resentful if you take the job, and wind up part of the Bitter Business Bureau?
  • Do you need to get some performing experience under your belt? Or understand more of what goes into putting up a show?
  • Does the company doing the asking also do a lot of higher-paying events? Are they good people, and fun to work with, or will you want to hang yourself after spending the day with them?


Just because the number isn’t “corporate” doesn’t mean you’re undercutting if you take it. Look at the whole picture, weigh your options, and, if you take it, go into it with everything you’ve got.

Have something to add? Lemme hear ya! Comment below! Dare to imagine, Laura


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A Week of Events for ImaginAerial!

Posted by: on July 5, 2016

Summertime is prime event time, and ImaginAerial has been busy! Check out some of the photos from our recent events!

Awesome Photos by Dstath Photography (@dstathphotography)


Getting In Touch with Our Inner Biker at Hudson Valley Harley-Davidson!



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Can you Trust your Truss??

Posted by: on May 3, 2016

Opening Caveat! We are not riggers. While a professional qualified rigger was consulted for this blog, this blog is only meant to help you identify red flags and to know when to bring in the expert. Experts take years and lots of math to do what they do well. Please do not go around fixing anything based on what you see here. And really, ask questions, and take a rigging class. In other words, don’t try this at home. Okay, butts covered. Now we may begin. 

P1010096 (4)I don’t know about you but when I started as an aerialist and I heard there was a truss to hang from on a gig, I would relax. To me, it meant I didn’t have to make some judgment call about a hook in the ballroom or figure out how to get around a beam that was covered by a false ceiling with some damn chandelier in the way. All I would have to do is tell the tech person the proper load ahead of time, ride that genie lift, whip out my span set, and boom, finito. Latte sipping til show time.

Needless to say, I’ve wised up. I now send a qualified rigger to check things out (especially if we are using multiple aerialists) when there is a truss involved. I’ve realized that all tech people don’t necessarily listen or know what they are doing, because, well, hanging flying humans is a different thing than hanging lights. Luckily, I listened to my gut, and was able to fix situations that looked wrong. I also have access to an amazing human and rigger, Bill Auld, who is happy to answer questions at odd hours and who is also partly responsible for some of this information. Anything incorrect is probably my error.

Here are some things to look for and to know whether or not you need blow the whistle and get a qualified second opinion, which is why you want to try as hard as possible to speak to the rigger who is setting up your truss if at all possible ahead of time.

Truss comes in a few different flavors – engineers may more accurately call them “configurations.” In big bold terms you want truss that is built to be used for how you are using it. What flavor is that? That is, you need truss that is engineered to be a beam – or lay on its side spanning a gap – that you can then hang from. That is truss that is square or rectangular in shape that has diagonal runs going all the way up the sides and every so often a diagonal ‘chord’ running on the inside. Truss that is marked “antenna truss” is right out. It is meant to be used to stand up on end like a big radio or TV antenna and not laid on its side like you are using it. Any truss that is triangular in nature, or worse ‘flat’ – that is it looks like a ladder (Often called ‘two-dimensional truss’) – should just be passed over and left to engineers.

1. If a chain motor is holding the truss, how many people are on it? What are they rated for? How many are being used? Not all chain motors are the same. Chain motors aren’t made to handle dynamic loads. Generally speaking the gears holding that thing in the air when it is stopped aren’t made for you to be bouncing on them.  If it is being hung from a chain motor, is there a way to “dead hang” it once it is up in the air? That is, to haul it up and then tie it off or hang in on proper rigging steel cables so that the first line of defense against gravity is not those gear teeth that don’t like you jumping on them?

2. How is the truss assembled? Does anything look off? We showed up somewhere and found chain wrapped a few times (and unsecured) around the top section of truss then “reinforced” with 2 by 4’s!!! I’m not kidding. A more common mistake when untrained people assemble truss is that they don’t line up the diagonal webs of it. Check where two sections are attached together. Does that diagonal run along the side that makes the endless series of triangles continue unbroken? If so, great. If you are tracing it with your finger and see it go DOWN, UP, DOWN,… DOWN! UP right at the point where two sections are bolted together, then someone assembled the truss wrong. It is not as strong as it could be. Have them take it apart and flip a section so that pattern remains unbroken.

3. Can the truss handle the load the way it is set up? You just have to have common sense. Is there a 50 foot stick going across the room unsupported in the middle? (This just happened, for realz). If so, it won’t handle much in the middle. Find out who made it. Remember the people that make the truss are on your side! They want you to be safe as much as you do and so reputable manufacturer’s of truss often freely post what their stuff can handle – at least in big bold terms. Google is your friend.

4. Does the person who built the truss actually understand dynamic forces? Do they believe you when you say each aerialist can generate 1000 pounds of force? If they don’t or seem surprised by that fact, be nervous. Very nervous.

5. Even if you have sent your tech rider and told them what you need, find out if they actually read it or if the end person got that information. Many times it gets passed around, and never actually read.

6. Neatness counts! “I used to jump out of airplanes for a living and when I did there was a saying bantered about, “Tie your shoes properly or someone dies!” Now that seems like hyperbole if taken literally. What it was referring to was that there is a certain thorough tidiness to a good craftsman’s work. It reflects the idea that if someone takes the time and effort to manage the small things you can see quite easily, they are prone to doing that for all the big things they do as well. That comes from having the discipline to do the job right; something that is both rare and to be prized. Nowhere is this more relevant than with aerial work – either rigging or performing. So apply that to the truss you are about to trust. If you look up and see a truss that has been assembled carefully, the ropes and chains holding it have been coiled and dressed neatly, all the little details have been arranged systematically, and the space has been cleaned up lovingly, than breathe a little sigh of relief. “I cannot say the rigger who did that work knows what they are doing. I cannot even say everything will be fine. But I can say whoever did do that possesses a certain level of training and discipline on the small scale that will have significant effects on the fortitude and safety of your rig on the large scale. And in the end, that may make all the difference in the world.” – Bill Auld.


So there you have it from the horse’s mouth. Obviously, we have not covered all the possible outlandish scenarios here and may have forgotten an important point, so if you have a story of your own or something to add please share!

Dare to Imagine Safety!

Angela Attia

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Give Me Some ROOM! Space and Privacy on Tour

Posted by: on March 1, 2016
Our matching touring mugs! It says, "Do not even speak to me until I have finished this. Go away."

Our matching touring mugs! It says, “Do not even speak to me until I have finished this. Go away.”

On the road, you’re likely to be crammed into a van, tour bus, car, or RV with your new “family” – the (mostly) fantastic folks you get to spend the next few weeks or months getting to hate… er, know. Sanity Saver #1? Give folks their space, and carve out some privacy for yourself, before sh*t gets a little too real.

How Can We Possibly Maintain Any Sort of Privacy While Living and Performing on Top of One Another?

Weeeeeeell, I never said it was easy! You can always spot the newbies on tour – like friendly puppies, all bright smiles and eager faces (if they had tails, they’d wag them). It’s exciting! So many awesome people in one spot, so many cool places to see, AND you’re being paid to do what you love! So much winning!!!! And then, there are the touring vets. They’ve been there and done this. A lot. From day 1, you may notice that they are pleasant, but they don’t want to immediately be seat buddies and share their trail mix stash. Before you take it personally in any way, consider this:

You are going to be in close proximity to all these people for the duration of your tour. First impressions matter, and this is a professional job, not summer camp.

By all means be friendly, and certainly be yourself. That said, remember that those first twenty minutes can set the stage for everything that follows. Be on time, make sure you greet everyone, and keep everything professional for now (it will have plenty of time to get personal later – trust me).

The Honeymoon Period

The honeymoon period lasts for a few weeks, and then that cute thing Warren does with his nose ring is no longer cute – it’s kind of gross. Also? That girl with the screechy voice with no volume button who drinks too much Red Bull and cannot seem to speak below 85 decibels has got to go. Your roommate perpetually forgets to flush, and if you have to eat one more dinner of catered chicken piccata or tray of lukewarm pasta you’re going to go mad. With all the stresses of touring life, being considerate of others isn’t optional (unless Jerry Springer is what you’re going for). Some thoughts:

  • Manners matter. Always flush, leave some towels for the other person, never raid their food stash, etc.
  • Opposites? Negotiate! Everything is negotiable. For example, Angela and I are opposites when it comes to neatness (she would perhaps say anal-retentiveness) – I like things at right angles and travel with my clothes in coordinated ziplock bags; when she opens her suitcase, it explodes to the four corners of the room. Our solution? Halfsies! I was free to keep my half of the room as sterile as I wished, and she was free to explode on the other. Boom. Problem solved.
  • Never speak before coffee. A lot of arguments could be avoided that way.


The Long Haul – Shut Up.

Nuns have a policy of “custody of the eyes” (also very useful on tour). It’s when you keep your eyes to yourself (be conscious of what you allow yourself to see), and can be extended to ears, certainly hands, and voice. People need varying amounts of alone/quiet time, and not getting it can make them certifiably insane (or at least cranky). I’ve seen this work in lots of ways!

  • Shut up. No – really – shut up. If you’re a talker, this one can be a toughie! Allow for periods of silence or quiet time. Alone time is golden for introverts, so also consider going for a walk, stepping out for air or to talk on the phone, or taking a long shower.
  • Be a respecter of headphones or reading – it means they probably are not interested in chatting right now.
  • Not sure if your roomie/partner/cast mate needs space? Just ask!
  • Don’t take it personally. Everyone is so very, very different in their need for alone/quiet time/space. It has nothing (well, probably nothing) to do with you! But it does get really awkward when you assume it does, or if you try to punish the other person for not wanting to go out, chat, etc.
  • Allow for differences! On several tours we’ve been out on, the cast naturally found a great rhythm. It usually involved the folks who wanted to chat going to the green room, and the folks who wanted quiet staying in the dressing rooms.


The main take-away is to do your best to give others the space they need to do their jobs, keep their sanity, and maintain good relationships. Everything is negotiable, and manners matter! Now, go forth and bring circus to the masses! Dare to imagine, Laura


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