Image credit: Futt Futt Futt Photography
For people who wish to make some form of career from theatre touring seems to be the easiest way to show their work. Rachael Walton has been in the industry since the 90’s after founding Third Angel with Alex Kelly – “We just wanted to make work together.” Walton and Houston first made it with a 72-hour show set in an office block.
“This was in the days before streaming” Walton reminisced “We prepared our own video, asked shops to show it on their TV’s and begged and borrowed to make the show happen”. It turned out to be a success and the pair even received national coverage for it!
As Third Angel turns 20 this year I had to ask about the secret behind their success. “Tenacity”, she began, “You’ve got to have a certain amount of drive. It’s also important to know about business and have knowledge outside of theatre – lot of my time is spent…administratively”.
She said with a chuckle to prove her point. “The money isn’t always going to be there so we’ve learnt to be adaptable and flexible.” A willingness to listen, and hear what people are saying was also an important factor Walton was keen to push. She also mentioned that “future planning and building/developing relationships with venues and networking” has also played an important part in their sustenance.
I was keen to ask what she felt about the state of touring now compared to then: “Young companies now have it tougher than we did starting out, but the [low budget, high impact] way of doing theatre was still around. There is a display of much more entrepreneurship and the need to be more inventive in how to show your work…which is why it’s a lot harder.”
As for hints and tips on touring?
Make sure that there’s a market for your work/project and always take time and talk to marketing department
“They will be promoting you so be sure to meet with them and tell them everything they need to know so they can support you the best they can.”
Treat venues well
“A warm handshake and a thank you with a smile will never get you in the wrong place.” It’s not breaking news that funding is also a lot tighter for venues these days! “There is a tendency now for venues to not take risks and they plan months in advance – so it’s good to make a good impression. Remember that the people working for you in each venue (technical/lighting managers etc) are experts in their venue so treat staff with respect. “
Consider the logistics and plan plan plan! (have a plan B too!)
Talking about their own approach to logistics – Walton emphasised the need to think about everything and being cost effective.
“Logistics varies from show to show. We tour with a technical manager who project manages whilst we’re on the road. We also have an intern who helps with general stuff”.
When it comes to conventional, small-sale touring, “there’s more to think of like travel and moving the set and props. Then someone has to organise where people will be staying. Booking things in advance and opting to stay with friends keeps over a hotel helps keep costs as low as possible.”
“Have a good risk assessment in place too. They may seem like a waste of time but it shows professionalism.”
“When you’re touring – a lot of time is taken up by the day to day things; but a theatre company still needs to be run. The rest of the world doesn’t stop when you’re touring – especially if you have financial and personal responsibilities.”
There is also the realistic approach on a practical side to consider also. “It’s about balancing your budgets, time and the abilities of the people working with/for you & knowing what they can and can’t do…You wouldn’t want to do four one nighters in a row, for example…” she continued “Booking to perform in Newcastle one day and Brighton the next – it won’t work.
Likewise, don’t have too much time between shows because you have to sustain your performers.”
Find out more on Third Angel’s website.