Our Time and Space artist-in-residence Rowena Gander offers us her reflections on as a day in the life of a touring solo artist, whilst touring her solo show ‘Barely Visible’ nationally for the second time.
Welcome to this blog/vlog where I will use my recent experience of touring Barely Visible to Jacksons Lane, London, to tell you about how I structure my day as a touring solo artist. I split my day into three parts – pre-show routine, get to and in venue, and post-show. The time each strand takes is often dependent on distance to each venue, therefore, everything below is variable, apart from my pre-show routine. I like to do my pre-show routine as early as possible because it is my secret weapon of calm — I know that the calmer I feel and the more connected I am to my breath, the more confident and secure I will feel in performance, later.
- Wake up around 7:30am, a bit later than usual 6am, as I need to stay awake later.
- Drink coffee
- 45-minute cardio and stretch. For instance, 30 minutes moderate intensity on the cross trainer and some light mobility work. This is more to reduce the potential of anxiety than anything else, though it is a great pre-warm up to my warmup later in the day.
- Two-minute cold shower or bath – cold therapy helps with muscle recovery, inflammation, and is a great way to bring full focus to breath. All the above benefits reduce any anxiety I might have had for the show.
- 20-minute visualisation of the full-length show, whilst lying on an acupuncture mat. As Barely Visible is so upper body intensive, I like to fully release the muscles in my back and I do this with this amazing acupuncture mat. Whilst I lie on the mat, I visualise a full run through of the show at double speed. Visualization is proven to be as effective as running the show fully, which I will do later in tech.
- Eat breakfast. This is usually porridge, chia seeds, fruit, and a bit of dark chocolate.
- Get dressed to go.
Get to and in venue
- Pack car with pole, check I have costume, food, money, and water.
- Pick a member of the creative team up – in this case, it was Elinor Randle, my show director, but sometimes it is Phil, lighting / sound technician, if he is not carrying his own heavy equipment in his own car.
- Input venue location to Google Maps and Drive to venue – It was around 4 hours to Jacksons Lane from Liverpool. We had one stop to stretch our legs and eat lunch.
- Arrive at Venue between 2-3pm, unload pole, say hello to venue staff and technicians, set up pole in space to find its position on stage.
- Go to dressing room and unpack costume etc.
- Warm up again –always needed after the longer drives.
- Plot lights with phil.
- Run through the show around two hours before actual show time – floors are different in every venue, so I like to do a proper run through to feel like I know the space.
- Get a shower, get changed, clean pole, make sure everything is in check for show.
- Do makeup – I wear quite a thick layer of foundation for this show to help dirt and lipstick grip to my face.
- Listen to pre-show songs.
- Take a deep breath.
- Show time.
- Quickly shower, or if no shower available at venue, use sink and wipes to clean the show off me – you will understand why when you see it. Plus, it is physical work — I don’t lie when I say that pole is heavy.
- Post-show Q&A – As part of this tour, myself and director, Elinor Randle, are having conversations with audiences after every show. This has been so valuable, with such rich information shared.
- Pack pole away.
- Quick drink with team – I had the pleasure of catching up with videographer and her partner at this tour date. I am excited to see her recording of the show.
- Find hotel, which I usually book close to venue for ease.
- Eat dinner. I often take my own food in case nothing is open when we leave the venue.
- Wake up and drive home.
- Wash everything and reset my bag for the next show.
I am always so curious about the routines and habits of other artists, so I hope you find much value in this blog and that it encourages you to fine tune, or even curate your own rituals / routines for your artistic work.
Thank you to Arts Council England for the funding this project and to Physical Fest, Tmesis Theatre, 24 Hope Street, and Metal for ongoing support.