The Road and its Reality

I call my Minneapolis apartment the most expensive storage unit in the upper Midwest.  In an average year, I spend 20 to 30 weeks away.  For me, as a TA and a theater artist, to work means to travel.  I made a conscious decision, about 20 years ago, that if I was going to have a full time career as a TA and theater artist, it meant traveling.  Many of us are faced with these kinds of decisions – because of location, the economy, supply and demand, etc. etc. etc.

The first thing I needed to embrace is the time spent in the car. I don’t view “car time” as wasted time.  My necessary travel companions are the GPS, cell phone (only used at rest stops), digital recording device, iPod with speakers, and my Kindle with audio for audio books.  I keep my digital recorder mounted on the dashboard for recording reminders, journaling, and most importantly, recording and working through new lessons or residency ideas.  Downloaded audio are a great way to use car time to get caught up on podcasts of new information, journal articles, books, etc.  I have safely done the “required reading and note taking” for a Masters Degree, in my car, using a digital recorder and audio books.  Don’t do this in heavy traffic or city driving.  The wide open space of I94 between Fargo and Bismarck, ND and I90 between Sioux Falls and the Badlands in SD were my audio reading rooms.

I bring artistic work with me.  Time alone and away from the day to day allows rehearsal and practice time, writing time, painting time, time to cultivate new ideas and time to experiment with ideas.  As a theater director, I can’t bring my cast with me but I can do my script work, etc.  Some of my best concepts for shows have come while I was on the road.

Technology is a wonderful thing.  My laptop, netbook, and portable printer mean that I have my office with me at all times. 

I prefer to stay in my “own space” such as hotel, motel, etc.  Other teaching artists I know prefer to stay with a family.  Some of us need to relate to other people when we leave school for the day; others, like me, prefer to have down time and work time.  It all depends on your own personal preference.  My advice to those new to “being in residency – away from home” would be find out what your preference is and then don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. 

Food and nutrition can become a big issue when you are always traveling.  School lunch and restaurant food can take its toll – money wise and health wise.  I have a small tote in which I pack my cooking and dining utensils, a press pot and mini electric frying pan; I call it my “portable kitchen”.  I also include a lunch bag, commuter cup, and storage containers, so that I can take my own healthy lunch to school.  My first stop after checking into the hotel is the grocery store. 

Whether you travel across country, across the state or across town – take care of yourself.  Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need, so that you can be your best for the learners.

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