Our last blog was published December 11, 2014. A reminder, perhaps, of just how busy we’ve been. This is a great problem to have in theatre. We are approaching our 4th birthday on June 14th – our theatre company is entering Junior Kindergarten. Sheesh, I honestly could not have predicted that we would still be touring, that we’d have new shows in the works, and that we would have seen more of Canada than the average Canuck. But lately, as things have been getting busier, I’ve felt distracted. Stressed. Lately I have been guilty of forgetting to take a beat and reflect on this thing we’ve made.
Earlier this week, Leah and I were visiting some friends. Their daughter Rowan noticed a tattoo on my arm of the Theatre of the Beat van. It’s a rendering our friend and designer Landon Wideman created, a cross between a Westfalia bus and Scooby-Doo’s Dream Machine. Something fun to represent life on the road, which for us, is spent cooped up in a minivan.
Rowan asked, “Is that a van tattoo?” In a voice that insinuated the silliness of this decision. “Wow.” She said, now filled with disbelief. “You must really like vans.”
This past month we put 9,000kms on the ol’ Beat Mobile (a ’07 Grand Caravan, not a VW bus unfortunately) while driving out West to perform “A Bicycle Built for Two” in Winnipeg, Vancouver, Abbotsford, Calgary, and Edmonton. We were very grateful for Mennonite Foundation of Canada‘s sponsorship because I often forget just how big Canada is – and more noticeably – just how long it can take to drive across it.
To put it all in perspective, here’s a break down for you. It’s a 14 hour drive from Toronto to Minneapolis, another 8 hours to Winnipeg. We allot another 14 to Calgary, and then finish it up with another 13 to Vancouver. So yes, Rowan. I suppose I do like vans. I’d better, for how much time I spend in one.
But now we’re back. The van is parked, it’s vacuumed and it’s smelling slightly better. But it isn’t parked for long. We take off again next Wednesday for two weeks to the Ottawa Fringe Festival, and again in July to the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. All in a touring company’s work. But I’d like to think this past tour was special. It was the first time since 2013 that we had the original crew (save for our original SM Katie Cowie Redekopp) reunited on the road. Getting the gang back together made it clear that a lot has changed, but that meant there was a lot to catch up on – a lot to talk about. There was also a lot of stops to make, sites to see, trails to hike, meals to eat, and friends to visit. We found our +90 hours of driving passed fairly quickly.
But, in those low moments – when exhaustion set in, or a loved one back home was missed, or the coffee finally wore off after a seven-hour driving shift – one does have to remind themselves: our work is our passion, our co-workers our friends, our office is the trans-Canada surrounded by prairies, mountains, and coastlines.
Anyone can tell you that pursuing a life in the arts can be difficult. The money isn’t great. Planning tours is tiring. Touring is tiring. Writing upcoming shows from the backseat of a van is not recommended if you get car sick. But, there’s something magical about it all. Something romantic. And, somewhere outside of Langley, BC I felt inspired to try and trap these thoughts under my pen in the form of a poem (below). A reminder to myself. It’s entitled “Hosanna in the Headlights” and I’d like to think it’s an ode to travelling with the people I love, living a dream I never thought possible, and remembering just how much I truly love vans.