21st June 2021
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Tour Journal: The Kurios Road

Tour Journal
By Shmem Geddes

In January, I packed up my many bags and said good-bye to Dubai to go back out on tour as head of automation with Cirque du Soleil’s Kurios. I was to join the tour in Tokyo, the first city of the Japan schedule. This meant that I had to do the visa run beforehand. Whilst the UK Japanese embassy is located in London, there is a consulate in Edinburgh so I didn’t have to do the long schlep down south to get that sorted.

This is a good reminder that you should always check for both embassies and consulates and the services they provide. It was far easier and cheaper for me to take the hour-long train ride from Glasgow to Edinburgh than the five hour one to London!

It took about a week from handing in my passport to have it approved and issued, so about a week later, I went back through to pick it up again. Eighteen hours after picking up my passport with my fresh Japanese visa firmly ensconced within its pages, I was on a flight to Tokyo. Luckily, I had pre-packed my tour luggage about a week beforehand. Yes, I flew business class because yes, I was overweight on my luggage (read my article “Living the High Life” for more information on that subject). Also, travel to and from your destination is sometimes covered by your production company, so always be sure to check and keep any receipts for taxis, trains, and all those good things, so you can claim them back.

I hit the ground running, literally. After landing at 9:45 I was on the Narita Express train heading for Tokyo Central by 10:45 and was on site for 13:30 after a pit stop to drop my bags off at the lodgings. This was not a requirement, by any means but as I am familiar with Tokyo and the set-up here with Cirque, I thought I’d show willing and pop into work for a while. Often times if you’re joining a show from a long distance location you have at least a day to rest and try to get over your jet lag or at least have a little breathing time.

The days following my arrival were spent settling in, getting necessary admin work done, and merely observing day-to-day operations. Joining a new show can be overwhelming, especially if you’ve travelled to meet it, so it’s worth taking the time to get acquainted with everything before you get fully stuck into work. A few days later was dress rehearsal day. That meant it was time for the Shinto ceremony.

This is a tradition that brings good fortune and prosperity to the show during the city run and is performed by Shinto Monks and involves a lot of clapping.

This usually happens before the final dress rehearsal. I finally got to see my new baby in all its glory that night and I was excited to be able to take the helm on such a charming show. The following day it was time for the Premiere. There is always a good mix of nervous excitement on Premiere night. That, and an excellent meal prepared by our fantastic kitchen! I also got to say hello to TheatreArtLife’s very own Ashley Sutherland-Winch that night, who graced us with her presence.

The day after Premiere was a welcome day off filled with brunch with new friends, laundry time, and a nana nap.

With the new week I started to learn the console and all that comes with it. Training sessions, validations galore and of course, running the show. It’s important to spend the time learning as much as you can about your kit and how it integrates into the show as well as just learning how to push buttons. When you understand the broader picture it’s easier to know how to deal with “off script” situations both during and outside of the show.

Once I’d learned the show, learning to be an HOD came next. There is a large amount of administration work that comes with the position. This is the side of the job that you can’t really get much experience of, unless you cover interim HOD or something similar. And, at least for me, this is one of the hardest parts of the job. Just when you think you’ve figured things out, something else lands in your inbox or on your desk that makes you go “How do I deal with that?”

I’m now two months into the job and while I’m still learning, it doesn’t seem as overwhelming as when I first started. I’m sure there will be bumps in the road but for now we have a week long dark and I’m going to not think about what’s ahead but rather enjoy this chance at some R&R….. in Hawaii. Mahalo!

Also by Shmem Geddes:

Cross Training: Bridging The Gaps

Creatures Of Habit: What Is Your Show Ritual?

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