Jennifer Ward-Lealand takes a bit of home with her, wherever she goes.
I've spent a good part of the past 15 years touring New Zealand (and latterly, Australia) with various shows and it's been a wonderful way to see the country. One of the best things has been getting to work in so many beautiful theatres, some of which are so obviously loved and cared for by community groups. I can't tell you how many times I've wished that we could magically whisk a venue back to Auckland because it's the perfect size or ambience.
When you're on the road and performing, it is important to keep rested and refreshed for the show — not always easy if you're in town and in a new bed for only the one night. I'm a creature of habit so I always take a bit of home with me wherever I go. I love a list and it has everything from special teas to an eye mask to fresh lemons and root ginger for my morning drink. I also pack my own breakfast ingredients because otherwise, you end up eating out, which wears a bit thin and is not always the food you would normally eat.
If the theatre company I'm with is in town for a few days we inevitably go out for a "family outing" to a local landmark and always have a celebratory meal at the end of the season. What is lovely in smaller towns around the country is that you'll be greeted by someone who was in the audience the night before.
By far the best thing about touring is catching up with old friends. On my tour to Australia last year with Falling in Love Again, I caught up with one friend, in Bendigo, after 25 years, and another in Sydney, after 34 years.
What I've learned from touring is to always, always count the bags when you're leaving the airport or exiting the van. The double bass isn't easy to miss but the smaller makeup bag or wig bag needs a special eye kept on it.
Jennifer Ward-Lealand stars in Auckland Theatre Company's season of Six Degrees of Separation, on at the ASB Waterfront Theatre, August 14-29. atc.co.nz