A tour manager's perspective: Louisa Dales
In this second of our series of blog posts from members of the CAST 2016 company, tour manager Louisa Dales writes about what CAST means to her.
Tour Managing CAST
It was the best part of a year ago now when Josie and I met for coffee to discuss whether we wanted to apply together to tour manage CAST 2016. We didn't know each other particularly well, but nonetheless we agreed it would be a great project to embark on together, and we applied and were given the tour. Josie had been on CAST the year before, but neither of us knew quite what was in store for us in the upcoming year. Despite being a student theatre tour, CAST often feels like you're running a business, because there is so much to do, especially when you're studying for a degree alongside it all. We are a university society, but they entrust the running of the tour entirely to the tour managers - if we don't book the flights, the tour doesn't go! Therefore, there has not been a day since November that I have not thought about CAST for at least five minutes, because there is so much to get done.
We were eager this year to expand the tour and add in new venues, as the process of assembling the tour itinerary is much more exciting when you're able to leave your own mark on it, so it doesn't just feel like you're repeating what the tour has done in previous years. The most ambitious addition to the tour this year is our visit to the Cayman Islands, not only because we are adding in an additional country, but because we have so many performances. I can't wait to be able to show a whole new group of people the production that has been so carefully crafted by our production team and our actors.
We have spent the month before we leave for Cayman in Cambridge, preparing the show. For the actors and directors, this has meant 9-5 rehearsals most days, often in the gardens of Homerton College where we've been staying, which has been absolutely beautiful. Our production team have spent the weeks building a portable set, designing our lights and costume, and planning the education workshops that are such a crucial part of our tour, and one of the main reasons I think CAST is such a great opportunity. For me and Josie, the time has been spent visiting possibly every cafe in Cambridge for hours and hours of caffeine-fuelled tour planning! Planning a tour on this scale means keeping in regular contact with our 12 venues, as we organise everything from performance details down to lunch plans, to ensure that we don't get caught out whilst on tour. As our time in Cambridge draws to a close, we run a number of education training days with the entire company to make sure they are all ready to run the workshops, and we have our crucial packing day to make sure everything fits before we fly!
I am so grateful for the opportunity that CAST has given me, and I know the rest of the company feel a similar way. We all contribute financially to come on CAST because it is such a great experience, and for many of us it is preparing us for the future, as CAST is often full of students with goals to work in theatre or the entertainment industry. I am really hoping to forge a career in film and television production, and having the experience of running CAST is invaluable in terms of the skills and abilities it has given me. It has been brilliant to work so independently alongside Josie to create something on this scale, and I know I will treasure my time spent on CAST in years to come. I cannot wait to set off on Thursday for what may well be the most exciting month of my life to date, and I am so thrilled that Cayman will be our first stop!