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On Surviving Working Out-of-Town

November 12, 2012

As actors, one of the most exciting and sometimes most challenging parts of our work is how often we have to leave town for an extended period of time. I love going new places and becoming a part of the fabric of the community for a couple of months — Burlington, VT and Sag Harbor, NY are two places I’ve lived and worked temporarily that will always have a special place in my heart because of it.

But even though I’m extraordinarily grateful for the work and very much enjoy visiting new places, I do find it tough at times to be away from home. You see, I love my home. I love New York City, I love the cozy and beautiful apartment we’ve created, I love my sweet little Yorkie, and I love my husband most of all.

When I’m working out of town, I vacillate between feelings of pure joy for being a working actor and feelings of sadness and loneliness for being away from my home. I’ve often blamed a big chunk of it on being married (for wouldn’t it be much easier to leave home if your partner wasn’t there?), but upon talking about this with one of my older and wiser castmates last night, she noted that even if you aren’t married, you are always struggling to leave something behind, whether it be your close friends, your home base, or family issues. This, not surprisingly, was actually very comforting to me, to find out that everyone struggles with these feelings, because a lot of actors do a really good job of hiding it.

So, on my fourth stint of working away from home for an extended period of time, I find myself wondering what I can do to make it better. Sure, using facetime on my iphone helps me feel a lot more connected to my husband. When possible, I take my Yorkie with me on the road. And making sure that I get my morning dose of favorite coffee certainly helps, too. But can I be doing more?

What do you take with you when you’re working out-of-town that helps you feel at home? Do you have any strategies for coping with the occasional “away from home blues”? I am all ears!

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. The College Theatre Dork permalink
    November 12, 2012 9:56 am

    Hey Burlington! I’ve been there quite a few times.

    Well…I’ve lived in four different places so far this year: my old hometown, college, NYC and summerstock so I’ve made my way though New York State! I haven’t had the out-of-town blues yet, maybe because I haven’t established a permanent place yet?

    Still, I always take a few favorite books, a journal to write in and my big orange blanket. I make it home.

  2. The Reflective Artist permalink
    November 12, 2012 9:58 am

    Nail polish.

    I know: it sounds crazy. But I Love doing my nails. So if I’m traveling for extended period of time, I bring lots of nail polish with me so if I’m down or stressed, I do my nails and it perks me right up. During the run of a show, I’ll still do them (with a clear or skin tone polish).

    I think finding those little rituals that we find joy in and help establish the structure of our lives, if they can easily transfer to another location, they can be some of the most useful buffers. For some people this is a physical regimen, or journaling, or listening to a certain podcast, or even just reading. Or sometimes it’s a kind of food preparation–bringing your juicer along for your mornings, or an electric kettle for tea. Whatever can help you feel at home with yourself–those are the things that will keep you grounded and sane in a new environment, keep yourself familiar to yourself.

    I also bring a lot of earrings, because they can make every outfit you bring with you a new one.

  3. November 12, 2012 10:19 am

    I think you’re both right. More stuff, and more rituals from home would probably help. I discovered this week that playing my music was helpful, too. And I’m bringing my dog back with me tomorrow.

    Love that you paint your nails and bring lots of earring choices. That is why we get along — we are both intellectual primpers.

  4. The British Dancer permalink
    November 12, 2012 3:45 pm

    Being a married working actor myself, I feel your pain! 3 months in WI is a long time but there are a few things that make it all more bearable.
    Knowing when I’m next going to see my husband: Planned visits split up the time and give me something to look forward to.
    Framing a few photos of friends and family makes my room in the cast house seem much more homely (Some people are fully nesting and their rooms are full of books, non-flame candles, nick nacks and festive decorations!)
    Other than that, keeping busy is the main distraction and means we always have so many things to talk about on Skype!

  5. California Triple-Threat permalink
    November 12, 2012 4:36 pm

    I have a favorite candle with me right now in my guest house– the smell makes me think of home. Also, I almost constantly have some kind of noise going to keep from getting lonely, like re-runs of TV shows, or music playing. Being in frequent communication with friends and family helps too- thank goodness for text messaging!

    • November 12, 2012 8:06 pm

      Mmm I like your candle idea. And definitely need to plan on keeping more noise going, I found that my music helped a lot last week.

  6. The College Theatre Dork permalink
    November 12, 2012 11:09 pm

    I had to come back after I thought about it a little more: a new town isn’t “home” to me until I’ve found 3 very important places:

    1) the library. A library card is one of the first things I get when I move somewhere new.
    2) a pizza place. Not a chain one, like Pizza Hut but a local, small town pizzeria to frequent.
    3) the theatre!

    I really also like the candle idea…too bad I live in buildings with very sensitive smoke alarms!

  7. The Growing Artist permalink
    November 13, 2012 12:25 am

    It has been a while since I had the opportunity to travel out-of-town for a project. When I was younger, my Mom would travel with me, so I never really felt lonely. Now that I am older, it is a dream of mine to do more traveling. I would love to go on tour! I am really enjoying reading everyone’s suggestions and plan to apply them someday!

  8. November 13, 2012 1:14 pm

    I totally agree with all of these!!!! I am currently living “out-of-town” for what will be 11 months when this season is over. Luckily I have my car, a few friends and former professors relatively nearby, and can head home if I have a day or two off. I stand by changing my nail polish OFTEN, candles, reading, trying out new recipes, NETFLIX (like crazy), FaceTime, the gym, exploring the area, and using the theatre’s resources to gain new skills like volunteering to help with scenic charge and painting. My current project (since I ran out of Vampire Diaries episodes) is trying to pick up a new musical instrument!

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