I am a proud member of one of "those" families. My childhood photo albums are full of adventures in different locations all over the country and later, the world. I grew up in a very small town in a northern suburb of Saint Louis, Missouri. My father’s job came with the perk of traveling with clients and sometimes we would join him, so it became natural for all of us to want to explore the world outside the small town life. Later I would add my passion for theatre with my love of traveling. If there was a production I wanted to see, and I had the time off work, and had saved enough, I would book the tickets and see an amazing show and new city all at the same time.
The first time I realized that was slightly weird was when I saw the reactions of when I told people that. I went to see Deaf West's Spring Awakening at Inner City Arts in LA and seeing the reactions when I said I just flew in for the show and to see some tourist spots left a lasting impression on me. They were stunned and thankful for the support, but I was more thankful because I got to see Hollywood for the first time and return to my second home of "the theatre". No matter how many cities or different venues I see there is always that universal feeling of walking into the lobby and being ushered into the house. The feeling of seeing the stage for the first time and hearing the buzz of the audience is the same in every city.
Now it has not always been positive. I went on a short road trip up to my adoptive college town. I went to a very small college in northern Missouri on the boarder of Illinois about a two-hour drive from where I live now. The community theatre was producing an American Sign Language production and I am a sucker for #deaftalent and ASL on stage. I noticed the local university had put out fliers for their new interpreter program. A couple came up behind me and started talking about how it must be new because it wasn’t up there when they graduated.
Being the good midwestern I am I started a conversation saying I graduated the same year. We chatted and found a few people we knew in common. They even drove the same distance as me to get there. I thought I had found kindred spirits and fellow traveling theatre lovers, but my hope was dashed. He said "Yeah, but we have family up here and young kids that wanted to see it with us. We’re not , like, weird people who just travel and see shows all the time."
After the shock wore off I told them that I was a theatre critic from St. Louis who specializes in Deaf Theatre and just got back from my third trip to see Deaf West's Spring Awakening, which had made the move to Broadway. She said how wonderful that was and how she also likes to travel sometimes, realizing how deep his foot had just gone in his mouth. I enjoyed the show and keep checking in on social media to see if that theatre will do another ASL production. My social media is full of pages for out of town theatres I was told to keep an eye on or have personally visited. I often have to verify with the map on the page to figure out where the theatre is located. Theatre nerd problems, I know.
The feeling of exploring the world, but also being so close to a place a consider home is an amazing feeling I wish everyone could experience. Finding a theatre fan in a new location is like meeting a new member of the family. I keep a map with a pin in the places I have been and plan on seeing soon, it is a beautiful reminder of my life goals also. Please, if you can make it work, plan one big crazy trip and see a show in a new town.
I know traveling is not for everyone. It is expensive and taking time away from work or family obligations does not make it easy. But if you want to and can afford it, the benefits and theatre can be amazing. I make traveling a priority when it comes to savings and only go when I hit a certain point on my budget. Loyalty programs are also helpful and often lead to great deals. Lots of theatres offer discounted tickets so follow their social media or just check in with their website for box office information.
I have three trips this year planned and one is happening very soon! Broadway Con 2018 starting January 26th and going until January 28th. I’ll be tweeting and posting pictures as much as I can and may work on daily wrap-ups. Watch for #onstagebwaycon on Twitter and Instagram.