From the top of the North to the bottom of the South, one big long family road trip!

6am and the alarm goes off. It’s the first day of the Songs of the Sea tour and Capital E’s National Theatre for Children performance team are getting ready for their South Island New Zealand adventure to start. The Tour Manager picks up the touring team of actors and crew before hitting the road heading to the first destination: Christchurch – we have a long day ahead!

We arrive at the Interislander terminal just in time to check in and begin queuing for the ferry. Once on board, it’s a quick dash upstairs to the café to get a window seat where we rendezvous with our truck driver who is already sitting with coffee in hand, having boarded the ship earlier with our truck carrying the set, lighting, sound, props and costumes (along with every other little incidental required to ensure the show can go on no matter what).

Three and a half hours pass and we arrive in Picton to begin our trek down the country to Christchurch. Loud music, lots of snacks, coffee and toilet breaks are all necessary parts of the 6.5-hour drive. It’s 9:00pm when we finally arrive in Christchurch, the Tour Manager checks into our accommodation and assigns everyone their rooms. Keys in hand we quickly unload our suitcases, unpack, and then relax with a cup of tea before curling up in bed in preparation for the day that follows.

The next day begins at 7:30am – it’s time to pack in! At the venue, we are greeted by a friendly venue technician who gives us our health and safety briefing. Closely following this it’s time to unpack the truck, lay the dance floor and bring in the lighting bars. It’s a full company effort to set up the lighting, sound, set, props, dressing rooms and front of house in preparation for the following days shows. By lunchtime, all going well, the majority of the work is complete so some members are free to go exploring the town and its little hidden secrets. Some of the crew stay behind to focus the lighting. An elevated work platform is used to ensure all the lighting units are pointing where they need to be pointing. After focus is complete, a few lighting states are tested to ensure everything looks as it should and then it’s time to call it a day.

The next morning we’re up at 6:30am, it’s show day! We arrive at the theatre for the 8:00am call time ahead of our first show in Christchurch. The usual checks are done to ensure the sound and lights are in tip top condition for our audience. We have a mic check then we scuttle off to do our warm-ups as the first audience is seated. The audience response to Songs of the Sea is fantastic, it’s great to perform for small children as their responses are so immediate and enthusiastic! After the show we have a bit of a break while the audience leaves, then a fast clean up to reset the stage for our second audience of the day. Phew, two shows down! We’re pretty stoked to see that 657 children got to see our show, and many of them not seen a theatre show before. The show is packed up, everything we put up yesterday now needs to come down, be disassembled, folded, bagged, bubble wrapped, and then loaded into the truck ready for our next venue.

Back to the accommodation via the supermarket for the makings of a company potluck meal, then some time to explore the city if we have the energy. An early night is needed so that we are ready to do the whole thing again tomorrow – see you soon Timaru!

Quick Facts

The Touring Team consists of

  • Tour Manager
  • Stage Manager
  • Technician
  • Cast of up to four Actors

The Capital E National Theatre for Children can be on the road with a single show for up to three months. Our Junior tour will visit approximately 21 centres across the country