No matter how much planning goes into it, touring is all about rolling with the punches. It teaches you how to respond to the infamous uppercut of a phone call the night before you leave. The kind that informs you the Convent, where you’re supposed to be staying, over-booked itself and no longer has any vacancies.
Life on the road induces spontaneity: you either learn to dodge fate’s happy lil haymakers or find yourself lying flat on your back, bells ringing in your ears.
This past week, we participated in the “Moving Towards Wholeness” conference in Ottawa. The troupe performed “Forgiven/Forgotten” to wrap up a day filled with inspiring stories and highly informative workshops about ways of responding restoratively to victims, offenders, and community effected by crime. With keynote speaker Wilma Derksen, and workshops led by leading RJ professionals, we were all very excited.
However, while pulling into our nation’s capital, instead of mentally preparing for the conference, I was on the phone calling potential billets.
In a last minute crunch of contacting community members, friends of friends and local area Mennonites, Stephen Siemens (MCC Canada’s RJ Director) had found us a few families willing to take in 5 complete strangers on extremely short notice. Quickly I began phoning to verify addresses and figure out arrival times; I gotta say, there’s something strangely entertaining about phoning people you’ve never met before, introducing yourself as “the theatre troupe that needs a place to crash for two nights”.
Myself, Leah and Ben had the pleasure of staying with Monty (a retired policy writer, master’s student and avid gardener) and Patty (an painter, puppet maker and muffin-master). Aside from the fact that the Woodyard’s abode doubles as an art gallery and greenhouse, these hospitable billets were also draft dodgers from Georgia, so the conversations were as plentiful as the many salads, muffins, and granola feasts we “Gadflies” had the pleasure of partaking in.
Just a stones throw away, Becca and Kim stayed at the Bueckert residence. Joan, despite a confusing email correspondence that led her to believe the troupe no longer needed to stay with her, gladly took in the girls with only about 5 hours notice. Surprise! Her response was one of ice cream which, to all you future billets out there, always goes over well.
In the end, after a life giving conference, a fantastic audience, and great billets to return home to, our stay in Ottawa will be one punch we were happy to roll with.