Q & A with Sarah Jean, intrepid performer currently on tour with Mermaid Theatre’s Treasured Stories by Eric Carle. Sarah Jean took the time to respond to some of my questions submitted by email. Here’s wishing you more unforgettable Cat-Man-level experiences as you continue life on the road! –Jason
Q: What activities or places do you seek out when you’re visiting a new place while on tour?
A: Being on tour you start to really know what things are important to you. And for me one of the important things is dancing. Before I left on tour, I took up swing dancing as a hobby, so swing dance events are one of those things I look for in cities across America. I’ve had some pretty good luck along the way, stumbling on great dance communities in all kinds of different cities. I’d have to say that my top two cities I’ve danced in so far are New Orleans and Austin. New Orleans because there were so many great bars with live music where dancers would congregate, and Austin because I found out about a Ninja themed coffee shop that had blues dancing every Friday night. It was totally weird and totally cool.
Q: What’s your favourite—not necessarily the most useful—piece of technology on the road? (iPod, laptop, cell phone, e-reader, etc…)
A: My iPod is definitely my favourite piece of technology on the road. I use it way more than I ever do at home. I’ll often listen to music as a way to unwind backstage between shows. And the iPod is a crucial part of the “Sarah Jean”, which is the term coined by Dan to describe my usual van nap, sitting up in the back seat, with a neck pillow.
Q: If you have only a single day off in a week, how do you like to spend it?
A: Hands down my favourite way to start a day off is by sleeping until I wake. No alarms allowed! I have never been a morning person, and as it turns out, there are a lot of early mornings in children’s theatre. As for the rest of the day, it really depends on the city we’re in. Sometimes there will be a museum I want to check out. But most of the time I’m really happy to walk around, get some fresh air, and check out little shops in the area. Especially book stores and tea shops.
Q: How long can you be away before you start feeling homesick?
A: For me, the longer I’m gone the less likely I am to feel homesick. I’m most homesick right after leaving home, so right after Christmas hiatus was probably the worst time for me in terms of homesickness. Which is not to say that I don’t get homesick from time to time, but I think that the first adjustment to being away from friends and family is the hardest for me.
Q: What are one or two of the coolest or most interesting things you’ve been able to see as a result of your Mermaid touring?
A: The Cat Man! Ok so, the Cat Man is probably one of the craziest street performances I’ve ever seen, and it all happens in Key West. We had a show in the Upper Keys so of course decided to make the two hour drive down to Key West for the day to see what there was to see. And there were a lot of really great things about Key West, but the strangest, most awesome one is the Cat Man. He performs in Mallory Square, and his show centers on his trained cats doing tricks. But they’re cats, not dogs, so they frequently run off, and he is forced to chase them back.
The cats walk tight ropes, jump through hoops, and even jump over other cats or through hoops to land on the tight rope. Plus the cat man has created this crazy persona for himself. He’s got a thick accent and mutters all sorts of strange phrases during the show. To the point where you start to wonder, is this a character or the way this guy actually is? Until of course the moment he pulls a person out of the audience to help him and breaks character for a split second. Which makes it so much more awesome to watch, because from that point on you’re sure that this is a finely crafted, albeit crazy character he has created for himself. By far the most memorable street performance I have ever seen. And he’s a key West institution, so if you ever find yourself in Mallory Square, check it out for yourself!