Optional clothing & the potential of an open space

In Features, Inspiring people, Musicals, Opinion by Chris GradyLeave a Comment

I seem to have had a couple of weeks of creating and being in spaces where extraordinary and unexpected things can happen. Teaching, facilitating technically futurist workshops, and workshops on being a director, and finally we all celebrated Hair in a first clothing optional performance. Quite a week.

Two weeks ago I was with inspiring young undergrads in Ayr at the University of the West of Scotland as they looked out into the real world and the chance to realise their ambitions. Last week I opened space for Kings College London to bring together academics, technical visionary experts of the silicon roundabout variety, and artists seeking to work at the edges of known technologies. In the space of two hours a mass of new connections happened and, I hope, some wonderful ideas which may through research and development change the ways in which arts and technology co-operate and generate new cultural businesses in the future. Friday last was a chance to share ideas for career paths and navigation with the next generation of theatremakers at Theatrecraft – a cross between freshers and careers fair, it was great to see such an array of theatre schools, conservatoires, and on the job training opportunities displayed for the non-acting routes into the business.

Then a quick trip to Edinburgh to continue explorations of CGO and Authentic Artists (Scotland). The moon over Blackness castle will stay in this outlander’s sassenach memory for many months.

And then it was the annual trip to the World Travel Market where I visited Peru, Senegal, Malaysia, Scotland, China and some technological wizzy companies to wonder at how culture and arts ecology may evolve. It is exactly a year since the US election left the standholders at WTM lost for words across the American stands. Quite a year of walking backwards in terms of global connections, collaborations, peace and harmony.

It was fascinating to see how so many standholders seem to only think of tourism as castles and hotels and natural world. When asked about their cultural offer through theatre or music or poetry they seem non-plussed that any delegate to the exhibition may be interested. It is also really noticeable the standholders who are energized and engaging with passers by to the bitter end of this gruelling 3 day event. One wonderful hotelier was absolutely on it, and I am sure that in time I will travel to her island and her hotel. [I will add her details to this blog when I go through my files]

Then this Friday I was opening space for 40 theatre directors associated with the Young Vic Theatre to explore resilience and failure. We had 4 hours to make connections of shared challenges, and understand some reframing of experiences and recovery and resilience resources which could help the often solitary and lonely challenge of being a freelance director. There was so much passion, so much mutual respect and support, and so many great ideas. My thanks to directors Liz Bacon and Katherine Nesbitt for working with Sue Emmas the amazing Associate Director of the Young Vic and for inviting me for my third Young Vic workshop facilitation. A pleasure to share many of the ideas which are in “Your Life in Theatre” and the “Anatomy of your Creativity” which I am quietly chuffed to keep hearing people find useful. Maybe I should get out and market them a bit more. Maybe you dear reader could give them a quick plug.

If the Young Vic allowed us to lay bare our failures, the Vaults and the amazing company of Hair allowed us to lay bare our outer selves as I led the process of creating the first clothing optional performance of a West End show. Saturday’s 10pm special performance was packed and the atmosphere was fantastically buzzy and a pleasure to have instigated. An audience of regular naturists, curious theatregoers, artists and spiritual practitioners, life models and Hair afficianados came together to get their kit off way ahead of the electric cast of this Manchester revival and London transfer from the Hope Mills Theatre. People had travelled from Somerset, Manchester, Germany and all over the South East to be there for a “first”. And I hope this is the dawning of many more opportunities for audiences to explore with artists how they choose to reveal their bodies through life, performance and art.

Its been quite a week, and as always it is a pleasure to share my experiences through this blog. Now my focus must be on getting ready for the arrival of 22 Chinese theatre producers for a week of factfinding around new work and theatremaking in London.  All this alongside working with our 12 Creative Producers on the MA at Mountview as they develop their careers and connections here as well as in India, Peru, USA, Greece and Spain this year.

Until next time.

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Chris Grady
Chris Grady is a creative and business life coach who has worked in arts and project management for more than 30 years, running marketing departments and creating festivals and theatres in Bristol, Plymouth, Edinburgh, Buxton, Keswick, London and Bury St Edmonds. He has also run the Vivian Ellis Prize for new musicals, and written Your Life in Theatre, a careers guide for all stages of your career. He is preparing an MA for Theatre Producers with Mountview Academy for Theatre Arts. Chris blogs about arts management at www.chrisgrady.org.
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Chris Grady on RssChris Grady on Twitter
Chris Grady
Chris Grady is a creative and business life coach who has worked in arts and project management for more than 30 years, running marketing departments and creating festivals and theatres in Bristol, Plymouth, Edinburgh, Buxton, Keswick, London and Bury St Edmonds. He has also run the Vivian Ellis Prize for new musicals, and written Your Life in Theatre, a careers guide for all stages of your career. He is preparing an MA for Theatre Producers with Mountview Academy for Theatre Arts. Chris blogs about arts management at www.chrisgrady.org.

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