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Chris Grady: Chance encounters - and getting to 'yes'

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I love it when I end up in an unexpected place, with unexpected people, and the universe offers me something to help me in the future.  It happens so often to me that I wonder whether I am either very lucky, or I am practicing what I preach which is, in open space terms, “be prepared to be surprised”.

On Sunday I was due to have a lovely relaxing afternoon and evening with Kath. I’d got it all planned. And then out of the blue she gets an invitation to read an unknown play in a small reading to support an emerging director get her head around a text before pitching for funding.  So I had two options… have a lovely relaxing evening alone, or get my stuff together and head over to a flat in Stoke Newington and listen to some play thing.

Well, you’ve guessed it, I did the thing.  We arrived for a delicious dinner in a tiny apartment in Stoke Newington created by actress and host Loren O’Dair www.lorenodair.co.uk with whom I’d worked on Dick Turpin where she delighted with her Black Bess. After dinner with 5 actors the scripts were distributed and a rather surreal and unexpected play unfolded.   There’s something special about being in a tiny flat and being asked to consider a play which may end up in full production. This wasn’t a new work, but rather the re-exploration of a piece which had been high profile in a major producing house in the 90s. Why did it work then?  Could it work today? Is it reliant on stars to carry it? Will the voices around this dinner table do it justice for the director? Fascinating way to see theatre.

Chance encounter 1:  one of the actors was at RADA with my son, seemed perfect for speaking classic dense text, and I was able to recommend her to a senior director colleague working on restoring the repertoire of plays from the Georgian period.  Hope they end up working together.

Then for two days this week I went to an inspiring course in Birmingham for myself – a chance to review how I live and work. How I relate to others and understand myself. And how to set goals for myself to realise what I want. “If you think you can or you think you can’t you’re probably right…” Henry Ford.  I pay tribute to Richard Jackson, the inspired creator of the winning edge programme www.mancroftinternational.com. I have never written so many notes, thought so hard about myself, or reached so many very simple realisations. Thank you Richard

Chance encounter 2:  one of my co-students works at a senior level in a major telecoms company and when I shared my vision for StoryMusic2020 (see www.chrisgrady.org/storymusic2020 ) and my challenge to enable 197 nations to talk to each other, and compose/create together, he knew just the man to approach to get some advice and possible involvement. 

So, for me, the last few days have been about taking chance encounters and making them work.  I’ve just come off skype with a director based in Latvia and London exploring how to raise money for her new show – and whilst we were talking I thought I’d google ideas for the show and try to find companies in Riga who might have a few bob to spare.  First random word search generated a major international company based in the city doing exactly the technological design idea she needs to make her show extra-ordinary. I hope they are as excited by her vision, as I was in finding this design company.

If you are trying to create a show, or develop any new project in life, think laterally, create chance encounters, and then be strong enough to believe that this stranger may be interested in you.  They have three choices of reaction – yes, no or ignoring you. If you don’t ask advice, you sure as heck won’t get to “yes”.

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