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Chris Grady: The art of theatrical flirting

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I am coming to realise that much of my life revolves around flirting and dating - whether doing it or teaching it. It seems to be central to all aspects of theatre.

I've just had a conversation with an agent about a young actor who thought they'd been invited to join the agency by the boss, and they were being respectful and waiting until the appropriate time to invite him to their next show, so they could formally sign. The agent then decided not to take the actor on because, as he had not been in touch, he'd got less interested in them.

Had that actor continued the wooing dance they would now have an agent, but because they had not wanted to hassle the busy and important agent, they lost out. A salutary lesson to me when talking to actors - some agents need a lot more wooing than others.

In another part of my life I am teaching fundraising and sponsorship to emerging cultural leaders. Here too it's a matter of finding the perfect match, wooing, attracting them to you, doing a dance and hopefully ending up with a long-term relationship rather than a one night stand.

And at my surgeries for emerging creative companies, directors and producers we talk a lot about the people you know, how to get a meeting by finding the right ways to get them interested in you, how to ask the right questions if you get a date, and then how to forge a marriage between creatives so that a little bouncing baby project is born.

And finally I have worked for 30 years in arts marketing where our job is to woo the audience into coming on a blind date with us by putting up the most effective profile which shows all our talents, but doesn't give too much away. Build the expectation for a date with us on our night out where we provide the entertainment and you are the willing participant in yet another dance of delight.

So whether you are an actor, an agent, a fundraiser, a creative, a marketeer or a member of the audience you are part of a ritual as old as life itself. I hope we all continue to learn the lessons, and enjoy many happy relationships.


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