Hearing Praise – and the privilege for arts workers

My book, “Your Life in Theatre”, is going out to reviewers and well connected people at the moment to gain some testimonials, reviews and feedback.  The first review came in at 5am on Saturday morning, just as I was ridding myself of lovely theta brainwave dreams, and preparing to get on a train to Crewe.

Excuse me blending four beautiful paragraphs into one blog para. These words from Stella Duffy made my heart:

Making theatre that is inspiring and accessible is hard. Writing a book that is inspiring and accessible is hard. Luckily Chris Grady has done the latter so we can do the former. Grady’s book is about being an artist and about being human and about how, ideally, our humanity feeds our art and our art feeds humanity. (And it’s way more practical than that sounds.) This is for when you are stuck or tired or astonished at how brilliantly it’s going, and terrified it’s all going to come crashing down around you. It’s about all of that and about making a difference with all of that.  Theatre, money, art, penury, love, marketing, passion, audiences, success, failure, mistakes, lucky breaks, despair, and joy. A full artistic life has them all – Chris Grady’s book tell us what to do with them. “  Stella Duffy

If this inspires you to read more of Stella’s writing then go to http://stelladuffy.wordpress.com/ and onward to all good bookshops. If it inspires you to want to read my book then email me chris [at] chrisgrady [dot] org to purchase direct, or go to Amazon/Kindle, or go to your local independent bookshop and suggest they order from me. I’m slowly reaching out to them.

You can imagine my journey to Crewe for a day of studying for my Personal Coaching Diploma was rather bright.  I then had the most wonderful day exploring how to tackle personally, and how to help clients consider, their essential values and some of the belief systems which we/they may have got stuck with consciously or unconsciously.  Why is it difficult for the Grady to accept praise and just say “thank you Stella”?  Why is it difficult to believe that people will pay real money to buy my book (see the last blog)?   These are things that could limit my own ability/willingness to market the heck out of my book.  Tell me the book is by Fred Bloggs, and there’s a great review by Stella Duffy, and there’s a special price you can get direct from the author at £9. Then the Grady marketing mind kicks in and I’m like a publicity officer in muck.

But even with my occasional stuckness, which I’m getting through as you can see from this blog, we are still privileged to be worker-bees in the arts.  In the arts when we make something and its good and/or enjoyed, more often than not we receive praise. Maybe its applause for a great performance, or critics saying nice things, or awards, blogs, tweets, likes, or celebrations with peers.

On my train journey back from my amazing Coaching Academy day led by the passionate and immensely inspiring Pam Lidford http://pamlidford.co.uk/ a colleague delegate and I were talking about respecting a workforce.  She works for a major international company with loads and loads of worker bees.  I was comparing the theatre to her factory, say.  At the end of a shift the customers in my world clap and applaud the workers. The workers bow and say thank you.  There’s an adrenelin rush which makes them forget their aches and pains, and makes them come back again and again to perform at their best. At the end of her workers’ shift they, I guess, breathe a sigh, clock out, and go home – rarely being reminded that their product may have made a particular customer feel good, better, wonderful.  I just wonder what would happen if a bunch of customers were invited to go into the worker bee factory and cheer, applaud, and celebrate the work that is being done to make the thing which the customer needs or wants. I bet these “performers” would then go home with a spring in their step and a feeling of more pride in their work.

So the next time someone gives you a compliment, or praise, or celebrates you in any way – just receive it, enjoy it, and say “thank you”.  I will always try to remember that as creative artists we are privileged to get this kind of recognition.  Maybe there’s a way this gift can be spread, for the benefit of workers far and wide.

Enjoy your life in theatre (or whichever creative world you are)