We had the good fortune of connecting with Chris Hamby and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chris, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Risk is something we constantly talk about at TheaterWorks. As an organization we know that success is often connected to risk. However, calculating those risks is what we have found to be the key factor to some of our most successful endeavors. Our undertaking of creating the immersive theater project, Curiouser & Curiouser, was perhaps our biggest risk to date. We were venturing into entirely new territory for the 36 year old organization. So many questions were asked internally. How would we keep our organization viable during a pandemic? How do we keep staff and artist working? How do we keep everyone safe? Will this work? We found a way to do it. We knew that the Universe had presented us with something we never have in the theatre…time. We used that time wisely to dream, plan and risk. The goals we set out with were quickly surpassed and had greater outcomes than we could have ever expected. We not only created a successful production but we turned a profit. We found a younger audience craving a new way to experience theatre. Dreaming and risk seem to be interconnected in my opinion. Both present an opportunity throw out the rule book. Dream what it can be and then take the risk to make it a reality. In my career those risky ideas have resulted in my biggest leaps forward as an artist. They have been my best teachers as well. They may not always pay off as you intended but they always teach you something.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I never expected to have the career that I have had. I’ve just always wanted to tell stories. The theatre has allowed me to tell those stories on stage. It has also allowed me to collaborate with other artists that elevate those stories with specific art. It might with dance, or paint or fabric. When all the elements come together in synchronicity and harmony, it is truly magical. Sometimes someone may not want to hear your story and that can be hard. Each time you create a production or performance it takes so much out of you physically and mentally and if it is not received with the same ferocity that you put into there is a sting. Those stings has lessened over the years and the more stings you have the more you can endure them. It’s the unknown that makes it worth it for me though. I know that someone received that story as intended. They heard and felt what was trying to be shared. You usually never hear from that person but you know that they were out there. Hopefully they left with a little piece of you with them. Though you may never know their name, though a conversation may never be had you know they heard you. Even if that one individual connected with your work it was worth all of it. Hopefully that sharing of stories and energy and art has reverberations beyond what any of us know.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We would definitely visit some sort of performance. I love puppetry so it’d be a naughty puppet show at All Puppet Players with dinner at Alexi’s. Another night be a musical at The Phoenix Theatre Company with drinks and dinner beforehand at Durant’s. On a week long trip we’d definitely make a visit to Cosanti in Scottsdale and buy a Soleri bell as a token of the trip. Depending on the time of the year hanging out at one of our great parks like Steele Indian School Park with an outdoor movie. When the weather is favorable the Desert Botanical Garden is another favorite.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have had the pleasure of so many people offering me guidance and mentorship throughout my life. Too many to name but some standouts are Alan Prewitt, Robyn Allen, Susan Morrell, Linda Phillips and Karen Rolston. My partner in life Paul Pedersen is the person that gives my inspiration and encouragement everyday. Finally my sister Tiffany Hamby who is the glue for our family and who I want to be when I grow up.