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We Made a Play

For the past year and a half, I’ve been working on a project within a big local company on an on-and-off basis. Despite being in an old and somewhat slow company, the project has been anything but. The manager of the project is a real visionary and takes great pride in defying convention. Here’s an example:

Yesterday we (16 of us) gathered in a studio in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. Our task, on the clock, was to create a play during the day and perform it for our friends and family that night. The play would tell the story of our team and we would have the help of a group of theater professionals.

Update: The pictures from the play's production are here.

As we received our directions, we were a bit stunned. A play? What does this have to do with the project? WTF? Those of us who have been with the project have learned to roll with these types of things.

The day was spent brainstorming and playing improv games that warm you up and train you to think on your feet. One of my favorites was Bippity-Bippity Bop.

Our performance was at 7pm and our audience gathered in the auditorium. The lights went out and we stepped onto the stage. Quite unbelievably, it went better than expected. We were more emotive, clear and organized that we ever thought possible. Despite the last minute rush to finish, we actually told a story (which we didn’t realize until later).

Today we spent 4 hours debriefing the whole thing and the connection to the project became very real. Looking back on our work together, the process of creating the play was a microcosm of our development process. We organized ourselves similarly, we dealt with conflict similarly and the same problems arose.

In the end, we got to a space where we were very honest with on another about why we have the problems we have. Looking at a microcosm of the project allowed us to realize our weaknesses and opportunities and voice them in new ways.

From the outside, it may seem like a colossal waste of time, but we made progress today in the debrief that could not have been made without the experience of creating a play together. Over and above that, I got a little education of the theater, which I appreciate more than ever before.