It’s been a couple of weeks since I performed my one person show, Black n Blue Boys / Broken Men. I know, I know; it’s strange to read the perspective of someone from the introverted tech world doing an very extroverted art form, but at this point in my career, I’ve come to grips that being a well rounded human being helps immensely.

 

Why Theater? Why A One Person Show?

Now, I wouldn’t say that every engineer should take on a regular stand up routine, or every actor learn python! That would be silly! I planned, performed and produced a one person show for altruistic and not so altruistic reasons. The first is relatively simple; I came from a low income background. Despite this, I had great friends who had supportive parents who helped me learn cool things like: throw pottery,learn PC games, read classic books and also allowed me to be a surrogate part of their families. Treehouse, a local non-profit Seattle institution, encourages that same type of nurturing for foster children who are teetering between the crossroads of adolescence and adulthood. Gathering donations for them, with the help of smART, certainly helped make those in affluent neighborhoods more aware of the heartbreaking divide between Seattle’s rich and poor young adults.

The non-altruistic reason was to push both my theatrical chops as well as put my Project Management skills to the ultimate test. As I evolved in my career in entertainment, video games and technology, I became a jaded product of my own professional skepticism. There was a paraphrased quote from classic game designer, Al Lowe, stating that ‘…back in the day, you had to do it all yourself, the marketing, the game design, the programming…’. I never forgot that and when initially embarking on my journey into technology, I truly believed that this mantra rang true.

After a decade of hitting my head on so many business casual doors, I see that a mantra of ‘finishing’ rarely exists in technology. I spent so many years, planning, performing, directing meetings, taking minutes, negotiating and creating schedules that I never saw a project truly ‘done’ with a high bar of quality. Long story short: I was sick of seeing ‘half-assed’ results after months of tedious planning. I wanted to see if a good PM can be more than an itemized title and a certificate; I wanted to see what a real Producer is made of.

 

Transitioning from PM to Producer

A One Person Show is the ultimate test. Yes, you can make a game, an app or a website, but designers have a way of backsliding on schedules. With theater, I couldn’t shirk from a hard stop; I had to power through and let the chips fall if I was prepared or not.

This series of blog posts is a journey through my one person show process, but, more importantly, it’s a thesis of workflow contradictions within the tech sector.  I want to raise the question of ‘Why?’

  • Why can’t the tech sector be more efficient and lean?
  • Why can’t tech workers take communication notes from artists?
  • Why does a certificate mandate skill and expertise?
  • Why do we still rely on outdated mores and social structures in our workforce when they are not working?

Through the series, I’ll compare the above questions with what I learned through trial and error, but most importantly, I want to stress that doing good work (having impact, saving time, trusting your team, delivering a solid product, making clients happy) was fueled by helping children I will probably never see, but will hopefully help.

 

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