Drupal, Project Management, and the Stage Manager
A few days ago I was giving a presentation on Project Management at Drupalcon Munich. While talking about my background, I mentioned how Technical Theatre has parallels to Project Management in Web development. Drupal itself has parallels to the act of building a show for the theatre when you are in the act of building a site.
Technical Theatre is the art of the technology behind the modern theatre. It is also known as stagecraft.
Stagecraft is a generic term referring to the technical aspects of theatrical, film, and video production. It includes, but is not limited to, constructing and rigging scenery, hanging and focusing of lighting, design and procurement of costumes, makeup, procurement of props, stage management, and recording and mixing of sound.
I went to graduate school to study theatre. I am a theatre technician by training. I worked as a lighting designer, lighting technician, and stage manager before completing a certification in Arts Administration from the University of Ottawa. Stage management is very much like project management and technical theatre, as a whole, is very much like developing a site in Drupal. We are artists and artisans working in collaboration. Code is protected as a copyrighted work. Themes are designed. Words are crafted. Indeed, all sites are, at some level still hand built. Fabien Potencier echoed this belief during his keynote at Drupalcon Munich.
A stage manager coordinates and communicates between different parties and ultimately runs a show. The stage manager's book becomes the "requirements" of the show and this person takes the time to collect all the requirements from the Director, Lighting Designer, Sound Designer, and Set Designer. This "bible" becomes the lynch pin for "calling the show", the activity of calling each lighting, sound, and actor's queue to the board operators, follow spot operators, and backstage staff. The stage manager is responsible for the show's rehearsal timeline.
Sound familiar? Project Managers have a similar role. They generally are not responsible for the "vision" of the final project - but responsibilities include gathering requirements, keeping the schedule, and organizing the human resources.
Do I think I'm an anomaly? Nope, when I tweeted about this around the time Drupalcon Denver two other folks in the Project Management sphere chatted back saying how they had had the same experience. It seems that Technical Theatre "Ex-Pats" have a predilection for web project management.