In my role as a Business Analyst at First Business Bank, I am fortunate enough that I get to work with a variety of teams to help them gain efficiencies in their processes by reducing wasteful steps and introducing technology where applicable. I also act as a Project Manager for these projects and other strategic initiatives.

When people discover that I have a BA in Theatre Arts, the response is usually, “That’s cool!” followed by, “How does that apply to your job?”  

I could go on and on, but here’s a few key characteristics that stand out to me:

The Right Team: When I’m getting ready to direct a show, I have to be sure I have the right production and technical staff to support me and my vision. I have to be sure I pick the right actors to tell the story.

Just like when I manage a project at work, I need to be sure I have the right team on board to support that project to ensure and measure its success. In both cases, it requires these teams to work collaboratively.

Budget/Timeline: In both cases, I need to adhere to a budget and timeline.

In theatre, there is no changing the opening night date. The date is published and tickets are purchased long before the rehearsal process even begins. So, you adjust your schedule to work towards the date.

Opening night is equivalent to a go-live date in my job. Typically, like many projects, go-live dates can get pushed out for a variety of reasons and would need to be approved.

Resource Planning/Scheduling: I direct in the community theatre setting, so all of the actors are volunteers, and in some cases so is the production staff. But, one thing we all have in common is we have other jobs. Typically each actor puts hundreds of hours into a production. What does this mean? Scheduling rehearsals can be a real challenge. The saying is true – we do it for the love of the art and not for the money.

Likewise, stakeholders working on a project in a business setting often also have other job-related priorities. They have daily duties and now have another project added to their plate. Ideally, they can redirect and delegate some duties to be able to take on the new project, but the reality is that it often doesn’t work that way. Trying to schedule meetings that work for everyone can be very challenging.

Project Success: In theatre, success as a director is measured on whether or not the show meets its attendance goals, comes in on or under budget, and whether or not the audience enjoyed their experience.

In my job, my success is based on if my project meets the success metrics, brings efficiencies to the business, saves money, gets done on time, and is a solution that brings value to internal/external customers.

In reality, I use the skills I learned while earning my Theatre Arts degree every day. Just like I use my Project Management and Lean Six Sigma training to better myself as a Director and Stage Manager when I’m working on a show.

On a personal note, the time I spend in the theatre is amazing. I can’t express enough how much a community theatre positively impacts the community it serves. I have personally seen my 8 year old really come out of her shell and build her self-confidence by being involved in theatre. It’s an outlet that allows us to be creative, and I highly encourage you to check out what your community theatre has to offer. You might be surprised!

Soon, I will be starting this process for Barefoot in the Park, by Neil Simon,a show I’m directing at the Waukesha Civic Theatre (a local non-profit community theatre). 

“All action in theatre must have inner justification, be logical, coherent, and real.” – Constantin Stanislavski