May 2017

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May 2017

Thoughts From David Grindle

USITT's Executive Director

David Grindle"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."

I recently ran across this statement from Douglas Adams, the creator behind The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Dirk Gently.

We are a deadline driven world and industry. Performance time, the ultimate deadline. How many times in my career did I start building production schedules from opening night working backwards? I was always driven by deadlines.

To this day, at USITT, we are driven by deadlines (I just Freudianly typed DREADLINES). While we were at the conference in St. Louis, we were passing deadlines for the conference in Fort Lauderdale. Our website is filled with application deadlines, registration deadlines, and every other deadline you can imagine.

Think of your own deadlines. When are notes due? When must drawings be completed? Are rehearsal schedules released? They are all part of our common parlance.

The new USITT offices have Rt. I-90 right outside my window. From my desk I can hear, faintly, the cars whizzing by. I hadn't thought about it in the context of deadlines until I read that quote. And now, that sound scares me. If that is truly the sound of deadlines passing, nothing will happen! Projects will continue flying by and not get completed. I had never considered that image in all of my years stage managing or production managing, but it is the perfect image. Deadlines come flying at us. And, just like the highway, there are times when traffic is light, but other times you have so much zipping by you can't imagine how you are going to catch them all.

I type this thinking of my colleagues in summer theatres knowing you have literally hundreds of cast and staff descending on you now, your skeleton staff is dealing with all of the deadlines: the housing contracts, the employment contracts, the build schedules, and rehearsal space management. It all can sound like the highway outside my window.

Adams means his statement to be ironic. We can't let deadlines or schedules become like the highway. But just for a moment it does make you chuckle because we've all seen or been that person that is overwhelmed by the traffic on the deadline highway. Did you learn from it? Did someone help you manage it? Or did you get run over by the deadlines whizzing by?

Whatever the case may be, how are you managing that world? I, like so many others, live with calendars and lists. And yet, with that "manifest" of things to do, some things don't get to "done."

As we move into USITT's "quiet" time of year, I am looking ahead and trying to beat some of that deadline traffic. But I know that it will pick up, just as it does for each of us. And when it does, I wish you all the best in traffic management skills.