Planning while the Future Plays

posted by Dan Rubin, Publications & Literary Associate
Outside my window on the seventh floor patio are eight young girls playing catch while they finish their lunches before going back to their acting classes. Earlier, a couple practiced lines from a play I didn’t recognize and, on the balcony above, a group practiced “La Vie Boheme” from Rent. It is summer, and 30 Grant has been happily invaded by the young talent of San Francisco (and beyond!). But even though our building is infused with an energy only youth can generate, there is work to be done! And I have the calendars to prove it.

The publications office is upgrading. This past season we used Outlook’s calendar. Fine. Functional. Equipped with alarms that remind me when I should be where and, I’m sure, a number of other applications that I never taught myself. But its palette of five colors is lacking. Five colors for next season are not going to cut it, not with the number of overlapping deadlines already set with as much precision as I can manage. I would schedule lunch breaks for January if I could. So we are upgrading to a Google Calendar with its rainbow of 21 hues. (I can make lunch breaks that pretty faded charcoal color!)

In front of me, pinned to my corkboard, is an At-A-Glance calendar from Office Depot covered with pen and highlighter demarcating when certain colleagues are out of the office, as well as additional reminders that should and might be transferred onto my online calendars. Above me is an enormous color printout of our simplest production calendar, which includes the runs for the mainstage performances at the American Conservatory Theater (affectionately though erroneously still known as the Geary); the Garret, our lovely cabaret space on the top floor of the American Conservatory Theater; Zeum Theater, where our M.F.A. and Young Conservatory actors regularly wow Yerba Buena Gardens; our touring cabarets and Will on Wheels; and Hastings, recently zoned for public performances.

Behind me is a whiteboard that will soon have our most immediate deadlines drawn in dry-erase marker—the first will be the design deadline for the season’s Words on Plays covers, quickly followed by the program deadlines for Brief Encounter. On my desk to my left is a complete printout of our detailed month-by-month production calendar with performance dates and times, special events, etc. My department’s deadlines are written in. These deadlines have already been transferred to our Outlook calendar. Soon I will transfer them to our new Google Calendar, but only after I figure out the most practical and feng shui of color combinations.

I refuse to get a PDA. I would never sleep. I would be up nights updating when I should tie my shoelaces.

Does it really take six calendars to prepare for a season? Probably not. But our building is engulfed in the chaos of young creativity, and right now these calendars are a welcome tether. Otherwise, I might float out onto the balcony and play acting games all day.

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