“I hope no matter how rich and powerful I become, I never have to compromise my values for success”, says Aditi Budhia, MBA student at Gabelli School of Business, as she describes her challenging assignment in choosing a role for her class’s theatrical performance called Zero Sum Game-The Dark Side Of Leadership.

This dramatic recital, a brilliant integration of monologues, songs, interviews and play recitations, is a creative genius of an age and ethnic diverse Graduate student class called Organization, Communication and Theater taught by Dr.Travis Russ. An associate professor of communications and media management at the Gabelli School of Business, Dr.Russ meticulously designed this class to teach organizational business and leadership communication though means of script writing, directing and acting as students explored various themes around these topics.

An ingenious show, this was a product of laborious weeks of identifying content, multiple class presentations and a democratic vote to compile the best performances into one big showcase on April 23rd at Shetler Studios in New York City.

“We were given the creative freedom to explore an eclectic range of content around leadership communication subjects and then present it in a safe, non-competitive, feedback driven environment.” says Alexandra Marshall, student at Gabelli School of Business, as she describes her class experience.

Dr.Travis Russ discussing more on the class structure states, “By projecting characters students are able to find confidence in their own public performance voices as they not only learn to identify but also to implement the skills we so rigorously discuss in our classes.”

As a part of this one trimester class students discussed a wide range of content from Shakespearean plays to modern Broadway performances. It allowed business students to explore the minds of theater writers- performers and vice versa. Students also had to exercise their own creative neurons to produce original content around the themes of bad bosses, maligned CEO’s and heartless leaders. A dynamic amalgamation of the worlds of business and theater was thus created on this academic stage

Infact to push this line of thinking even further, Professor Russ even had playwrights such as Mr.Lucas Hnath come in as a guest lecturer to interact with the students in his class. Mr.Lucas’ play, A Public Reading of An Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney, 2013, is a black, humorous, critically renowned play on the society’s choice of idealized leadership.

As Alexandra Marshall so wonderfully puts it, “This class not only helped me grow as an effective and articulate communicator and presenter but also made me really question the sometime blurry line between being a good leader and a horrendous one.” 


For more information on the details of this class please contact Dr.Travis Russ at the Gabelli School of Business, New York Campus. Dr.Travis Russ is an associate professor of communications and media management and the artistic director of Life Jacket Theatre Company.

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