A beautiful New York City backdrop, a grand piano, an intimate platform, the shimmering light of a fading sunset and talent at its best as we, the betrothed audience, go on an intriguing journey to explore the Dark Side of Leadership.
This theatrical performance called Zero Sum Game is a final grade project for graduate students’ Organization, Communication and Theater Class taught by Dr.Travis Russ. Dr.Russ skillfully designed the first half of the class for students to discuss 5 plays from a long list of choices including Shakespeare and contemporary Broadway performances and the second half of the class was reserved to develop the students own voices as they took to stage on April 23rd at Shetler Studios in New York City.
The play opened with a beautiful lady in a white fur coat with Channel sunglasses, impersonating Anna Wintour, Editor in Chief of Vogue. What began as a humorous recitation of an interview soon gave way to some very personal and courageous stories, an extremely melodious Chinese song and play recitals all strung together by Aditi Budhia, MBA Graduate student at Gabelli School of Business, and Dr.Russ as comperes who expertly connected the different acts of the play.
This play not only covered themes around working conditions of sweatshop workers in China but also went on to discuss stereotypes against successful working women among multiple topics under organizational leadership. It discussed with the same satirical ease what it means to work at the bottom of the hierarchy under incompetent leaders as it effortlessly showed the engaged audience a view from the top by rendering interview narrations of vilified CEOs.
Aditi Budhia very rightly sums it up, “We were really able to objectively discuss the sometimes blurry lines between the employee-boss relationship and examine when far becomes too far. It really pushed me hard to think on the repercussions of the mistakes even good leaders can make.”
The loud applause after every act and spectators discussing the play way after it was over was the most natural aftermath of this brilliant show as the students so comfortably delivered their lines with the help of apt backdrop productions as they stretched the lines of dialogue around organizational communication and leadership.
As an emotional Dr.Russ says, “What’s impressive for me personally is to see the journey of my students growing from when they first entered the class, I am so proud of each one of them.” This was indeed a spectacular performance on some very complex and challenging subjects.
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.