A central committee organizes an annual play for tourists, with a fixed cast of actors.
The committee works in the central administration and moves many forms from one computer to another. It is especially proud of a new system which gives it an overview of all the possible venues for holding plays. This makes it feel like it is doing a good job managing the annual play. The committee’s bosses believe them. The bosses are totally dependent on the income from these tourists.
But just before each season’s performance the organizing committee employs this new system and changes the scenography and the script, forcing the cast to do their best to accommodate these changes while improvising on stage. If the audience complains that the quality of the play does not live up to expectations, the committee says <<But this is what we have done every year, what are you complaining about?>>. The Committee does not have to followup or change anything because these are, after all, only tourists.
Few tourists come back for a second performance
The actors try to get some predictability into the annual play. The last minute changes mean the cast cannot count on improving any part of last year’s play, they cannot count on having the same duration for acting nor can they count on the the infrastructure to be suitable for the audience. They keep only the title of the play. The tourists are still paying to see the play so there is no visible record of dissatisfaction. Few tourists come back for a second performance but there is a steady supply of <<virgin>> viewers since this is one of few shows in town.
The Committee does not talk with the actors and refuses to establish any direct means of dialogue. Since the actors’ job is in fact acting, the tourists assume that the play has been developed in accordance with the actors’ ability to emphasize certain texts and themes. Any audience contact has been reduced to during the performance. None of the feedback gives the actors any more influence on the circumstances around the annual play.
The actors are considered poor but permanently employed so what can the Committee do?
The actors are tired of trying to improve even slightly the constraints of such performances, to show their actual ability. The Committee likes blaming the actors. Many courses in acting have been conducted but no improvement in the play has been forthcoming. The actors are considered poor but permanently employed so what can the Committee do? Such an unskilled workforce is obviously resistant to learning. The Committee conveys this to its bosses and they believe the Committee. The tourists must keep coming.
The Committee uses the number of tourists and the existence of the play to convince the government that they are doing an important job. The quality of the play is never a consideration for the Committee because that is impossible to improve with such a poor cast of actors. Which room has available seats and for how long is the basis for the Committee’s annual plea to the Government for funds.
The quality of the play is never a consideration
The government rewards the Committee with payment for each tourist that stays in their seat for the duration of the play. It does not matter if the play is 5 or 10 or 30 minutes long, if the rooms are airless, if the actors have equipment suited to the play, or even if the content of the play matches the advertisement. Bums on seats. Nice new seats have been bought. The Committee gives itself a raise and hires more Committee members to administer the extra number of tourists coming to sit in the new seats for the annual play.
The actors have long since stopped listening
New actors are put on temporary contracts rather than permanent, because these people are not as gifted as those in the Committee. The Committee does not want to have to keep such a poor workforce, as the current cast has turned out to be. The tourists will shortly arrive again to see the play. The tourists will see the actors. They will not see the Committee. They will direct their complaints to the actors. The actors have long since stopped listening. They have at last learned from the Committee.
Students, welcome to next semester’s <<play>>.