Thursday, August 1, 2019

The first performance of Adjacent to Greatness

I'm feeling lucky!

I've had an incredibly fortunate career in Silicon Valley. I spent 7 years at Apple in the '80s, a few years at General Magic in the '90s, and more years at Microsoft and Google after that. I'm a writer, not an engineer. I've loved watching, teaching, and describing the incredible work I've been lucky enough to see: Macintosh, HyperCard, Magic Cap, and other marvels.

Over the years I acquired a long list of stories about the amazing, bizarre, fun, and just goofy things I've seen in my work. A few years ago my boss at Google, the legendary Louis Gray, encouraged me to start writing some of these stories in blog posts. That was great! But then, in a shocking development, I discovered stage performance and fell in love with it. And it turns out there's a thing called solo performance, where one person gets on stage and tells stories, creating a narrative, typically for an hour or so.

Could I do that? It sounded hard and really, really fun. When I told stories to people, they seemed interested. So maybe it could work. I started listing my stories and then rewriting them to be delivered live. I found it very hard to rehearse, because I felt foolish without an audience, with no feedback to guide me. But I also realized I had been "rehearsing" all the time, whenever I told stories to a friend at lunch or a poor cornered family member. Eventually I was comfortable enough to do a test run with invited friends. It was terrible. Really bad! I got great feedback on what I needed to change, and I changed it.

I spent a lot of time planning, organizing, rewriting, procrastinating, and dreaming, but not performing. Last year I applied to a new works program at The Marsh, a legendary solo performance venue in San Francisco. They accepted me and I got to perform for 20 minutes several times, and again I learned a lot (and got better). I realized that the only time I really made progress was when I actually performed. So I got over my fears, talked to my friends at Playful People Productions, and scheduled a date in San Jose at the Historic Hoover Theatre. Then I actually invited people to come.

Last Friday night was my first full-length performance. So many dreams came true that night! I told my stories on stage in a theatre, for an hour, in front of a good crowd of people, with sound, lights, projected images, props - a real show. And it felt fantastic! And thanks to my great friend John A. Vink, it was recorded, so you can watch if you want. And if you want to see this or future shows live some day, you can sign up to get on my email list here.

Now I just have to figure out when I'm going to do it again!