TITLE: Process on My Mind AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: April 30, 2006 12:04 PM DESC: ----- BODY: Jesus Christ Superstar My family and I watched the Tim Rice/Andrew Lloyd Webber rock opera "Jesus Christ Superstar" this weekend. Both of my daughters are into the theater, having performed a few times and seen most of the local children's theater's productions over the last many years. My older daughter vaguely remembers a stage production we saw a few years ago at an excellent local playhouse and wanted to see the show again. Our local library had two versions, the original 1973 movie and a 2000 London theatrical performance staged for television. Fortunately, we all like the music, so watching the same show on back-to-back nights was just fine. Watching two versions so close in time really made the differences in tone, characterization, and staging stand out in great relief. The newer version took a European viewpoint, with the Romans as fascist/Nazi-like overlords and the common people seeking a revolution. The older version focused more on the personal struggles of the main characters -- Jesus, Mary, and especially Judas -- as they tried to come to grips with all that was happening around them. For some reason, this brought to mind a short blog entry called Process as theatre written by Laurent Bossavit nearly two years ago. Laurent considers the differences between Extreme Programming as described in Kent Beck's original book and as practiced by Kent and others since, and compares them to the script of a play like "Hamlet". The script stays the same, but each staging makes its own work of art. The two videos I watched this weekend were at the same time both the same play and very different plays. (I was proud when my younger daughter recognized this and was able to express the two sides.) Folks who feel compelled to follow every letter of every rule of a methodology often find themselves burning out and becoming disillusioned. Or, even when they are able to keep the faith, they find it difficult to bring others into the process, because those folks don't feel any need to be so limited. On the other hand, we've all seen performances that take too many liberties with a script or story -- and instinctively feel that something is wrong. Similarly, we can't take too many liberties with XP or other methodologies before we are no longer working within their spirit. In XP, if we give up too many restrictions, we find that some of the remaining practices lose their effectiveness without the balancing effects of what we've removed. As in so many things, striking the right balance between all or nothing is the key. But we start from a healthier place when we realize that a development process consists of both script and production, fixed and dynamic elements working together to create a whole. I had forgotten that Laurent's blog entry refers to the book Artful Making. In an interesting confluence, I just this week asked our library to purchase a copy of this book so that I can read it over the summer. Now I'm even more eager. Josh Mostel as King Herod Oh, and on the two versions of "Superstar": call me an old fogey, but I still love the 1973 movie. Larry Marshall as Simon Zealotes gives an awesome performance in his highlighted scene, and Josh Mostel delivers one of the all-time great comedic song-and-dance performances as King Herod. "Get out of my life!" -----