Holacracy Community of Practice Archive, 2015-2019 Community Holacracy Web Site

All this talk about volunteers and "roles" reminds me that I already know of a type of organization that has been using both for over a century -- community theatres.

In my experience here in the United States,  a live theatre is generally set up as a non-profit organization with an (unpaid) board of directors. They sometimes have paid staff, but most or all of their performers are volunteers. Actors literally play "roles" (or characters) and work under the direction of, well....a Director (who is often paid a stipend, but is sometimes a volunteer.)  The organization gets money in two ways :direct tax deductible donations solicited through a variety of fundraising efforts, and ticket sales. The public pays for tickets to see the shows in just the same way that they pay to see a professional theatre, regardless of the fact that the actors are not being paid. 
There are other parallels. Actor's roles are pretty clearly defined, as are the responsibilities of other contributors such as designers, stage hands, and ushers.  Often an individual person will fill more than one role, both in the Holacracy sense and in the theatrical sense. For instance, I often fill several Holacracy style "roles" such as directing, choreographing, and performing in the same show. More than once I've had to act as "lead link" and fill in gaps when a person was unexpectedly absent or some last minute task came up. In the theatrical sense, it is quite common for a single actor to portray several minor characters in the same evening, changing costumes and make up as needed. My point is that actors are quite used to the idea of separating "role" and "soul" and to some extent are already used to addressing one another in terms of role, rather than as people. 

On the other hand, in some ways, the theatre is just as autocratic as the traditional corporate structure. The director is sort of a dictator, but must answer to the board. More than once, I've seen directorial decisions changed or reversed at an inconvenient time by an edict from above. Directors can fall in to all the same traps as traditional autocratic managers, and playing politics -- drama, if you will -- happens just as much in the theatre (if not more) than at other companies. 

I don't have enough experience to know if this is helpful in any way. But it seems that the parallels could shed some light on the subject.  

What do you guys think?