Greetings from Australia, more specifically the confines of the Sydney Opera House. I am writing this on my iPad Typepad blogging app, which I tell you not to impress you, but to explain the lack of usual color, boldness and aesthetic appeal I try to flavor my posts with (said app is relatively spartan compared to its web relative).
I spent most of yesterday in a casting session, looking for performers to work with the legendary John Cleese in two Galas we are putting on as part of the Just For Laughs Sydney Festival.
As Producer/Director of said Galas, my job description is wide, encompassing everything from overseeing the script, ensuring "localization" of material, staging the show, ordering props and costumes, and acting as "traffic cop" to ensure all performers enter, exit and interact on stage in the most efficient of manners.
That said, most of yesterday was spent putting performers through their paces, as I read the lines of, and at times stood in for, John Cleese as he sat at a table evaluating those who would be on the heralded Opera House stage with him.
The casting process for this show is a simple one--performers are given a script on which both their lines and their stage directions (i.e. "She is insulted and walks off in a huff") are written. Over and above those words are a few more from me further describing the scene and the stage movements...and off we go into the scene for evaluatory purposes.
Also in the house is a man named Bille Brown, a renowned Australian actor/writer/director (that's him somewhere in this post, wherever the app decided to position it). Bille is classically-trained, a dear friend of John's, a player in Saturday's show (he plays a corrupt priest)...and the teacher of this week's lesson.
Over and over again, following a auditioner's initial couple of takes, Bille took the actor aside and whispered a little sweet something in their respective ears. The performance that followed the whisper was always the best of the bunch, as the wily Mr. Brown tweaked some minor element of each that resulted in a marked improvement.
For example, an actor named Michelle who was cast to play John's new "wife" Jennifer, was told my Bille to play up her Asian heritage. The result--a nonsensical rant in a Chinese/Japanese/Korean hybrid of gibberish--cracked everyone up immediately...and won her the role on the spot, despite being the furthest away physically (she's tiny) from what the role originally required.
Well, Michelle owes her experience to Bille Brown, as do a handful of others cast yesterday (and rehearsed today, as we just wrapped up).
So, Mr. Brown's lesson?
NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF "THE TWEAK."
Like a fine auto mechanic who can tune up an engine with a slight turn of a wrench, the short-relief baseball pitcher called upon just to get the last out, or that eagle-eyed editor/proof-reader who saves you from the humiliation of factual or punctuational mistakes, "The Tweak" is often the difference between success and failure.
Problem is that as things move faster than ever, people don't have time for "The Tweak." Thus it is not only undervalued, but often ignored.
So Bille Brown, this one's for you. Not only do I hope to be able to make a substantial difference in others by Tweaking them, I hope to find someone with as much vision and character as you to continually Tweak all that I do...professionally and personally.
And with that, it's back to work...