Before I graduated, the School of Music at Baylor asked that I take on a small role for an operatic production of The Elixir of Love – a sweet story that, in a nutshell, has Nemorino (the main male character) convinced that a love potion will help him win him the heart of Adina (the main female character). Nemorino was sold this ‘magical elixir’ from Dulcamara – a carpetbagger of sorts that (for this particular show) needed a lowly peon to help cart around his wares, hand out the goods, etc.
No singing required – just some guy that could pass off as a deadpan, overworked, been-there-done-that kind of assistant to push the merchandise. Liking the idea of doing something a little different, I decided to take the role on and had some fun with it. My intention was to find a simple idea of what this dude was about and tweak it just enough to make him interesting. Doing his gave me the freedom to have a GREAT TIME – I didn’t overcomplicate it…just stuck to my task, scowled a little bit, waved a small flag and kept a straight face.
And it worked.
Strangers would come up to me around campus and start talking about what I did as the assistant, laughing their heads off, telling me how I ever did that without cracking a smile……!……this was about as much attention as I got when I did a ‘real’ role at the time……!……after hours of deliberation, personal work, thought, analysis and more gobbledy gook that I care to mention.
I was onstage for no more than 5 minutes…in a 2 ½ hour production with an intermission…and I did something so right that it struck a nerve. At first, I was angry about it; but, then, after a few moments of thinking about it, I began to really get the fact that there is no such thing as a ‘bit part’…not really.
About halfway into the film, Ken does his bit for a 3-minute scene (the latter two minutes of the scene) where he created something very memorable with Jesse’s Girl. It was
- Engaging – Ken made his ‘Don’ character pop out with energy, enthusiasm and silliness. You really want to know this guy…he has no real semblance (so we think) of how ‘off’ he may sound and doesn’t care – he just rocks it out on the microphone!
- Fresh – Ken had a unique perspective on this ‘Don’ character…maybe it was fashioned after someone he knew or a combination of folks he knew. Regardless, Ken delivered what he knew about ‘Don’ (real or imagined) to make him interesting and presented a fella that could sell a thousand dollar karaoke systems…easily.
- Thoughtful – Ken brought out a person that could’ve been a caricature; but instead (perhaps with the help of Ed Norton) punched out something in an altogether fleshed-out guy that you want to trip the lights fantastic at a karaoke bar.
CONSIDER THIS: Whether you are just starting out with a new gig after graduation, embarking on a new career path or trying to familiarize yourself with a new group, technology or idea….there is an INCREDIBLE AMOUNT OF VALUE that you could bring to the table. You’ve just got to own what you have and know. Use what you’ve got and work it – you’ll find something so unique (even if it’s something as ‘minor’ as creating a media list) that it could very well be engaging, fresh and/or thoughtful.