In the play Olympic Village by David Mitchell Robinson, the Nike executive ALAN using the term Swoosh as in “…you don’t have any Swoosh in your guts.” and “That is what Swoosh in your guts looks like”. A term/phrase used by the company as motivation or a symbol of who they are and what they hope to achieve. A lot of companies have catch phrases like this. Executives will use them in motivational company meetings or to outside press as a way of saying this is who we are.
As far as I see, ALAN only says Swoosh twice in the script, but the character ALAN has probably said it hundreds of times and has developed a specific way he likes to say it.
An example of how a single word or phrase can make a big impact on a character: In the movie Closer, there is a scene between LARRY GRAY (Clive Owen) and ALICE AYRES (Natalie Portman). GRAY is in a private room at a strip club where AYRES performs. Every time he throws money her direction, she says “Thank You”. Her inflection is genuine but her face does not reflect that sincerity. It is a stunning contract. ALICE AYRES has said that phrase hundreds if not thousands of times. She has said it so often that it comes out with the same inflection every time, regardless of the situation.
And why should it not. As part of a service where you are working directly for tips or cash, you put on a front to make the customer enjoy the situation and hopefully give you more money. And the more often you put on that front or mask, the easier it is to produce. “Thank You” has been said so often with the same practiced sincerity that it does sound genuine. AYRES is obviously unhappy doing what she is doing, but her tone does not betray that, even though her manner does.
So I need to work on Swoosh. Why so much over a single work only said twice? Because it is what the character has perfected as part of his work life.
There are many aspects to character development and in most of the stage productions I have done, I have not had to think about a single word, a defining word, because they are not there. But in this play, there is a character defining word and it is Swoosh.