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Stage Fright

June 3, 2008
Takes And Double Takes

Dealing with Stage Fright


June 3, 2008
Takes And Double Takes
Dealing with Stage Fright

I have just recently co-created and co-directed a new theatre troupe with Jonathan Mirin.  It is called Sign of the Times Theatre Troupe.  The troupe is made up of seven student actors who can hear and seven who have little or no hearing.  Working with this mixed group has been a wonderful challenge and joy.  At the core is learning to communicate, to “find your voice”, physically, or “fizzically” as my partner, Peter Gould, and I put it.  We all understand body language to a degree and so it’s all about giving it a go, trying to make ourselves understood.

This is the first experience on stage for several of the actors in Sign of the Times, and, as is to be expected, some did experience stage fright.  Here is what I tell my youth actors about this phenomenon, one that most actors, even seasoned professionals. experience at one time or another.

“Remember, kids, every audience member comes wanting to have a good time. They WANT you to succeed.  Fear of Failure is in OUR OWN HEADS, NOT in theirs.  We make up that dark room of fear; we imagine it as if it is real (which it is not) and then we enter into it.  Your job as actors is to TELL THE AUDIENCE A STORY and to have lots of fun in telling and acting it.  If you HAVE FUN, your audience WILL HAVE FUN, I GUARANTEE IT!  That is why they have come to see and listen to you.  All you have to do is go on stage and do what you have been practicing all along, nothing new, nothing unusual, and all WILL BE WELL, that is THE LAW!! 

Fear has NO PLACE or PURPOSE IN OUR LIVES, nor does NEGATIVE THINKING!  Give fear and negative thinking the boot.  BANISH THEM FROM YOUR HEAD, 24-7!  Instead, think about possibilities and opportunities.  They are everywhere when you open your eyes to them.  Think CONSTRUCTIVELY and TAKE ACTION, ACTION, ACTION.  All will be well.

When I began my career 35 years ago, I was so scared and tense that I used to literally soak, ringing wet, two shirts during my mime show.  I got terrible back spasms too!  Then a wise man told me to change my attitude.  He said, “before you go onto the stage, imagine everyone in the audience smiling at you, loving you, applauding you.  Then imagine that your arms are one hundred feet long and that you can surround the entire audience with them and bring them all close to you, at your feet, on a little rug.  Imagine all of them as four-year-old children.  They are all smiling at you.  You are going to tell them a story.  They are excited to hear it and you are excited to tell it.  Then see what happens.”

I did just that and, lo and behold, as I did that more and more, it became a self-fulfilling prophecy.  I imagined my audiences loving me and being little children and, very soon, everyone watching me began to smile and laugh and I began to relax more and more and the fear I used to have evaporated like wet snow on a warm Spring day.  Try it.  It will work for you too.

Enjoy your acting and always remember to keep on dancing!
Uncle Stevie

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