Thursday, September 29, 2005

Stage Fright

Stage Fright

Stage Fright (1999)

According to Tom Antion:

Many of the top performers in the world get stage fright so you are in good company. Stage fright may come and go or diminish, but it usually does not vanish permanently. You must concentrate on getting the feeling out in the open, into perspective and under control.

Remember: Nobody ever died from stage fright. But, according to surveys, many people would rather die than give a speech. If that applies to you, try out some of the strategies in this section to help get yourself under control. Realize that you may never overcome stage fright, but you can learn to control it, and use it to your advantage.

Symptoms of Stage fright
 Dry mouth.
 Tight throat.
 Sweaty hands.
 Cold hands.
 Shaky hands.
 Give me a hand (Oops, I couldn't resist).
 Fast pulse.
 Shaky knees.
 Trembling lips.
 Any out-of-the-ordinary outward or inward feeling or manifestation of a feeling occurring before, or during, the beginning of a presentation (Wow! What a dry mouthful!).

Here are some easy to implement strategies for reducing your stage fright. Not everyone reacts the same and there is no universal fix. Don't try to use all these fixes at once. Pick out items from this list and try them out until you find the right combination for you.

Visualization strategies that can be used anytime
 Concentrate on how good you are.
 Pretend you are just chatting with a group of friends.
 Close your eyes and imagine the audience listening, laughing, and applauding.
 Remember happy moments from your past.
 Think about your love for and desire to help the audience.
 Picture the audience in their underwear.

I understand underwear visualization is designed as a calming mechanism, but going on as a nervous schmuck might be preferable to a giggling voyeur. It seems everyone and his performance anxiety prone dog has solutions for stage fright -- ranging from ingesting valerian root to Buddhist ego-bypassing. I wonder -- do visual artists get stage fright...or do they just depict it?

I'm not going out there...

Stage Fright (2002) by Valerie Bogdan
[Image from Blackbird]

Even our finest actors have wrestled with stage fright -- as seen by these reflections by Ian McKellen in "The Awful Hell of Stage Fright":

I was acting twenty years ago in a much praised production on Shaftesbury Avenue. At a late night supper in Soho, I eavesdropped on a couple of actors discussing my performance. They criticised my diction, damned my physique and agreed on my total failure as an actor.

I thought I was impervious, but the next night, in the second act, I stopped in mid-flow, certain that every member of that night's audience agreed with my critics. Unable to say the lines, unable even to walk offstage, I longed for the proverbial trapdoor to open and release me from the hell of being a failed actor. For the next four months the last place on earth I wanted to be was appearing in public.

Performers don't talk much about stage fright. The spectre of a tongue turned to stone and vomit where the lines should be is all too frightening to be evoked. As Laurence Olivier confided in his last book: "Stage fright is... always waiting outside the door, waiting to get you. You either battle
or walk away."

Loyalty to the play, to fellow actors, dramatist and management, plus the convention that "the show must go on" prevent all but the least confident from walking away. Gray's play is continuing. I hope it won't be long before Stephen can echo Sir Laurence's words: "I have been there, I have looked over the edge, and I have returned."

I also wonder if bloggers get stage fright -- or just too tired to push ahead and put up that next post.

But, sometimes, after a rash of flaming, flesh-stripping comments...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is an extremely unusual fractal, and it's quite beautiful in its dance of strangeness. My eyes hurt.

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