Performing is difficult. Stage actors are aware of it, as are actors in movies, TV shows, and voice actors. For some of us, it just takes one dropped phrase or one unintentional character change to end the performance. The fear doesn’t so much sneak in as it bursts into our reality, destroying all possibility of accomplishment.
However, things don’t have to be that way. Future performances in those really threatening environments can be made to be just as triumphant as they were meant to be by using what was learned from the previous ones.
What is stage fright?
The fear of speaking or acting in front of an audience is known as stage fright. It is a very typical phobia and is sometimes referred to as performance anxiety, presentation anxiety, or glossophobia (the fancy phrase for the dread of public speaking). Anxiety about public speaking may affect up to 77 percent of the population, according to estimates.
Actors are especially prone to the illness. Eighty percent of working actors have experienced stage fright at some point in their careers, according to a 2012 research by Gordon Goodman, author of “Stage Fright: Who Needs It? ” The same study discovered that auditions are approximately 20% more likely than performances to result in stage fright, suggesting that who is in the audience matters more than the number of people watching. Stage fear affects experienced professionals as well as amateurs, including probably some of your favorite actors, actresses, and performers in theater, cinema, and television.
Why does stage fear occur?
Stage fright can occur in any scenario where performance is being judged, despite the fact that we commonly associate it with performances on stages. Stage fright can occur during speeches, interviews, presentations, auditions, and performances.
Stage fright is, biologically speaking, the body’s fight-or-flight response to the perceived threat of public speaking. The sympathetic nervous system receives messages from the hypothalamus as a result of the amygdala’s distress signal. The common signs of stage fright—increased heart rate and blood pressure, labored breathing, perspiration, and a horrible feeling in the pit of the stomach—are brought on by the adrenal glands releasing adrenaline into the bloodstream.
Overcoming stage fright
You want to captivate the audience when you perform, not the audience to be mesmerized by your trembling hands. Here is a brief summary of some of the methods I’ve developed over the years to combat stage anxiety and release my inner performer:
1. Pay attention to the body
Your adrenaline will be pumping before the performance, so you won’t feel as awkward. If you have time before the performance or audition, take a little walk. Try breathing techniques like prolonging your exhale and belly breathing just before performance. Move around and shake up your muscles until your body feels loose.
2. Keep in mind who is performing
The audience is present to see or listen to you. And you alone. They left the house on a rainy night because of your talent, knowledge, and ability to make the part your own. You are the person in the room at that particular time who is most knowledgeable about this character, this performance, and this piece of work. Use your command of the present to direct your actions.
3. Cast aside the stakes
In the most famous performing arts venues, you can be in front of thousands of spectators rather than just 20 in a repertory theater. They are all ultimately the same. Too many artists let the alleged significance of the performance—of the night, of the audience—influence their mental state. Don’t. view above You are the star performer, and you alone. It doesn’t matter if they’re dressed in sundresses and overalls or tuxedos and gowns.
4. Presentation over audience
In a similar spirit, who you deliver it to is considerably less important than what you deliver. You’ll be protected from any worries relating to the crowd if you keep your attention entirely on your performance. Having said that, if you find it advantageous to make eye contact with a few amiable audience members, go with your gut and do it right away. Some performers find it beneficial to receive the added visual assistance and feedback.
5. Work as a freelance broadcaster
For actors and other professionals in the stage and performing arts, television and radio are great testing grounds since they let you hone your skills without being physically distracted by an onlooker audience. I know it sounds incredibly simple, but spending some time in front of a camera or a microphone in a studio can teach you how to naturally tune out the people around you and concentrate on your performance. The notion goes that if you spend enough time staring at an unblinking red light, you’ll never even recognize who is seated behind the bright lights when you switch to a real stage.
Never feeling the pressure of a performance before having to give it in person is the worst error that performers can make. Your body and mind will never have the chance to experience what it feels like to execute at full volume, at full cadence, and in the environment where you’ll be delivering it. To adjust to the radically different reality of a live, in-person performance, this is essential. It doesn’t count to recite your lines softly into your bedroom mirror. Get comfortable with the specific cues connected with practicing, as if you were actually performing, by precisely simulating the intended space. Contact us for information about our acting program to reduce stage fright.