Tuesday, March 4, 2014

How To Overcome Stage Fright

One of the most common questions that gets posed before someone embarks on an acting career is how one can overcome stage fright. The shortest answer is simply to keep getting on stage.  The magic want that accompanies it?  Feeling the excitement and success before you ever reach the stage. Now, that may not sound like much, but as you will see, the power of repetition and visualization is not to be missed here.  

As babies, the only fear we are born with is that of loud noises.  That's understandable.  As adults, most of our our fears are emotionally based.  Logical fears are those that pertain to survival, like the fear that comes with encountering a bear.  That, for sure, makes sense. The bear represents an immediate threat to your physical well being, and you being scared of it is a good thing! However, let’s reflect on what ‘danger’ you will be facing while acting.

I believe we can agree that the audience isn’t very likely to attack.  So, where does the fear come from. Well, the most common root of performance fear is one of worry; fear of failure or embarrassment.  This fear comes complete with self talk such as, ’I'm going to look stupid’ or ‘people won’t like me’ or a variation of those themes. Our need for acceptance by others and our observers has been ingrained in us since childhood. Then, as we age, these feelings and concerns are unknowingly fed by just about everyone in our lives, and as far as our social lives, it usually does more good than harm.  And as far as your acting is concerned, it’s terrible! 

The first step to overcoming that personal ‘barrier’ is self acceptance. You’ve already accepted that when you are acting you have stage fright, and though recognizing your weakness is vital, it's not going to help you progress by simply being aware of it.  Now it's time to accept that the fear itself is irrational. The truth is, you likely won't please everyone all the time.   The bigger truth is that you became an actor because of YOUR love for it.  If you have a talent for performance, work on technique.  But when you get on that stage or in front of people, get back into that place where you remember how proud you are of the talent that got you here in the first place.  And, get in to character.   Your character is ready to take on the world. 

One thing to keep in mind, is that our bodies translate anxiety and excitement the *exact* same way. There are times when our subconscious minds are simply excited about something, but we can't figure out what it's about, so we label it as anxiety.  Anxiety is a more 'common' emotion we experience that cannot give reason to.  Perhaps our stage anxiety is just mislabeled stage excitement?  Just a thought... now back to my next point. 

I want you to take a moment to visualize the performance.  Close your eyes and get into an emotional space of excitement.  Draw up a memory where you felt overjoyed, excited and proud.  Allow that to overcome you as you emotionally relive the experience. Now see your self walking up to that stage or to the camera and think of how fun your job is.  See the other actors responding readily to your character. See the audience in silent anticipation of your presence.  They came to experience you.  Just them sitting there, waiting, is a gift to you and their way of saying 'thank you' for sharing your talent of story telling. 

The strongest action you can take at this point is to direct your focus away from the negative feelings and instead, focus it on the positive truth which is your talent in acting. Acting classes are here available precisely that reason! They give you a safe environment to practice your craft.   So, don't fret.  Take action.  Start with visualizing the excitement and then move deeper into your talent. We are here to guide you through it.  

by - Navae Fiona

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