Theatre Thursday

Stage Fright is Really… But Can Be Controlled

This blog post is for Elle… and all my other students whom I love and adore.  Why? Because I just need to do what I can to help them feel confident and valued!  I can’t tell you how many students in a drama class or in voice lessons I hear say, “I can’t do this assignment.  I have anxiety.”  What you have is stage fright.  It’s normal.  It’s something every great performer has overcome and so can you!

Today, I am hoping we can take the first steps to revise any negative perceptions, belief, thoughts, images, and predictions related to performing.  Today, I am hoping to uncover the fears related to being seen and heard by others, showing vulnerability, and being considered “less than perfect.”  Today, I am hoping we can take that first step in learning to accept yourself and not feel that you have to prove yourself.

It is important to remember that stage fright is a natural survival mechanism, which causes the release of adrenaline and cortisol, two trusty chemicals that make you turn and run if you are being chased by a bear.  Blood leaves your stomach and you feel “butterflies” or nauseous.  When you feel anxiety over performance opportunities you and your body are under the perception that you are in danger… all very normal… So the fact that you are scared is a natural response… and you are normal.


So, if you are willing to try a few ideas to help you through that nerve wracking assignment, these small tips may help you begin to concur this fear.

  1. Shift your focus from yourself and your fear to your true purpose – contributing something of great value to your audience… even if it’s a recorder…
  2. Focus your attention on thoughts and images that are calming… no need to scare yourself with what could go wrong.  Make a pact with yourself that you refuse to think thoughts that create self-doubt and low confidence.  Change negative self-talk, “What If I mess up?” into positive self-talk, “What if I am freaking fantastic at this?!” Sounds goofy, I get it, but what do you have to lose?  You got this!
  3. Take deep breathes… meditate for a few minutes.
  4. Visualize your success:  focus on your strengthens… you have them… be brave and acknowledge them.  Spend time picturing yourself giving the perfect performance… confident, intelligent, engaging.  Imagine the audience responding with wild applause.  The more you imagine something great, the more likely you will achieve something great.  YOU GOT THIS!
  5. Prepare your material well in advance.  I mean PREPARED!  Know your stuff: your audience, your blood type,  the director’s favorite drink (Witt likes Diet Pepsi from the tap at Circle K).  I’m not kidding.  Well, sort of.  By knowing your material so well that you dream it, you give yourself the gift of confidence and the chance to lessen your fear.
  6. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse… Practice in front of a mirror.  Practice and video tape the performance (for your eyes only, but be kind to yourself).  Rehearse for a few trusted friends and people.   Practice in front of your dog or your cat.  Even rehearse in the performing space all by yourself.  You got this!
  7. Remember… it’s ok to make mistakes.  Be natural.  Be YOU!  That is always successful.

Although you may not get stage fright to totally leave, I am confident that you can manage it with practice.

You are not alone.  Many famous performancers do and have suffered with performance anxiety.  Your teachers want you to succeed and will help you work through what is scary.  YOU GOT THIS!  We can do it together!

These websites also have few more tips that may help you overcome the anxiety you feel when it is time to perform:

How to Overcome Stage Fright and Performance Anxiety – the Ultimate Guide

How to Overcome Stage Fright

Both of these websites have great suggestions and activities to help you feel more comfortable performing.  I plan on using them in class!


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