No matter what happens, the show must go on. In any performance, the audience and patrons expect nothing but flawless lines, spectacular delivery, and a perfect show worth every penny they paid for. Your whole career as a performer rests on this one performance that took a lot of time, money, and effort to produce. One wrong move, one wrong line delivered, and the whole performance may end up in disaster. It’s a nail-biting, hair-ripping situation that can make even a veteran performer go crazy.
Anyone who had performance anxiety will tell you that it’s far worse than a typical case of stage fright. Performance anxiety is a very common fear, and is experienced by novice performers and veteran thespians alike. While some people can cope with performance anxiety just fine, some people become really nervous to the point that they cannot perform because of the pressure. If you’re afraid you’ll blow the performance of your life, here are some ways to get rid of that anxious and stressful feeling.
Signs of Performance Anxiety
Here are some tell-tale signs that you’re suffering from performance anxiety:
* Even if you’ve memorized your lines weeks or even months in advance, you start to forget your lines just before the performance.
* You focus more on the audience instead of doing your part in the production.
* Before your performance, you start sweating profusely, have mild chills, and get shivers and tremors.
* You suffer from maladies like dry mouth, diarrhea, constipation, and incontinence when the performance date nears.
Put the Performance in Perspective
Some people think that the performance is everything, and that one wrong move will result in the kind of utter failure that they’ll carry for the rest of their lives. If you take the performance too seriously, you’ll end up thinking that you’ll carry the burden of a failure for the rest of your life. Yet if you take the performance too lightly, you may even end up being the cause of the failure.
Without perspective, the performance will not be what you always expected it to be. Your life does not have to revolve around the performance. You have other things to do besides performing, and you have a lot more performances to look forward to after you’re done with a play or a concert. If you commit yourself to the performance and put your best foot forward, you don’t have to worry about missing out on lines and steps.
Concentrate on the Performance
One of the things that make performances very tricky is the audience itself. Even veteran stage performers find themselves intimidated by the audience from time to time, especially if it’s a major production. There are always audience members and patrons who will watch your every move, critics who will either praise or pan your performance, and friends and family who will watch you give the performance of a lifetime.
Instead of being very nervous about giving the performance of a lifetime, it’s much better if you pay attention to the performance itself. People paid good money to see you perform, and not to watch them observe you. The more you concentrate on the performance, the less conscious you would be of the crowd reaction. Save the reactions for the standing ovation you’re going to get afterwards.
Use the Fourth Wall
As a performer, your place is on the stage, not with the audience members. While it’s important to integrate audience involvement or participation in your performance, the stage is the best comfort zone you can possibly have. That’s why there’s a “fourth wall” that protects the performer from the audience.
Instead of an open theater, think of the stage as an enclosed space, and that the performance and actual production is your dry-run or final rehearsal. Think of the fourth wall as just that: an invisible wall that you can’t see through.