My stage fright is the fear of failure and judgement in front of an audience, which I sometimes experience before, during or after a show. It is detrimental to my performance because performance requires creativity and rational thought, both of which are reduced, or eliminated, by fear.
“Fear is the mind-killer.” - Lady Jessica, Dune
During my fifteen years of performing, my stage fright reduced from being very detrimental to my performance, to being something I can manage. I have not eliminated it, but I have performed without it occasionally. I don’t expect to permanently end it: I expect it will continue to reduce and will always require management. During my fifteen years, I used the following ideas to manage my stage fright, and I remind myself of them when I have fear before, during or after a show.
In a team of six performers, I remind myself that I’m responsible for one sixth of the show. This prevents me taking responsibility for more than I should. I don’t need my team to take full responsibility, but I don’t need to either.
The audience are not watching me as much as I feel they are. I feel the whole world is looking at me all the time because I see everything I do, I hear everything I say, I hear my inner thoughts, I see all my mistakes. It’s no wonder I feel the bright spotlight and fear overexposure. I am overexposed to myself, but not to other people. In shows, the audience can only focus on one thing at a time, and most of the time, it isn’t me.
“Fear is the mind-killer.” - Paul Atreides, Dune
Humans are interested in other humans. We evolved as social animals and our survival depends on being interested in the stories of other humans. The audience is predisposed to being entertained by other humans. I have to work pretty hard to make them uninterested.
Human brains are actively telling stories about what they see even when there is no story. An audience can see a blank human face and tell a story about what that person is feeling. I can do less onstage and let the audience do the work.
Audiences don’t care about bad shows and will forget them after fifteen minutes. I don’t need to hang onto a bad show, no one else is.
My goal is to entertain and being fearful stops me doing that because fear reduces creativity and rational thought. I remind myself that fear is not useful for entertaining.
“Fear is the mind-killer.” - Frank Herbert, Dune
I remind myself of these thoughts when I have fear before, during or after a show. Over fifteen years, they reduced my stage fright. They may help you, and if not, you’ll have forgotten in fifteen minutes.
“Fear is the mind-killer.” - Cameron D, Dude