Has this ever happened to you?
You walk into the audition room and feel all eyes on you. The pressure is on. You feel yourself begin to sweat, your pulse races, all of a sudden everything you planned to say or do flies out of your mind and you wonder, Dear God! Why did I put myself in this situation?!
Stage fright. Even if you are one of the few artists who hasn’t experienced this on the stage or in an audition room, it’s likely you’ve had it somewhere else: the nervous tummy the night before a big test, you’re on the basketball court getting ready to shoot a three pointer and feeling the pressure is ON. Everyone experiences that pressure, some kind of stage fright, performance anxiety at some point in their life.
In a recent study conducted by Gordon Goodman at the Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara, he found that more than 80% of professional actors have suffered from stage fright at some point or another during their career.
And he also found that contrary to popular belief, stage fright has nothing to do with age, lack of experience, or talent. It can afflict you when you are just starting out or it can seize you for the first time in the middle of your career.
Your Role: Center of Attention
When you step out onto a stage, or in front of a camera, you’re assuming the role of center of attention. It is presumed that all eyes would be on you. So you have the responsibility to do something with that attention. Will you excite them? Transport them into another world? Or will you make them feel awkward? Or make them fall asleep? (Yikes!)
Being in front of people and commanding that attention can be daunting. If you choose to do it, then you understand that responsibility to deliver – to not bore your audience – but to deliver them something wonderful. It’s a lot of pressure! But also powerful and WONDERFUL! And I want to acknowledge you for taking on that role. It is instant leadership.
That responsibility to deliver is exactly what can make it so tough and heartbreaking when you drop the ball. Because you know that carrying the energy is your job.
Not to brag, but these days I have an amazing relationship with my stage fright. I welcome the heightened sensation of it and have learned to work with the curve. When I flub up or something disastrous happens at a show my immediate response now is “Yes!” Because I’m experiencing a moment of aliveness. As a comedian, once I had an audience literally yell “booo!” at me and urge the host to get me off the stage. You’d think that would be a traumatic memory, but in truth it’s one of my favorites. I relished the opportunity to get my hands dirty and see what I can do to get creative with the moment and turn things around.
But it wasn’t always this easy . . .
For years, as a young actor, I would get horribly nervous in auditions. All that build up to those few moments in the casting room would create a tremendous amount of pressure I could never quite live up to. It was so bad I nearly quit at one point.
It wasn’t until many years later, and several performing careers had passed, that I finally figured out ways to really and truly use this fear and that nervous energy to my benefit.
And these are secrets I’m excited to teach to you!
Join me for my upcoming workshop with ActorPlaybook, Audition Like A Pro: How to Turn Nervousness Into Magnetism, where I’ll share some of the tools and methods I’ve used and that have now helped hundreds of actors nail their auditions.
Because what I’ve found is that you can have all the great acting techniques in the world, but it doesn’t mean anything if you can’t manage nervousness in the moment so that you can use them.
I look forward to seeing you there!
For workshop information and registration click here.
Holly Shaw is a Bay Area based Bestselling Author, Creativity Coach, and Hypnotherapist who has worked with hundreds of actors and performers, some of them Emmy award winning and Grammy nominated, helping them to overcome performance anxiety, impostor syndrome, and creative blocks so that they can totally captivate in auditions and performances without feeling like they’re selling out or losing their sanity. A former SAG actor and professional dancer, she’s now been coaching artists for over a decade. She’s taught several times at the SAG/AFTRA conservatory in San Francisco and Los Angeles and continues to put herself in “the line of fire” on stage these days as a stand up comedian. To find out more, visit www.performersandcreatorslab.com.
Testimonials from Previous Workshop Participants:
“Thank you Holly for your presentation last night for SAG. I felt so uplifted and inspired.”
– Marion Novasic, SAG Actor
“I greatly enjoyed the workshop! So many topics and techniques profoundly resonated with me.”
– Meagan Cunningham, SAG Actor