Stage Fright? Stay with me and I’ll show you how to Enjoy the Fear!
It was a particularly wet and dismal day, January in 1991.
The back street next to the Theatre Royal stage door in Hanley, Stoke on Trent, sadly now a Super Market, the street was packed with late afternoon shoppers cars.
When we arrived we had to cart our props, costumes and equipment nearly the length of the block in rain that was doing a bloody good Niagra falls impersonation and I felt bloody miserable…
I’d spent the Christmas before working in the Sunshine in Malta so this was not a very comfortable place to be.
Set up that afternoon was a confidence builder like no other.
At the time part of my show included a fantastic Russian Roulette routine played with detonation plungers and a stick of ‘dynamite’, actually a Kitchen Roll tube painted red and yellow with a stage maroon inside.
Opening my case I found I’d forgotten the stage maroon that made the dynamite ‘bang’ so it was a case of dropping the fifteen minute finale and substituting something else.
The afternoon got better.
My assistant’s blouse split.
My best mic blew something.
The lighting engineer had a fender bender and so missed the tech rehearsal.
It felt more like a production of MacBeth than a hypnotist comedy show.
By the time the theatre doors were opened the stage nerves were at defcon 9 and rising.
To top this the stage manager breezed in to tell me that – first night for me in a large theatre – we were sold out.
Over 2000 people. And unlike my usual hotels, holiday camps, cabaret and social clubs with other distractions, ALL their attention would be on me – [Gulp]
Stage Fright Defcon
*** Oh my god what if it all goes wrong now? ***
So, stage anxiety and terror of public speaking and performing seemed to be the emotive if not logical choice…
Then Gem brought me a cuppa. . . .
And, as was my thing, I sat alone for ten minutes before curtain to contemplate, focus and use Presupposition, or in my version of NLP = Deja Vué.
Normally with a few hundred in a club audience, I followed my mentors advice and visualised a great show. Saw the audience clapping and whistling. Saw me taking my bow and signing autographs in the bar afterwards.
But this night I did something else as well, I don’t know why, but I’m glad I did.
This night I focused on the fear I felt.
And a strange thing but I felt something click in my psyche.
It was a delicious feeling.
An EXCITING feeling.
It felt just like a rollercoaster does when you get to the top of the first big riser and begin to level out.
Being a naturally talented observer, I noticed that I was thinking faster and actually visualising with a lot more clarity.
Even the focus of that visualisation was different.
It wasn’t on the audience anymore, nor was it on the future, it was on me and what I was feeling in that very moment.
The curtain call came and as I walked down to the wings my music started and the first exhilarating almost heart stopping feeling of trepidation reached Defcon – who cares, we’re all going to die anyway!
That Evening, I rode that fear and felt more comfortable than I’d ever done.
That wonderful energy, that almost orgasmic wave of adrenalin and dopamine was unforgettable and two and a half hours later it climaxed in my first standing ovation.
Since then I’ve realised something fundamental, it isn’t what you are feeling that is important, it’s how you interpret your feelings that has the greatest effect.
Fear can be as enjoyable as any emotion, it is actually a choice thing.
You know, there is hardly any difference physiologically between a panic attack and an orgasm?
In 1878 in ‘Physiologie des passions’, Charles Letourneau, noted that our emotional responses are just momentary passions, so we can turn fear into EXCITEMENT just by thinking it so.
In my Mind the trick is enjoying and employing the fear if it’s happening and don’t waste time trying to hide or avoid it, enjoy it!
FOCUS, Full On Use of Subconscious, on the Fairly Easily Adjusted Response and say, “I’m not scared, I’m Excited!” And repeat that a LOT. Over and over.
Now instead of being calm and performing at level 5, you can still be inside your comfort zone and use the dopamine and noradrenaline at the edge and perform at level 10!
Did you know that when 2,000 people applaud in a small theatre – you can feel the wind! Well it feels like you can ! 😎
Share this with someone who’ll benefit please. Then employ the advice and comment below telling us all how you turned your fear into excitement!