Overcoming Stage Fright
There is no panacea for stage fright and pre-performance jitters. Let’s admit, even the most established actors can get tensed up before an audition, live performance or even in front of the camera. The reason could be any. Katrina Kaif had once admitted to being edgy when performing with Shah Rukh Khan. Your anxiety is a normal fight and flight reaction of your body in an apprehensive situation. Stage fright is just a manifestation of your anxiety before performing; and it is nothing to be ashamed about. But you have to control your fears when performing.
Embracing a few techniques before delivering the actual performance may help you deal with your stage fright.
1. Practice, Practice and Practice
There are no short cuts to achieve a certain level of perfection in any skill. Rehearse your lines again and again. Practice like this were your last chance to prove yourself as an actor. If you fail to realize the weight of your act, you will fail to deliver. Delivering your lines in front of a live audience or camera is very different from rehearsing alone in your bedroom in front of the mirror. Try practicing in front of an audience (friends, family or mentor).Your practice should enable your mind and body to be taken over by your character. That said, try to avoid an overkill. Give yourself a buffer between the actual performance and practice. Stop practicing and relax for some time before you actually deliver. In this way, you’ll avoid getting consumed and confused by your lines.
2. Breathe, stretch and relax your body.
Breathing properly through your diaphragm will help you feel calmer. Certain Pranayama techniques allow you to slow down both, your breath and your heart rate. Add on stretching exercises to relax those worked-up muscles that your stage fright has messed up. Stretching releases the tension in your muscles and leaves you feeling much lighter. Yoga and meditation before you start out on your big day could chip off much of the nervousness you are going through. So remember to breathe easy and ease your racing mind and heart.
3. Combine a balanced meal with a good night’s sleep before your performance.
Caffeine, alcohol and a sugar-high meal stimulates the production of stress hormones in your body. Citrus juice, however, can bring down your rising blood pressure and heart rate. If you feel nauseated to the gut, a banana can help ease your tummy. A sensible meal, a few hours before your performance is highly recommended, so that your rumbling tummy does not take over your performance.
4. Arrive early
Anxiety can grip you when you are running late- even if your scheduled outing is a dinner or a movie. By arriving early at the venue of your performance you can acclimatize your mind and body to your new surroundings. You thereby, give yourself a psychological space to get comfortable and calm down your nerves in the actual environment. Use this buffer space to practice your calming techniques and to go over your performance for one last time.
5. Performance over audience
When on stage, an actor sometimes focuses more on ‘who’ he is performing for rather than ‘what’ character he is playing. The focus of an actor should always be his character. It is a fact
that you cannot black out your audience completely. But you certainly need to insulate yourself from what your audience might be thinking about your performance. You must own your character like no one else – not even its creator –no one knows your character better than you do! Your audience is bound to accept you in your character if you take full ownership of it.
6. Imagine your loved ones in your audience.
The trick of imagining every audience member in his underwear is passé. It might have worked for some actors but has also been detrimental in putting others at ease. Imagine that everyone in the audience is a family member, a friend or a person you are comfortable with. The thought of being with loved ones in times of crisis is always comforting. It works much better and more quickly than imagining a semi-naked audience.
7. Learn how to work with your mistakes.
You have to come in terms with the fact that mistakes are inevitable. Despite all the intense practice and prep up, minor glitches do happen. Even the most flawless of all performances will have its errors. Accepting this fact before you perform will instill a heightened sense of awareness when you commit the errors. You can instantly respond to them and make them look like a part of you act. The fear of making mistakes is the biggest cause of stage fright. Learn how to work your mistakes to your advantage. You will surely sail through a knock-out performance.