A post by Jenna Wilcox, PAA Artistic Director.
It is true that a lot of people in this world suffer from such a thing as stage fright. Stage fright can have a lot of different symptoms including sweaty palms and a racing heart to trouble breathing, thinking and walking. It can be very serious and can strike a person anytime they have to speak in public, even if a stage is nowhere to be found.
So what can you do about it? Well the truth is a great deal of well know actors and performers suffer from the mild symptoms every time they go on stage. Many of us call this “nerves” or “nervous energy”. For me, my stomach gets tied in knots and I feel a little jittery every time a show is coming near. I use this energy to remind myself to breathe deeply, from the diaphragm. Learning to control your breath is the first key to calming your racing heart and mind. Do this by slowing your rate of breath in and out, focusing your breath into the lower edges of your lungs and feeling your diaphragm pulling down and out as you breathe. Start with an inhale to a count of 4 and exhale to a count of 6. As you get better, try to reach for an inhale of 15 and an exhale of 20. This is best achieved by lying or sitting comfortably with your eyes closed, allowing you to focus solely on your breath.
The truth is if you suffer from minor symptoms of stage fright, the best thing to do is face your fears. As often as you can, you should practice speaking in front of a crowd, or better yet, AUDITION! Auditioning as often as you can will help you manage your nervous energy better and give you the practice that you need to appear calm and focused.