Trust yourself that you know what you’re doing! You’ve worked hard to get to the point of being on stage, so trust that you have done enough preparation and then let it all go. It will still be there for you but you no longer need to constantly think about it. Trust that’s within you and ready to emerge when the time is right.
Also, trusting that the other people on stage will have your back if things go awry, that they will be there to help you out if you need it. This makes for a much calmer experience as you’ll probably be nervous enough stepping onto the stage as it is, let alone worrying about others!
Be present on stage - not thinking about your next line or that the scenes messing up or even that you wish that person in the audience would stop coughing!!! It can be difficult sometimes but the only way you can give a truthful performance is if you are present and ‘in’ the scene.
I’ve learnt you really have to have an unshakeable amount of presence in order to remain fully present on stage.
I’ve also noticed that if I feel myself getting distracted, I will force myself to listen to what the other person/people on stage with me are saying to me in order to stay present. Or if it’s me talking, I will make sure I am coming back to what I am saying and listening to myself.
Before the performance, I have found that a short meditation or some deep breaths are so valuable for my ability to be and remain present on stage.
Focus and presence kind of go hand in hand. But I’ve learnt that focus in particular is key in getting your performance to it’s optimum level.
Focusing on the world of the play or forgetting the outside world (depending on which way you look at it!) is integral to getting to the humanity of your character and giving an outstanding and truthful performance.
Contrary to popular belief “the human brain is incapable of doing two things at once”.
So, if you aren’t focused on exactly what is happening on the moment to moment of the scene, you will most likely lose your way or not be able to play the character as truthfully as you should be.
In order to gain this focus, I like to pick a spot on the floor when I’m standing in the wings and repeat the first line I have to say when I get on stage or sometimes I will repeat my motivation or intention over and over again, depending on how I feel.
This gets me in the zone, present with what is happening and focused enough to execute my performance to the highest standard I can.
If I let other thoughts or situations distract me, its game over for my focus and game over for my performance.
4. Let go
Letting go to the moment on stage is one of the most cathartic experiences you could ever have.
The only way I can relate it to in real life is…
Do you ever have a cry and you feel really strangely good afterwards? Tired but completely satisfied and purged of anything that wasn’t serving you…
That is the feeling you get on stage every - single - night.
You don’t have to of cried, you just have to of authentically felt something on stage… good, bad, ugly, euphoric!
You have the privilege of stepping into someone else’s life and bringing your emotions and humanity out of yourself to serve them.
Which isn’t something many of us do consciously in real life, we very rarely fully feel. Instead, we numb it with substances, we make ourselves ‘happy’ scrolling through instagram and watching cute videos of dogs, but most of the time, in truth, we don’t fully feel.
Now, I appreciate what some of you might say…
“But your job is to depict humans, so surely you should be doing what they do? Numbing how they numb in order to show the human experience?”
Well… no, that’s not exactly how it works. As much as we want to be truthful to the human experience, we are always on some level in a heightened emotional situation. The stakes are usually pretty high because that’s what makes great stories on stage or screen.
So, we are pushed to feel something more and we don’t have the option or the time to numb it when we are on stage, so we FEEL it. And my goodness, is it beautiful!
A complete release of the soul and it’s there for all to see.
In a way, the fact that it is being seen is what makes it even more cathartic.
5. Enjoy it!
One of the biggest things I’ve learnt about live performance is you have to enjoy it! Otherwise, what’s the point?
Much like life, you blink and it’s gone! You’ve got the chance to bring that character to life and do justice to the story you are telling. The story and the character you have worked so hard on, so you better make sure you enjoy it!
If you don’t enjoy it, then what are you gaining from it?
If I didn’t enjoy and be absolutely in love with what I was doing then I would probably have switched careers a long while ago. I know you’ve probably heard it a million times, but acting and the arts is a tough industry because we are blessed with so many talented people on this planet.
So you have to be determined to be successful and stick with it, but you also have to enjoy when you are on stage because it then makes all those tough parts so bloomin’ worth it.
Hope you all have great weeks and enjoy the sunshine!