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Turning Stage Fright into Stage Excitement!

April 3, 2017

“Being in a crowded room with people of all ages, learning new songs and dance routines --- knowing we’ll get to flub up over and over for a long time, but eventually, we’ll come into synch together and perform in front of the wider community. Spring will follow us right around the corner.”

I recently wrote the above at a writing workshop, in response to the question: “What Sweetens Winter?” Shrek! The Musical is my third production with ACT, and I’ve happily discovered that participating with Acadia Community Theater brings some of the greatest joys of my life. I love being a member of a company where people are dedicated: giving their best selves, time and energy. The playfulness thoroughly nourishes me, and the serious commitment we all make to each other and the production brings deep satisfaction and pleasure.

During last year’s spring production of Willy Wonka, my return to the stage after many years, I experienced mind-numbing Stage Fright. Backstage, awaiting the cue for the Oompa Loompas to enter, I temporarily became an orange-faced, green-haired deer in the headlights! For several unsettling seconds, I completely blanked out: “Which scene are we entering? Which song are we singing?” Those few disorienting and confusing seconds felt like they lasted much longer.

As a yoga teacher and long-time yogini, I sought out a yogic approach to address this challenge. After all, fear and excitement share similar physiological responses: dry mouth, increased heart beat, sweaty palms… After signing up for The Nutcracker, I decided to turn my stage fright into Stage Excitement! Stage Anticipation! I found a simple 11-minute meditation to practice daily leading up to the show: Release Fear of the Future.” I practiced consistently for 40 days prior to opening night. Astonished, I found myself backstage calm, alert, ready to go onstage absolutely free of anxiety!

As you may imagine, the time commitment and hard work by all involved to put on a production of this scale can be challenging. We all lead full lives outside of the theater, and it is a stretch to get everything tended to in time. Two additional yoga practices are supporting me as we enter the “heat of production” leading up to opening night for Shrek!: “Nine Minutes to Alleviate Stress” and a five-minute immune system booster, “The Inner Sun.” (I’m happy to teach these practices to anybody, whether or not you are in Shrek!)

I’m profoundly grateful for ACT and the many people who support community theater. Thank you for this opportunity!  I love getting to know fellow community members through this venue, sharing the stage with each other. I appreciate the magnitude of courage and talent, both onstage and off.

A rewarding experience, indeed! If you’ve been considering joining in, please do! Let the magic of community theater into your life and heart!

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