How to Manage Your ‘Fear’ as a Performer

Actors have egos; they need them but the ego can be a stumbling block to success. There’s a risk every time you take to the stage that something could go wrong and you’d lose your edge in what is a highly competitive industry. But take a deep breath – you’re not alone in your fears, nor are you on your own in the need to find ways to overcome them.

What Causes Your Fear?

It’s important that you first understand the root of your fear. Do you undervalue your acting ability? Do you have nagging self-doubts about your acting skills and technique that rear their ugly head at the wrong time? As an actor, do you lack restraint and allow negative thoughts to spiral you into panic? If so, you need to step back for a moment and rethink things. You wouldn’t be on that stage or set if you hadn’t done something very right.

You have clearly proven yourself to the director (and anyone involved in the casting for that matter). Now you need to trust not only your director but yourself – find that inner rock and lay firm your anchor. Know that you CAN do this, and that your abilities are just right for your role. Now, this doesn’t mean becoming overly arrogant. Assurance is fine – becoming a drama king or queen is NOT.

Do You feel Your Actor Training Has Under-Prepared You?

Some actors feel they lack training or feel they’re background is poorly suited to a role. These two things are easily fixed. Go get the training you want/need! Study up on a role using whatever research sources you have available. You’ll find that just getting out and doing something helps allay a lot of nagging doubts.

Is Real Life Interfering With Your Acting?

Another potential source of fear is preoccupation with other “real life” issues. Sometimes our real world becomes overwhelming. With actors that feeling may translate to the stage. This is when you need to disconnect from those daily issues, and reconnect with your character. Let it become a break from the mundane for a while.

You Are Your Own Worst Enemy

A fourth common reason for fear is being your own worst critic. You’re not perfect. Get over it and get on with your role. Constantly requiring yourself to live up to unreasonable standards can hold you back and increase nervousness geometrically. Also you should know that while stage fright is irrational, it’s also very human. It’s ok to be human!

Get A Grip On your Emotions

If you find you fall into one of these four groups, there are ways to level out your emotions. Breathing techniques are among the most common – deep, even breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth while mindfully relaxing your body. Another thing that seems to work is simple re-direction. Shake out your nerves.. pace, yell, dance, do something totally silly. If you can learn to laugh at the situation, the fears will slowly wane and you’ll have all that energy to give to your role.

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Tuirenn Hurstfield
About the author

Tuirenn has over twenty years' experience as a professional and freelance theatre director, producer, playwright and acting coach based in the North West of England and working nationally and internationally. He is an avid lover of nature, books & real music • a proud Ravenclaw • dog dad to Frodo • and is following the Druidic path • 🏳️‍🌈

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