Stage Fright

I wonder sometimes what the difference is between stage fright and writer’s block. Or, if indeed, there is one at all. There have been many swells of time when nothing could stop me. There are entire calendar years when the main feeling in me is pure terror.

Some people think nerves are reserved for amateurs. I disagree. You have to get back up in front of people in spite of what’s going on in there. You have to work beyond what you think other people think of you.

There is nothing like bombing in front of an audience. The feeling that nothing you do will create any kind of stir in them. A lump of people refusing to let their guard down. A gaggle of couch potatoes who are talking to each other. A cabal of impenetrable hipsters or jaded old-timers who have seen it all.

I grew up in a place where people talked with you after a show. In New York, most people seem to be over it. Talking is for amateurs and losers. People don’t really discuss craft. They quibble about meaning and contextualization.

Our collect unconscious is still fragile. Event Theater is reigning over plot. Commenting and not really engaging is winning over humanity. Aristotle is keening tonight.

A good portion of my life’s been spent trying to answer the question of how one becomes a good actor. The unspoken response seems to be that one must become famous and then people will give a shit. I know that answer has nothing to do with the question. It also has nothing to do with stage fright.

I think it is time we get the critics of our fair city to start becoming like freak jazz fans. They should have a deep knowledge of who is working beyond the commercial world. There seems to be a notion that one must have risen to a certain point in order to be worthy of notice. I disagree. The critics who complain that the quality is low should start scouting and using their pulpits to raise the level of work back up to where we think it was. In truth, we should be growing and evolving beyond that place.

And, really, the stars should be looking out for people to bring up that make them better too. It’s what musicians do when they hire opening acts.

Who is the unknown Jimi Hendrix of the stage?

The theater like the housing market has been inflated by a false economy for too long. The value of things have been thrown off by marketing and money. Those things don’t make for good art.

Stage fright and writer’s block mean you’re onto something. You have to push towards it. The thing I fear more and more is the lack of caring out there.

One thought on “Stage Fright

  1. sjml says:

    I once read an essay by Laurence Olivier on how he had a crippling case of stage fright in the middle of a run after had been acting for several decades. It’s far from limited to amateurs.

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