I always get nervous before a performance.
My parents told me that that was for the best.
If you didn’t get nervous before going on stage, you’d appear wooden and flat. You wouldn’t have the energy you needed to impart to the audience, to capture their imagination.
That was the magic of the theatre. The seasoned pro’s were master wizards, drawing up their nervous energy and throwing it over the crowds like a net.
It’s a net of emotions that captivates and ensnares the audience. It creates a connection, so they feel everything the actor feels. They experience the trauma of the character’s past, the character’s terror as the drama unfolds or the adoration as the character falls in love.
It is magic; a touch of stardust. It is also incredibly draining. An Actor gives so much of themselves, every performance, every night, that it is a miracle that every actor doesn’t end up in some kind of sanatorium after every run.
I’ve been treading the boards since I was seven, as part of my parents act, but now a grown man of thirty, and my parents now dead and gone, I know all the tricks of the trade. I wish I’d mastered my fear more. It is handy to be able to use the energy when I need to, but I can’t control my nerves and applying make-up with my hands trembling is such a nuisance. Often I end up with wonky eyebrows, but luckily no one in the audience seems to notice. None of the critics has ever said “Oh you must see Steve Layne in the latest adaptation of The Crucible, his eyebrows are such a scream!”. Critics being the way they are would have definitely said something, if they had noticed.
I have got better, at managing my nerves, I mean. As a kid I used to throw up quite a lot, before going on. Vomiting is never fun but imagine having to go on stage in front of an audience afterwards singing an upbeat song, like “The sun will come out tomorrow” with the horrible taste still in your mouth and worrying that you might have a bit of it on your chin.
It’s no bed of roses you know, this lark.
But then It’s all I’ve ever really known. My Mum and Dad were quite famous, you know? Ever heard of Mabel and Jeffrey? That was them. They travelled all over the colonies, as they were called then. I was born in Kenya. I’ve not quite had their success, but I work hard. I once worked with Bonnie Langford. I was only in the Chorus, but it was nice to be in something really good for a change.
Anyway, I had best get on and prepare my face. The curtain goes up in ten, so I’ve got to get into character. It’s been good to talk, take my mind off the nerves. Why not stick around and see the show? I’d be keen to hear what you think. I can see the critics now. “Steve Layne weaves his captivating spell once more on the audience!”
Well we’re all captives of our dreams, aren’t we?
See you after the show.
Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 12/March/2018