Also: Performance Anxiety
F. M. Alexander
There are two references to stage fright by Alexander, both referring to him putting on Hamlet and The Merchant of Venice in Sydney with pupils who had never performed before. In his 1925 lecture he related this story:
On the opening night, a very eminent man was stage-managing for me. He rushed into my room five minutes before the curtain, and said, ‘Alexander, I hear these young people have never appeared in public before.’
I said, ‘That is true.’
He said, ‘You are mad.’
I said, ‘Oh, no, what are you afraid of?’
‘Stage fright,’ he said.
I said, ‘They don’t know it, trained as they have been trained. It is impossible.’ I said, ‘I am going to call them all on stage and tell them there is no prompter tonight.’ There was no stage fright.
In his autobiographical sketch (c. 1950) Alexander writes:
The result of the teaching became sufficiently satisfactory to encourage me to give my pupils an opportunity to meet the test of a public appearance in Hamlet and The Merchant of Venice depending entirely upon the training I could give them. The announcement of my intention to do this brought many comments, chiefly in the way of warnings of the risk of ‘stage-fright’ and the like, if I cast these plays with pupils who had never previously appeared in Shakespearean drama, or had any stage experience. To me, this made the experiment the more interesting because my teaching is basically one of changing and controlling reaction by means-whereby, which made for confidence in the pupils’ reaction in any activities in which they were adequately trained and, in time, in their activities in living. . . . From my point of view the result of the test was highly satisfactory, for there wasn’t a hitch in the performance. No stage fright, the prompter need not have been present, and the stagecraft was, in the words of the stage-manager, up to professional standard.
Elizabeth Langford addressed the issue in her article ‘Performance anxiety’ for her book, Mind, Muscle and Music.
The use of the Alexander Technique for alleviating stage fright is examined in the interview ‘Alexander Technique interventions for stage fright’ by with Michael Frederick and Elaine Williams by Kathleen Juhl.
‘Stage fright’ by Ulfried Tölle is an investigation into stage fright, in allowing oneself to be out of control and to be present and to act, by a horn player and Alexander Technique teacher.
‘Stage well-being – Using the Alexander Technique during the act of performing music’ by Joseph Sanders presents some steps to prevent fear using vision, hearing and attention, instead of reacting to stage fright with psychophysical narrowing.
See also Acting, Fear.