These are the words I hear from at least one child on opening night for every show. Whether they're nervous because of a challenging scene or song or simply because they have a fear of public speaking, most actors--regardless of age--experience a little stage fright from time to time.
My standard response to an actor dealing with anxiety is that feeling nervous is a good thing. Those butterflies show up because an actor cares. Actors don't want to let down the other performers, the audience, or themselves. If an actor doesn't feel nervous...well, that's when we all need to be concerned.
Nerves are part of working behind the scenes, too.
Even though I don't perform in the productions I direct, I always worry about whether I've done my best to engage the audience. On some occasions, like with our upcoming production of Starry Messenger, I have a little more anxiety. I'm nervous in part because this production is just plain challenging. We have original music, a lot of technical elements, and a unique style of storytelling. I'm also nervous because this is a show I've wanted to direct for a really long time, and I want to get it right.
I could have easily chosen a simpler show, but that's no fun. What kind of example am I setting for my students if I take the easy way out? Choosing a challenging script was right for me, and it was right for them. We're on this journey together. We're learning an awful lot about ourselves. And when we turn to each other on opening night and say, "I'm scared," what we're really saying is, "We're in this together, and it's going to be great!"
Starry Messenger runs March 1-10, and tells the story of Galileo through delightful music, visuals, and creative storytelling. This production is recommended for audience members age 8 and up. For more information on this or any other program at The Theatre of Western Springs, call 708-246-4043 or visit www.theatreofwesternsprings.com