The din of the audience entering and finding their seats filters through the curtains to where you are standing.
“Places in ten!”
“Thank you, ten!”
You’re already in your place. You shift your weight back and forth. You run the first words of your first line a few times in your head. This is the time to pump yourself up. It’s show time! It’s go time! What do you do?
I’d like to hear from you in the comments below about what you do in your final moments before the curtain opens. In the meantime, I’ll share a few of my favorites. These not only channel some of the nervous energy that can befall even seasoned performers, but also bolster your stage presence (which I believe contributes highly to that intangible “X-factor” that we admire in a performer). Some might work for you. Some might feel dumb. It’s okay; they’re not for everyone!
[for the inner wizard]
Cup your hands around an imaginary orb. See it. It’s fairly small, but it’s glowing and swirling. It’s your favorite color. Spread your fingers apart. See the orb grow in size slightly. Separate your hands slightly, and see the orb grow even more. The energy in the orb is starting to increase on it’s own. Your hands have to separate a bit more to contain it. Strain to compress the orb and get it down to a more manageable size. It resists, and grows and take more of your concentration and focus to contain it. Finally, it becomes too much! Launch it straight out from your body with both hands. It bounces off the wall and comes back at you. You catch it. You have mastered it. Plug it into your chest like Iron Man, or hurl it at an orc. It’s up to you.
[for the inner superhero]
This one is actually more scientific. According to The Winner Effect by Ian Robertson, just by taking on a certain physical stance, you can trigger the release of testosterone, the hormone responsible for aggression and confidence. This is regardless of your gender, by the way. Stand with your feet slightly further apart than shoulder-width. Ever-so-slightly bend your knees and elbow to assume a solid, ready-for-anything stance, as if you’re ready for a fight. Your brain will chemically prepare itself for whatever challenge lies ahead.
[for the inner heavyweight]
A little bit of physical exercise like air-boxing or jumping jacks will release some of that nervous energy (don’t over-do it as to lose all your nervous energy and tire yourself out) and focus your brain to do what it came here to do. Your heart may already be pumping heavily before the show; some exercise will give it a purpose.
[for the inner Olympian]
Pick a song that pumps you up. Better yet, pick a song that would pump your character up. Plug in your headphones, close your eyes, and let yourself be transported to wherever the music takes you. Just don’t miss your cue!
Your turn! What do you do before a show to prepare yourself? Share in the comments below!