Thursday, June 2, 2016

Final Productions / Dealing with Stage Fright

Heather Keith, Opera for All Teaching Artist

From now until the end of the CPS school year my schedule is filled with dress rehearsals and show days. When we get to this point, I undoubtedly have a few students come up to me and confess they struggle with stage fright. I think in a society that is preoccupied with standards being met and test grades being perfect I completely understand where these students are coming from. To help my students overcome their fears I am making an effort to remind my students to enjoy the process.  I see them struggle with self-doubt as they prepare to vulnerably put themselves out in front of an audience., something all great performers struggle with. I tell them that what helps me the most is trusting in my cast, trusting that if I get lost the other people on stage will help me find my way back.  That trust is formed in rehearsal and I encourage them to not stress so much about the finished product. Explaining that if you put the work in the rehearsal room and you have faith in the people around you, the product will undoubtedly be there.  

Reilly Students rehearsing their opera

Chase students practicing their dance

This idea of not living for the product brings to mind something a director once told me about the rehearsal process in general. He said “If you are waiting for the run of the show to enjoy the production you are missing the point. The production is created in the rehearsal process; the actual show is anti climatic. “ I feel this is so poignant when applied to the work Opera for all does.   While the shows are important they are not nearly as important as the bonds these students are making and the skills they are honing.  I have seen so much growth this year. I have seen shy students face their fears and sing solos in front of their peers and I have seen friendships form where before they didn’t exist. I have seen empathy beyond what I thought possible from a 4th grader. This process has been incredible and while I am confident these students will put on amazing shows that will stay with them, I believe the work they have put in during the accumulation of this year makes a far more lasting mark.  

McAuliffe student waiting for his entrance.

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