J5

All the World’s a Stage…

How I ended up on stage alone despite a serious case of stage fright

Last year I handed my youth drama director a forwarded e-mail my grandfather had sent me that I thought she would be interested in looking over as an idea for a future skit. So when she told me a few days later that she had already adapted it into a script and wanted me to play one of the parts, I said yes. Unfortunately for me, I only skimmed the stage directions and hadn’t realized that I would be the only one on stage. Acting out a six minute skit. In front of the whole church –twice. When I did figure that out, I was petrified.

Although I may be fairly good at acting like I’m extroverted because of many other personality traits that trump my fear of talking to people, acting on stage is just acting. I don’t have any personality traits that do away with the butterflies I get in my stomach, or the shaking hands, or my heart beating faster than a freight train, or way I start breathing like I’ve just run a marathon. When I’m up on stage, it doesn’t matter how well I know my part. No matter what, I am always nervous.

I thought about asking my drama director if we could film the skit so that there wasn’t quite so much pressure on me, but right before I asked, she sent me an e-mail saying that she had secured us a time slot during the worship service, something that had only happened twice before. Now I was stuck. No one else could learn the skit in time, and no one else really wanted the part anyway. There had been many condolences that came my way after we found out that I was to be on stage by myself, while the actor playing God wouldn’t even need to have his lines memorized, seeing as no one would be able to see him.

The Sunday I was to perform the skit came, along with an early morning sound check and a last run through before we had an actual audience. By then my stomach had tied itself in a very complex knot that nothing I tried could untangle. Even the other actor’s jokes and funny voices couldn’t take my mind off of the swiftly approaching skit. Finally it was time to sneak out of the Sunday School room to head downstairs to the door that lead onstage. The service was running late too, so the two minutes of waiting to go on became five anxious minutes of reciting my lines to myself under my breath, praying for God’s peace, as I tried to slow my racing heart.

Hands shaking, heart pounding, stomach churning, and breath catching in my throat, I walked on stage to take a seat in front of the crowd, waiting for my cue. As the light switched on, and I began, “Our Father who art in Heaven,” my fear fled, just like it always does, in the face of God’s peace.

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