Stage fright has the power to drive actors away from the stage for months, years, and even a lifetime. It is a monster that can affect any actor at any time – but it is also a challenge that can be met.
In Facing the Fear – the first book of its kind written specifically for actors – performer, author and teacher Bella Merlin draws on her own and other actors’ personal experiences to examine:
- The internal and external roots of stage fright, and how it manifests itself both psychologically and physiologically
- The complex relationship between the actor and the audience, and how it contributes to stage fright
- The cognitive processes of learning, storing and retrieving lines, and practical strategies to help
- The essential principles for building a healthy, fear-free rehearsal environment
- The techniques that actors can employ to develop their own practices, from tips on physical wellbeing to performance strategies
Insightful, empowering and always reassuring, Facing the Fear is a book for any actor: for those who are experiencing or have previously suffered from stage fright, as well as for those who want to be fully prepared in case that day ever comes. It provides all the tools actors need to understand, confront and ultimately overcome stage fright and its effects, thereby regaining control over their lives and careers. (And it might just save a fortune in psychotherapist’s fees!)
It’s also valuable reading for any teacher, director or stage manager working closely with actors, and a fascinating insight for anyone interested in what actors go through.
‘An utterly engrossing book about confronting one of the most fundamental aspects of being an actor – fear.’ Antony Sher
Extract: six strategies for facing and embracing the fear. Read an extract from Facing the Fear, published in The Stage.
Blog Post: Bella Merlin on her own experience of stage fright... 'What a nightmare! Tonight I had every actor’s worst possible scenario. I get midway through a sentence – and my brain shuts down.' Read more >>
'Insightful, illuminative and life-changing… this book should be on the top of every performer's reading list'
'Fascinating and incredibly informative… well researched, excellently structured and helpfully user-friendly… a special book that deserves a special place on anyone's bookshelf concerned, directly or indirectly, with acting'
'This is an important book because I don’t recall anyone writing in such depth and with such honesty about stage fright before… I hope tutors recommend this book to all performance students and that actors, however experienced, will read it and feel strengthened'
'A strong blend of hard evidence, fact and anecdote... detailed but very accessible... a practical book with plenty of advice'
Bella Merlin successfully combines a professional acting career in Britain and America with teaching internationally at drama schools, universities and theatres. Professor of Acting and Directing at the University of California, Riverside, her publications include Beyond Stanislavsky: The Psycho-Physical Approach to Actor-Training, The Complete Stanislavsky Toolkit and Acting: The Basics.