Actor and teacher Jeffrey Tambor describes how fear can impact presence and creativity in performances and auditions, and how to shift the experience of fear.
“I think the main idea behind my teaching is the issue of fear and how we use that to our advantage,” he writes.
“We are all fear-based creatures. And fear can be the great killer. It kills your original impulses, your creativity, and it kills desire.
“Rather than deny fear, we have to find new ways of dealing with it. We actually have to dance with it, so to speak.
“You can never be great if you are afraid of being bad.
“We find ourselves second-guessing what people want, based on fear. Rather than trying to guess what ‘they’ want, I teach, Why not bring your original fingerprint into the room and present yourself as the solution to their problems?
“The ever-present ‘they’ are fear-based too. They are looking to have their problems solved by an actor who comes into the room, declares his talent boldly, and brings his personal point of view to his work.
“It’s as simple as that — although getting to that place is the trick, and a teacher should show you how to get there.”
It goes beyond acting
“By the way, and at the risk of sounding too important, I think this approach begins to inform your life as well. Life and art. They are obviously interwoven.
“People get a little skittish when we talk about art. I feel that creative ventures are hardly worth doing unless they are shooting high. What’s the point of aiming for the middle?
“In fact, we should stop aiming altogether. Get lost in the work. Break it apart. Make it messy. Then, and only then, can you begin to reconstruct it with meaning and a point of view. You have to declare yourself to be an artist. And know that it takes a lot of hard work to get there.”
From The Integrity of Teaching, by Jeffrey Tambor, Backstage.com.
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Coach and author Lisa Jimenez warns that “fear (and all of its cousins like worry, anxiety, depression and self-doubt) will turn your dreams into a chilling nightmare.”
But, she adds, “It doesn’t have to be this way. Fear was never intended to put you in a state of paralysis. The reality of fear is that fear is human. In all the research I did for my book, “Conquer Fear!” I heard story after story of successful people who experienced fear. What I noticed was the successful person was willing to face and expose their fear.”
What we call fear may really be excitement: emotional and physiological arousal. Creativity coach and author Eric Maisel, PhD notes it can sometimes be hard to distinguish nervous tension from anxiety or fear.
“I don’t like being stagnant. I want to continue to grow and just be better at what I do, and the only way to do that is to keep stepping outside of your comfort zone.”
For many actors and other people, though, fear may be more extreme – reaching the level of anxiety – which can interfere with creative expression, or even the courage to audition in the first place.
For help, see the article Actors and Anxiety – Get Help For Your Stage Fright, and other material on the Anxiety Relief Solutions site.
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