Author: Bella Merlin
Publisher: Nick Hern Books
Reviewer: John Roberts
“You’re standing on the stage in front of a packed auditorium. All eyes are on you. The lights. The darkness. The moment of glory. Then suddenly – out of nowhere – the dry mouth… the sweaty palms… the shaking knees… and the empty head. Lines well learnt – now lost in space. The feeling of falling… failing… freaking out… and fainting. And then you wake up!”
Ask any actor have they ever had the actor’s nightmare and I bet you almost all of them will say yes. The paragraph above from Bella Merlin’s new book Facing the Fear –An Actor’s Guide to Overcoming Stage Fright is engrained in almost every actor’s mind… but the reality is, it isn’t just something actors dream of… many performers suffer this anxiety on a regular basis… in fact I know performers who are sick and suffer panic attacks before every single performance. Overtime of course you learn to live with the nerves and the stress and convert that energy into something positive. Merlin’s book brings to light many ways in which we can face “The Fear” head on and conquer it to ensure every performance we give is full of confidence and joy.
Merlin with her many years of teaching and performing has created an insightful, illuminative and life changing manual for the actor… it challenges us to question why we want to be on the stage, it helps us find ways of coping with some of the biggest challenges we face including dealing with difficult roles, remembering lines, the trouble with badly directed shows… almost any aspect that could bring anxiety to an actor is brought to the front and dissected in an engaging and informative way. Merlin also offers us practical guides and exercises in combating the fright and ensuring that “the fear” stays at stagedoor and ensure the actor has the most enjoyable time on the boards as possible.
This book should be on top of every performers reading list… new or distinguished performer there is something that everyone can take from Merlin’s book to ensure you never have to wake up in the middle of the night covered in sweat again! Remember fear isn’t abnormal… it’s human, we just need to find a way to deal with it.