• Angela

Stage Anxiety!!! Still?

I love the theatre, performing it, watching it, talking about it.

I’ve done 4 plays professionally, One Man Two Guvnors, Breeders, Stepping Out and The Captive Queen. Each one has been brilliant and terrifying in their own way.

When I was a child I was a member of a children’s theatre group in Leeds and its what enticed me into the industry in the first place.

I was very lucky at 16 to get the role of Fiona in Coronation Street and from there I went from tv job to tv job. It was only during a 15 month lull in my career that One Man at the Theatre Royal Haymarket came up and my theatre career was born.

I love the rehearsal period, analysing the play, experimenting with different ways of doing it, creating a show. I also love the company feel, being part of a team where everyone is relying on everybody else, the trust required in a company is huge.

When the opportunity to do a two hander at The Park Theatre in Finsbury Park came up I was intrigued, then once I read the script I was certain that I wanted to do this job no matter what. Good job really as the pay for ‘off West End’ shows is pitiful, I truly don’t understand how actors are supposed to survive on these wages. Because I had done a shiny North American job I was able to yes but if it hadn’t been for the The Detail theres no way I could have done it. We are on Equity minimum which is less than £400 a week.

We had three weeks rehearsal, a week of tech and previews, and then a 4 week run. Quite short in the grand scheme of things, some shows, like One Man go on for months and months.

I can’t quite work out if I’m enjoying myself yet! I am so nervous and worried all the time, in the run up to opening, the opening, the press night, every time I have a friend in, its a low level anxiety that I’m certain is going to knock years of my life.

With this particular production I have sooo many lines, not as many as my co-star Trevor White, but still lots and lots and lots. Before now I have always run my lines just before stepping onto the stage but of course that is impossible in the is show, so every night feels like throwing myself off a cliff and only after 80 minutes do I find out if somebody has put a net at the bottom of the said cliff.

Its strange as (so far) I haven’t forgotten my lines, I’ve had a little moment where they haven’t popped into my head for a millisecond, but nothing that anybody would notice. In fact, on press night Trever actually DID forget his line and just looked at me!!! I needed him to say a word, “process” for me to carry on but it wasn’t coming to him, so I had to wrack my brains, work out where I needed to be and then I created a sentence with the word in and then answered it myself. You’d thing that if i have the capacity to remember somebody else’s line then I should have confidence to know that I know my own. But I don’t. The brain is a crazy thing.

Press night was a brilliant night in the end and the show has received lots of 4 and 5 star reviews. Lots of my friends came and I felt really supported by them, Nicola Stephenson, Charlie Condou, Jemima Rooper, Kellie Shirlie, Owain Arthur, Hugo Spier and Paul Andrew Williams. Bryan Cranston from Breaking Bad and the glorious Juliet Stephenson were also there. I had chats with both and was equally star struck (but of course I styled it out).

Now we are into the run and you’d think the fear would dissipate…. it hasn’t, in fact I’m writing this knowing I have to leave for work in 90 minutes and already the anxiety is eating my tummy…. actually I’d better go and run all my lines again, just in case.

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