As I have spent every opening night of my life wracked with anxiety and borderline melodramatic panic, I certainly do not consider myself a stranger to pre-show nerves. But I approached An Ideal Husband’s opening night with uncharacteristic chillness because I felt I had I had no business feeling any other way.
Stage fright, in my experience, comes from a fear of the vast potential of the as-yet-unfulfilled—the idea that one has the simultaneous ability to knock the performance out of the park (pun intended), but also to miss every entrance, deliver lines robotically, or start speaking in the wrong language (a thing I actually did once). As I was not acting in this show, I could not share these fears, and assumed I would therefore be cool as a cucumber. I had nothing left to do; the director’s job ends when the show opens.
Obviously, my plan did not go as expected. Happily, the anxiety I felt was a far cry from my usual, nausea-inducing frenzy. But as eight o’clock ticked nearer, an unmistakable fluttering surfaced in the pit of my stomach.
I wanted to be annoyed that my brain once again managed to foil my perpetually unfulfilled goal of being cool/laid back—after all, I had a logically sound opportunity to be chill, and I blew it. But honestly, I was thrilled to welcome the familiar feeling of mounting adrenaline.
Nerves come when you care about something too much; when you desperately hope that thing succeeds; and that passion is exhilarating and addicting. I love acting for many reasons, but when I feel innately compelled to it, it is because I crave the stage fright which makes me feel so full of life. Learning that this thrill can come in other perspectives in the theatrical process was the cherry on top of my experience working on this show.