To William Shakespeare “all the world’s a stage,” but for me, the stage is my world.
I love Shakespeare. One of my favorite passages is the aforementioned section from As You Like It: “All the world’s a stage,/ And all the men and women merely players:/ They have their exits and their entrances;/ And one man in his time plays many parts …”
I like the metaphor, the poetry, the flow. I like the imagery and simple truth Will puts out there. We are all performers, in some way, every day of our lives.
My darkest days are the ones lacking stage time. No offense intended to Shakespeare’s metaphors, but I mean this quite literally. I am a life-long performer. I am addicted to the stage.
Hi, my name is Stefanie, and I’m addicted to performing. And to Shakespeare.
Many articles and surveys have shown that fear of public speaking and/or stage fright consistently ranks in the top ten things people fear, right up there with death, snakes and heights.
I confess that these findings baffle me. And maybe they shouldn’t, because I’ve seen stage fright at its worst. I’ve seen performers throw up before shows, or resort to drugs and alcohol to take the edge off. Some people shake so bad you’d think they were on drugs. One of my best friends is completely terrified of any kind of performance … She clams up when in front of more than just a few friends. When we had to give speeches for classes in school, she wouldn’t be able to eat for days in advance.
I simply can’t relate.
I performed in my first dance recital when I was three years old. My father tape recorded the entire event (and has since amassed an embarrassingly large library of my life on and off stage). I admit that I looked nervous while my mother attempted to tame my ridiculously large ’80s hair. But if I did have any reservations pre-show, they were long gone by time I took the stage. I am easy to spot on the tape: Big hair, big smile, and the only three-year-old who could keep a tempo.
I think that may have been my closest encounter with stage fright. I went on that night, and never looked back.
As I’ve gotten older, the lines between stage and life have become more and more obscured in my mind. In some ways this Shakespearian philosophy is positive: Thinking of life as a stage helped me survive and overcome years of considerable social awkwardness as a teenager. It continues to help me face new circumstances in life without fear or reservations. On the other hand, I sometimes feel very detached from real situations. I act strong when I feel weak; I act happy when I am swimming in sadness. I am not afraid, when sometimes perhaps I should be. I have to remind myself that I don’t always have to act the part … Just in time to remind myself that I do, in fact, have to act the part.
I am the part I play.
“Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.”
Will, I hope you’re right about that.