About The Work Actors Studio

Six-Week Cold Reading and Scene Study or On Camera Audition Technique Class at About The Work (Up to 58% Off)

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What You'll Get

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  • Six-Week Cold Reading and Scene Study Class
  • Six-Week On Camera Audition Technique Class

Stage Fright: A Primal Instinct

Whether giving a wedding toast or performing karaoke, anyone can fall victim to stage fright. Read on to learn about the physiology behind this common affliction.

Sure, it’s an old joke, but according to polls, most people at a funeral really would rather be in the coffin than giving the eulogy. Indeed, stage fright is one of the most common phobias, ahead of heights, flying, and even death itself. Like most phobias, stage fright is caused by an irrational perception of impending danger that doesn’t actually exist. Charles Darwin dubbed this response “fight or flight syndrome” after conducting an experiment at the zoo: pressing his face to the protective glass between him and a snake, he would still jump back when the snake lunged toward him. “My will and reason were powerless,” he wrote, “against the imagination of a danger which had never been experienced.”

Though Darwin’s observation explains the response to a physical threat, the same mechanism kicks in when many of us face an audience. As social animals, humans care about their reputations. Public speaking can present a threat to a person’s reputation through embarrassment. The primitive parts of the brain kick into action when orating, processing the negative consequences of embarrassment the same way they might process a lion threatening to pull your hair. The hypothalamus triggers the pituitary gland to secrete the hormone ACTH. This in turn stimulates the adrenal glands in the kidneys and sends a rush of adrenaline into the bloodstream. Muscles in the neck and back may contract and blood pressure may increase. The digestive system shuts down to maximize delivery of nutrients and oxygen to vital organs, which is what can cause dry mouth and the sensation of butterflies in your stomach. Pupils may dilate, making it hard to read anything up close but improving long-range visibility to home in on blank faces staring back at you.

The intensity of stage fright can be affected by genetics, level of task mastery, and situational stakes, and not even trueborn stars are immune. Barbra Streisand has talked openly about her struggles with decades-long stage fright stemming from a concert in 1967 in which she forgot the lyrics to a song. According to an NPR profile, Ella Fitzgerald is actually famous because of her stage fright. During an amateur night at Harlem’s Apollo Theater, she had planned on dancing, but a sudden bout of stage fright inspired her to sing instead—catching the ear of bandleader Chick Webb, who invited the 16-year-old unknown to join his orchestra.

The Fine Print

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About About The Work Actors Studio

What services does your business offer and what makes your business stand out from the competition?

We offer cold reading, scene study and on camera work and do an extensive warmup through the chakras before every class. All acting classes are individually based on your specific needs and goals, which is always discussed in a one on one meeting after the first class.

What was the inspiration to start or run this business?

It was important to me to create and maintain a safe place for actors to push themselves out of their comfort zones on an on-going basis and I hadn't found a place that provided that in Los Angeles. This kind of environment was so important to me in my own growth that it spurred me to start About The Work, early 2013.

What do you love most about your job?

I am extremely thrilled and lucky to be working with actors who care so much about not only their own craft, but also their peers.

What is the best reaction you've ever gotten from a customer?

When they book the gig that we prepped together! My latest student just booked Shameless! I really enjoy when an actor has a breakthrough, it’s a win for them but also a win for me. I absolutely love what I do and get fully invested in the growth of each actor.

About The Work Actors Studio

Class, Skill & Hobby, Fun or Leisure, Acting Class
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