It’s that time of the year again when our local singers group, of which I have been a part for almost four years, takes to the stage. This year, we are presenting The Pirates of Penzance with five shows over the next two weekends. I am singing the role of Frederic, a 21 year old pirate – this is going to stretch the talents of our makeup team to the limits!
This week we have been in final rehearsals. Every night, backstage, before we go on, one of my fellow pirates whispers to me: ‘Are you nervous?’ We have some banter, then head onstage and we’re off. The reality is that however well prepared I am, I always have some nerves. I was talking with one of our senior members, a seasoned actor, and he told me that he will be shaking on opening night, so it never goes away.
This got me thinking. I would be more worried if I WASN’T nervous than if I was. I recall a conversation I had with our Musical Director, Margaret Taylor. Margaret had a long and distinguished career in the UK as a principal soprano in the D’Oyly Carte company and the English National Opera. She said that she never stopped getting nervous, and still does now as she conducts our orchestra and cast. Margaret’s take on it is that you should harness the nerves to create energy when you are on the stage. It’s a great philosophy.
I think when you stop feeling the butterflies it’s a message that you’re staying too much in your comfort zone. In your professional life, you need to constantly stretch yourself and try new things. My business partner, Rob Nixon, talks about building the plane as you fly it – in other words, if you wait till it’s perfect, you will never try anything. That’s a great way to jump in the deep end and thrive on the thrill of not knowing what might happen! You should try it some time – you might find the energy you create lifts your performance in front of your clients.