First I must quote from one of my teachers: ‘A fine artist is always nervous’. So don’t feel bad about being nervous. You are a fine artist, or you wouldn’t be in the show at all. Another thing to tell yourself, over and over again: ‘I love my audience’.
Meditation is a boon to performers. If you haven’t learnt how to meditate, make a start now. If you can’t find a meditation teacher, search the internet for online courses. Meditation is the best thing for calming nerves, although one – and only one!- very small glass of wine an hour or two before your call can also help.
The trick is to turn any nervousness into excitement. Get to the theatre in good time, and tell yourself it will be the best performance you’ve ever given, even if the dress rehearsal was a mess that didn’t finish until three in the morning of the same day.
On the way to the theatre, think of the people who are also making their way there – your fellow performers and the audience. Send love to them all, just by thinking of them, and mentally wishing them all a great evening.
Opening night is almost always the most nerve-wracking. (The only worse night is if halfway through the run you’re understudying a lead role and the performer you’re covering has fallen ill!) Take your time with wardrobe and make up. And somewhere in there, go to the loo! The last thing you need is to piss your pants onstage.
There is a special ‘feel’ to a first night audience. The folk out front are all hoping this will be an exciting night out. Sneak into the wings (if the stage manager will let you) and get the ‘feel’ of the house. Feel the excitement and anticipation out front, send them more love and remember that you are all there to have a good time.
Then take ten or a dozen slow breaths, and go ahead and have a good time!