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Answers from The Learned Ladies: Part 2 - Opening Night Fears

(© Gianfranco Lentini)
Now that both Hurricane Sandy and the 2012 Presidential Election are behind us, it's time for Hofstra University to look forward to opening night of their final production of the semester, Molière's satire, The Learned Ladies. After many delays, cancellations, and numerous emergency rehearsals, the cast and crew of the production worked their magic over countless hours to get the show up and running for opening night on Friday, November 9.

As opening crept closer and tech week continued to progress, I found myself beginning to feel those familiar nerves I know all too well as opening night fears. As the Assistant Stage Manager, I found myself wondering, "How do the actors do it? How do they become so comfortable on stage?" To get some answers, I talked to the "Learned Ladies" themselves and asked them, "How do you get over opening night fears?" Here's what they told me:

Distract Yourself

Mary St. Angelo, Philaminte, Senior

"One thing I do to get over jitters is distract myself. I end up putting all my worries into my hair and makeup and costume, and I say, "Oh my god, this looks horrible," or "Oh, I have to fix this. This doesn't look right." Worrying about that distracts me from worrying about the performance. And then once I go on, it's just like every other day. Once you go for the first time, it's fine."

Focus Your Energy

Corinne Mestemacher, Armande, Junior

"I get really bad butterflies, and instead of focusing on the butterflies or what could go wrong, I try and focus on that energy that I feel in my stomach and put it into the preparation for the character and show. As long as you're focused on not you as the actor getting scared for what the audience is going to think or what is going to happen, and you think more about the character and focus more on what's happening in the show, those insecurities will go away."

Concentrate on the Other Actors

Lizzie Parot, Henriette, Senior

"You should really just concentrate on the other person or the other people in the scene. Concentrate on what your intention is, what it is you want to get from them. And just keep in mind the fact that you've been working all this time, up to this very moment, and that you are way more prepared than you yourself know."

Recite Your Lines

Laura Walsh, Bélise, Junior

"I don't necessarily get fears before opening night, but it's more like excitement and adrenaline, things that allow me to put energy into my work. A lot of the time, I will actually say all of my lines in the show, so I will go off into a corner and say every single line that I have just so that I know that it's there."