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The Craft

What to Do Before You Walk Onto a Stage or Set

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What to Do Before You Walk Onto a Stage or Set

Affirmations may seem hokey, but bringing them—the modern-day version of the long-practiced religious mantra—into your craft can have very positive effects.

Affirmations are specific phrases or keywords that put the speaker in a positive state of mind. I wrote a few weeks back about leaving the world outside at the door, but what goes in its place? Before you begin your work you have to move away from frustration, anxiety, and nerves and into the “zone,” the state in which you do your best work. Affirmations can help you get there.

When I was in college, I was lucky enough to work with actor and teacher Jim Edmondson. Jim introduced me to affirmations, and though I don’t practice them with consistency, the phrases he taught us still come to me when I prep for any large challenge, and before I walk onto a stage or set. I roll down my spine (like a good little actor) and after rolling up I stand with my eyes closed and repeat his words. While I won’t share them all, I will ask you to consider this, the simplest and most powerful phrase he gave us: I have a right to be here.

While I’m not one for self-help books and crystals, the spare truth and logic of Jim’s phrase has carried me through many a challenge. His affirmation doesn’t ask you to say you’re the best, the most, or even that you’re special—it only asks you to remember you have a right to be where you are, a right to be an artist.

Jackie Apodaca is an associate professor and the head of performance at Southern Oregon University.

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