To have the confidence you want on stage or in the audition room, you have to be willing to go the extra mile. To rehearse and practice more than others. To go beyond what your body and mind think is enough. When you go the extra mile and drill your work over and over, that is when your skills become sharp and your confidence grows.
This past year, I was asked to perform my current solo show, “The American Soldier,” plus a new solo show I was commissioned to write and perform for the Library of Congress. The deadline was tight and the work was intense but I knew that in order to have the confidence I wanted on stage, I needed to rehearse after my scheduled rehearsal. I had to go the extra mile.
After rehearsing with my director, I felt physically and mentally exhausted, and that little voice inside me would start talking. “Doug, you’ve done enough, you need to rest.” But I knew I couldn’t listen, that I needed to spend additional time rehearsing in order to perform at my best and have the confidence I wanted on stage.
I rehearsed with the director for three-to-four hours at a time. When he left, I’d run through the whole show again, sometimes twice. That time was where I gained my confidence as a performer. Extensive rehearsing can change the physical wiring of your brain to help support exceptional performance.
It’s also where I discovered moments in the play I never found in rehearsal. Our minds are designed to steer us away from anything dangerous or uncomfortable—it’s how we’re designed and how have survived as humans. You’re never going to feel motivated to do anything that your mind deems uncomfortable or difficult. But practice shapes your brain how you want it to perform.
Instinctively, we want to choose the path of least resistance. But the next time you hear that voice telling you to stop, that you’ve done enough, push yourself to go through it and you’ll reap the benefits.
Here are a few tips on how to gain that confidence.
For a TV or film audition…
Once you feel you have it in you, drill the material again for 30-45 minutes nonstop. You’ll find that you will discover more about the material and character. The more you rehearse it, the more your logical brain turns off and the more your creative brain turns on.
For a theater scene…
Rehearse your scene once or twice through after you feel like quitting. Push your rehearsal endurance and you’ll develop the confidence on stage that you want.
For a monologue…
Run it for 30 minutes without stopping. The repetition will give you the confidence you need to perform it under pressure.
And remember to take care of yourself during this process. Drink plenty of water; the more hydrated your body, the more hydrated your brain and the less likely you are to feel exhausted. Eat well. Focus on protein and produce, the type of food that will give the right energy to push through when you feel like quitting.
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and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.