Do you have any strange pre-show rituals? Things that get you into the right frame of mind for performing?
Or do you just show up on stage?
Whether it’s a matter of superstition or tried-and-tested formula, pre-show habits can create a much-needed sense of calm and focus (or reassurance and confidence) in those precious minutes before curtain up.
Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards is said to demand a Shepherd’s Pie with an unbroken crust, which he devours before going on stage (and if it’s not there, he refuses to perform until he gets his pie), while Coldplay vocalist Chris Martin says he has about 18 things he has to do, including brushing his teeth so he feels smart.
Some performers swear by yoga, vocal and physical warm-ups, and even prayer. Others have step-by-step routines, like setting out make-up in a particular order, to help them prepare.
So what about you? How do you find focus before you’re in the spotlight?
We threw this question out to our theatre community, with some mixed responses:
Rock of Ages director Steve Carr:
‘As a stage manager, I go over my notes and prompts at the five minute call (of course, after all the Pre show set ups etc…) – I get myself into the show, remove myself from distractions. At clearance, I take an extra minute to breathe, calm myself and smash the call.’
Sarah J Christiner:
‘I tend to develop pre-show rituals in accordance with a production/character😂 For example, one role I played a few years back, the character smoked, and was from northern UK. So, pre makeup/costume, I’d have a cigarette and sing along to songs from ‘Billy Elliot’, especially the ‘Letter Song’, which was really emotive for this character.’
I punch any crew members I pass on my way from dressing room to stage for my first entrance. Very, very light tap to the upper arm. Don’t ask me why, I just do!
‘My ritual is getting ready/made-up before everyone turns up and finding a quiet spot just to clear my mind and focus on the show.’
‘Drop a Berocca in a Red Bull. Drink it. Smash the show out of the park. Bazinga! I do love to stand on an empty stage in front of an empty auditorium before the show, and just let myself get absorbed for a few minutes. The calm before the mayhem.’
‘I stand in front of the mirror and lose myself into the character.’
‘I have a definite order I do things when getting ready (adaptable depending on costume i.e. am I wearing a wig or a headpiece etc and when is the best point in this to get my mic on, if applicable) – I work this out during tech, so I know how long I need. I like to have five to ten minutes to myself just prior to going on stage where I don’t really talk to anyone … just to breathe and focus.’
‘Just give me fifteen minutes of peace to re-read the first part of my lines over and over and over.’
‘Always drop to a knee and ask the spirits that guide me to “Look after the crew I am working with and myself and take us to a better performance than the last one” … unless it’s the final show, and then it’s “Please make sure I survive the cast party.” LOL.’
‘Walk/jump around the stage, sussing out the space.’
‘Rituals usually happen during the lead up to the run. Things like getting ready in a particular order or at a specific time, or pass somebody backstage before you go on. Usually when you do something weird like brushing someone else’s teeth as a joke and then you have a great show, you feel like it has to continue or the shows will be ruined.’
Whatever your way is, embrace it … and get out there and shine!