Stage fright!

Just a comforting (I hope) message to all of you who are currently getting hot under the collar about your forthcoming leavers’ productions. I’m assuming that, as D-day approaches, there’s been lots of yelling, arguing, threats of cancellation, pulling out of hair, vowing never to put on a musical again…etc etc. There certainly used to be when I produced an end-of-year show.

Anticipation of the big night used to leave me more than a little on edge; in fact, the only situation I’ve been in that has caused the butterflies to rampage through my delicate abdominal region with greater force is when I’ve assumed the duties of best man. I’ve had this dubious honour three times now, which is a higher than average tally even for a man of my years. When I just think of the responsibility and pressure of this vital role, I still get a churning sensation. Anyone who’s safely delivered an old chum into the matrimonial arms of his intended will tell you that organising a stag weekend, or safeguarding the rings, is a stroll in the park compared to the ‘big job’…..the speech.

Very much like your pending production, it has to be well-delivered, slick, and with the right level of emotion. It must have pace and be audible to the deafest of elderly relatives sitting at the back of the room. Above all, however, it has to be funny. For it to be considered successful it needs to cause titters, giggles, chuckles and belly-laughs a-plenty. During my last-but-one foray into bestmanland, as I sat at the top table next to the father of the bride (who’d just delivered a top-drawer speech of his own), he could obviously sense the anxiety and stage fright as my moment in the spotlight drew near. ‘Don’t worry’, he told me. ‘What you must remember is that you have a captive audience. They’re on your side. They’ll forgive the nerves, the fluffed lines and the jokes that are misjudged or badly timed. They’re all here for the same reason, to celebrate a landmark in their friends’ and families’ lives. They’ll be supportive and encouraging, willing you to do well because they’re simply happy to be a part of this special occasion. You can’t go wrong…..I promise.’ And I didn’t. With a well-earned glass of bubbly I basked in the compliments and pats on the back and wondered why I’d ever got myself so worked up.

And so it will be for you and your class during your leavers’ production. In spite of your fears, children always pull it out the bag and your performance will end with lots of soggy hankies, red eyes and big smiles….I promise.

Break a leg!

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