Every actor has experienced it. The Actor’s Nightmare. Standing on stage naked. Standing on stage and realizing you don’t know your lines. Standing on stage and realizing there’s a third act you’ve never rehearsed. I haven’t acted in years and I STILL have dreams about being thrust into the middle of a play and not having a clue as to what’s going on.
There’s even talking about it over at the New York Times.
Some of that is spill over from the real nerves that can come from standing in front of an audience. Stage fright is a scary thing. It’s funny, when I used to act, whenever I was on stage acting as another person, I never got nightmare nervous. I never worried about going up on my lines, or worried about the audience, or being in the wrong place in the wrong time. Something about being another person just took the nerves away.
Now, being in front of an audience as myself and doing a workshop or giving a speech terrifies me. I’ve been doing workshops for over ten years and I still get nervous. I have to practice my speech over and over again (I write out the text of the speech as if I were learning lines). And my nightmare in that situation is showing up at a conference and seeing that the workshop I’m down for, is not the one I’ve prepared. Nightmare city. I don’t ad-lib and I don’t wing it.
What is your worst actor’s nightmare?