What Are You Afraid Of?

I’ll start.

I, without fail, begin every rehearsal process certain that I’ll be exposed to all as the official worst actor in the world who has no business in the the theatre. It doesn’t matter if I have have a leading role or if I have a grand total of two lines and ten set changes. I always think that it’s just a matter of time before the jig is up. I’ve spoken about this with enough actors and directors to know it’s not an uncommon fear. Ever since I learned I wasn’t alone, I’ve felt much better about it.

I got this idea from Seth Godin’s Check-in, Chicken post. Seth advocates that every morning you… “Have each member of the team announce what they’re afraid of. Two kinds of afraid, actually. Things that might fail and things that might work.”

Seth is speaking in a business context but I don’t see any reason this wouldn’t work in the theatre. Start every rehearsal the same way. Go around the room and check in with everyone about their fears. “I’m not afraid of anything” is not an acceptable answer. If you don’t want to share your fear, then your answer is either “I’m afraid to share my fear,” or just make something up. This is the theatre; be creative!

So, what are you afraid of?

  • Getting lost in the middle of your monologue?
  • Missing that critically-timed entrance?
  • Falling flat on your face during the dance number?
  • Singing that last note so flat that it wouldn’t even register on an official flatness meter?
  • Catching the cast cold?

Chances are you’re not alone.

About the author

Craig Mason


  • I’m stage managing for the first time — typically I’m on stage. The production has 11 actors and 5 different directors and is a series of Edgar Allen Poe short plays and poems. I’ve been TERRIFIED throughout the process of calling the wrong actors for a piece, or trying to rehearse things concurrently that need the same cast members. Every time I put the next day’s schedule reminder into the rehearsal report I expect that I’ve messed it up and something terrible will happen, wasting everyone’s time.

    Luckily we go into tech on Sunday, so everyone is called and we can only rehearse one piece at a time. Phew!

  • When I teach, I’m afraid I’m going to be at a loss for words. That’ll i’ll lose my place and stare out blankly at the students staring blankly at me.

    And when I write, I’m afraid of plays not finding an audience. it’s not so much a “I wish everyone would love me!’ thing as that’s just impossible. Sure I’d like to be universally loved and adored. But that would require some effort on my part in being lovable and adorable. :) But I do fear (which can cause me to seize up in the middle of a project) that the play will go out into the world and NO ONE will want it. Poor little play….

  • I am afraid that I will be exposed as the world’s worst actor/singer/woman/you name it.
    This time I am the oldest person on the stage with many new or first time actors. I feel like the pressure is on me to be the experienced one and set the standard.
    I am afraid that if I let anyone know how afraid I am I will start an epidemic and we will all fall into a giant sucking hole. Whew!
    I am not sure if this makes me feel better