The stage is set. You are standing there, adrenalin coursing through you. In a flash of the spotlight you find yourself frozen, and then you bomb!

There is something powerful about the stage. Something that it transfers to you as soon as you are on it, it gives you itself, to your care. And then you become the stage. You are the performance. But this transition comes with great effort. An effort of the internalised self. An effort that means the world of difference in your performance and yet at that moment is everything that you cannot control. You forget that it needs to be schooled, and you become its slave. This tension, this anxiety will mean the end of your dreams, if you do not make the aforementioned effort. It happens to the best of us, and so frequent that we gave it a name – stage fright. As it begins to gnaw at you, there is nothing more than quitting that becomes the simplest and safest option. To get off the stage and run away where no one can reach you! And once you settle with this, you mar all your practice, all your hard work, and all your dreams.

Amitabh Bacchan said this once, “I am very conscious in front of the camera. I still feel nervous when it rolls on the set.” Is it strange then, that we must always feel this nervousness when we have to perform? Some people tend to believe that the true mark of a performer is self-doubt. Underestimating or overestimating your art is variably important. For in these extremes, we must find a balance. The catch here is that this balance comes from within too. So probably, hope and belief would capture this balance. Or something more? Courage, confidence and will must be added to the mix. But all this ideology is tested impatiently by the all powering nature of the stage. When you step on the stage, everything becomes a blank canvas. Your pep-talk is but meaningless mumbling. What do you do then? The answer is simpler than you might think, you just go out there and perform. Try to do your best and live your act. This may sound off, but yes you must do this as a leap of faith. All of us know how faith can work in a dichotomy. But all of us also know that faith and belief are empowering too. It is this power that you must channelise when you are out to perform, because there is always more to a performance than just a prize.

Allow me to share my own experience.

A thousand thoughts go in my mind when I am told, “You are next, please come backstage.” In class 1, I participated in my first Solo Singing Competition in school. As my name was called out, I froze and somehow crawled up the stage. I have crystal-clear memories of what followed that I won the first prize that day. How? Probably because I just lived my performance. I remember it as crisp as if it were yesterday. It has been 12 years. I did not think much about the people sitting there in the hall. Only that my teacher sat with me and told me before I started to sing, “Close your eyes, and relax.”. I still remember her smile when I opened my eyes after 4 minutes of Ae Mere Pyare Vatan. More than the first prize, that smile and my joy at seeing it was my courage for the next performance. But even in my performance last year, I froze just the same and wanted to run away from the hall full of people judging every nuance of my imperfect and badly practised song. I did not win the first prize this time. But I felt very happy when I saw the smile again.

It is said that while performing, we could find someone in the audience. Someone who nods at the right intervals, someone with a smiling face. It does help a lot when you find that person, and unsurprisingly you will always find one person who fits the description.

Recently, at IIT Delhi’s Rendezvous, Viren Barman, Mr. India 2016, First runner-up, judging an event said, “It is very important to lose too. I am sitting here after losing countless times. And that is what keeps you going. If you never lose, what is the point? You will never know what it means to win truly.” No game is played to lose, winning is always the incentive. But every loss teaches us more than the victory. What is important is that in victory you keep humble and in your failures, you keep courage and faith. More often than not, the failures will outnumber the victories. But that is how your skill is sharpened. Until you achieve excellence that leaves an impression. And more importantly, an excellence that offers you unadulterated joy.

The stage is never our enemy. Shyness and inhibitions ruin more opportunities than anything else. The best preparedness for the stage is that of the spirit. An unabashed sense of confidence; that inspires you to do your best and considers the competition as a secondary concern. Personality, after all, begins when comparison ends. Staying true to yourself through failures and fighting back harder is the key to achieving success. Getting stage ready is a comprehensive process that continues a lifetime. Through the highs and lows, nothing remains constant. And it is in this erratic behavior that we must need find an equilibrium. Every stage is different, and hence, the lessons differ too. Try to shine your best on a multitude of stages. Try to shine within and without.


Feature Image Credits: Rishabh Gogoi for DU Beat.

Kartik Chauhan
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Finally it was 19th October, that fateful day when I would get to see Enrique Iglesias Live in concert. There were three classes of tickets, VIP costing Rs. 15000, platinum for Rs. 8000 and gold (the one I bought) for Rs. 2500.

The gates opened at 5pm and everybody was inside the ground by 5:30pm. As soon as they let us in, we ran with all out might to be able to stand in front. Having done that, I managed to stand in the third row of the gold class. There were VIP and Platinum people ahead of course. Sadly I was 5 inches too short.I was stranded between tallies and couldn’t even see how the stage looked like. According to the pass, Enrique was supposed to come at 7pm. Well he didn’t. We stood for four hours just waiting. Thankfully I had friends with me but that ceased to matter after some time because everybody was talking to everybody out of boredom.  1 hour gone…two hours gone…3 hours gone and it started to feel like he was not going to turn up. To make things worse the crowd was well, pressing! People kept pushing and prodding and nudging and there was no place to even breathe. It was starting to get unbearable when finally at 9pm the stage when dark and there was Enrique standing right at the centre of the stage. I’m guessing that’s where he would have been because all I could see were people’s heads. That’s when the crowd lost it and started to push even more and here I was thinking it couldn’t get any worse. For a change the men were civilized and the women went berserk. The girl next to me kept spreading her arms and shouting I love you over and over again when there wasn’t even space to keep my feet. I got so annoyed that I dug my nails into her throat with all my strength as that was the only place reachable by my hands that were stuck in a really awkward position. Ten minutes into the concert, I was completely swamped by people and couldn’t take it anymore. Imagine an ant stuck between long blades of grass, I couldn’t even see the sky above me. I caught hold of the bouncer and asked him to get me out. He warmed me that once I’m out of the crowd; I’m out of the concert as well. I couldn’t care less, it’s not like I could see anything anyway. So he dug me and my friend out of the people, practically pulling my every limb in the process and carried me out in his arms stretched out above his head.

He led us out the enclosure, behind the VIP barricades and that’s when my luck changed. Suddenly I could see everything! That’s when I got my first glimpse of Enrique and my heart melted. There he was wearing a white V neck t-shirt and black jeans looking like a Greek god. Suddenly battling the crowd for four hours seemed worth it.

I got talking to the bouncer who was regulating the VIP entrance. I asked him if he would let me and my friend enter for some money. He asked for Rs. 1000 for both of us but we decided against it since the view was great from where we were. I sang along to all his songs as loudly as I could, cheered and jumped and head banged. After sometime the bouncer came up to me and said if you like him that much you can go in and led us inside the VIP stands for free! I was delighted.  Enrique was right under my nose! So close that I could see his sexy stubble as well! He sung all my favourite songs opening with ‘I like it’ and ‘escape’ and ending with’ Tonight I’m lovin’ you’. He called up a girl from the crowd while singing hero and hugged her for ten minutes, called up a twelve year old surd and made him sit next to him and sing along to his songs. He lay down on the ramp and out stretched both his arms on either side for people to touch him. He took people’s cameras, clicked himself and handed it back to them. He was a complete crowd pleaser.

For me it couldn’t get better or maybe it could if I was the girl he called up on stage! But that would be the jealousy talking because not many people buy the gold ticket and get to stand in VIP stands! The concert lasted for an hour and a half. It was an hour and a half of pure bliss! I fell in love with Enrique all over again and was mesmerized by him.