All the World’s a Stage…

Have you ever performed on stage? A stage with hot lighting, shadowy wings, and the penetrating gaze of an audience?

This is not my natural environment… and yet after many years I recently found myself backstage and waiting for our call.

The mood was hushed and subdued, and I took the time to reflect on how, and why, I had made this choice. The answer, I think, was curiosity. I was curious as to how my self-management had evolved over the last decade or so; and how I would unearth the courage to step out onto the stage, and into a place of vulnerability. The performance was also a challenge, both physically and mentally, and a unique opportunity for creative expression.

Ballet shoesIn the build up to the performance the wave of thoughts, sensations, and emotions was not unfamiliar: we are, after all, called on to perform throughout our personal and professional lives.

The context, the stage, and the audience take on a multitude of forms and you, the performer, are invited – or expected – to play your part with finesse. And, whatever the circumstances of your performance… the show must go on.

Performance, by its very nature, requires that you show up and share something with your audience, and brings the present moment into sharp relief. During your most intense performances you might experience the mental state of flow, a timeless place where you are fully immersed in the creative process. And, depending on your orientation to the inner or outer world, performance has the potential to energise and/or exhaust.

Yet although performance is a universal and often communal experience, we all approach this experience from a perspective which is rooted deeply in our particular history, culture, preferences, and state of mind.

I wonder, from your own perspective:

  • How do you understand performance, and when and where are you called on to perform?
  • What does your stage look like?
  • How do you, as an individual, respond to the gaze of your audience?
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