Category Archives: auditions

Remembering your Words – Confidence Tricks 5


Memory and Centering


“If only I could remember my words then I would be composed” is a complaint that many of us could identify with.


My friend and mentor, Robin Prior, has suggested that the following is a more constructive approach “If only I could be more composed then I would remember my words.


Have you had the experience of struggling to convey your thoughts on a subject that you know thoroughly? This could range from a total blanking of your mind to finding that you are simply not articulating your thoughts with the accustomed ease.


Adrenaline, the fight/flight hormone, tends to dampen our usual thinking and memory processes. Its job, after all, is to drive us to take physical action. Have you noticed how fast you can move when a speeding car is accelerating toward you? Logical, serial thinking is too slow in this context. It could, literally, be the death of you.


So the most important factor is to moderate your adrenaline flow and turns fear into a buzz, into a pleasant excitement. How? Please see the previous posts, Confidence Tricks 1 – 4.


You do, of course, need to practise what you want to say. It’s important to remember that memory isn’t just psychological – it’s physiological also. So, if you are going to be addressing an audience of 200 it won’t help you if you practice your speech slumped in an easy chair with your feet up in the mantelpiece! At the very least you’ll need to practice your speech whilst standing upright. Preferably standing upright centred, with your weight nicely distributed and a good wide sense of space.


It’s nice, but not essential, if you can practice in the actual venue. If you can’t get into the venue you can always visualise, pretend, that you are practising in it.*


In summary – you link your words and thoughts with a balanced and centred physiology. You link your words and thoughts with the appropriate presentation environment – either physically or in your imagination.


This simple approach can really quieten down your cognitive processes and clear your mind for action. Not only will you be able to articulate your thoughts fluidly you may also find that you are thinking more creatively. You might… surprise yourself… and find that… you know more… than you even suspected… you knew.


* I’ll say more about visualisation and mental rehearsal in a future post.

Confidence Tricks 3. Agents Showcase – The Big Audition

The cast of final term drama students are reciting in unison. At least that is the idea. The sound is flat and ragged. Stressed or disengaged expressions are plain to see on the performers faces. Strain and slump in the postures. Tomorrow is an important evening for everyone’s future. An audience of theatrical agents. Careers could be made… or fizzle out before they start. You can almost see the thought bubbles – “Why do final rehearsals so often end up like this?”

What is happening here? Anxiety? Yes, in varying degrees from person to person. Tiredness and a feeling of not being quite equal to the task? The final term has been a long haul. Conflict of priorities? Time devoted to the ensemble piece is time subtracted from the all important solo slot. Despite the fact that the ensemble pieces are like the rich dark velvet that shows off the individual pieces of jewellery to best effect.

What to do? A good old fashioned motivational speech and then push on? It can work wonders… but not today, not now. The director decides – now is the time for pausing. For regrouping and redirecting the considerable individual and collective resources of the cast.

“Alright everyone! Take five!” A collective sigh of relief. Pursuit of other, small but important, goals ensues. A visit to the ladies or gents. A quick call on the mobile. Smokers huddle at the main entrance. Catch up on some gossip. Some are resting in the Alexander semi-supine position. Some sits and thinks. And some just sits.

We all have an actual need for distraction. A need to place attention elsewhere periodically. Too much work and not enough play etc.

“O.K. everyone, let’s get going again!”

Do they dive straight into the unison speech? No.

For the next ten minutes the students separate out into pairs. One of the students, the tester, starts to gently push the other student, the testee, who becomes wobbly and loses balance. After a short pause the testee places their hand briefly over their lower abdomen and then, returning their hand to their side, stands in a neutral posture. The tester begins to gently push again. This time the testee is stable and not only confidently balanced but looking calmer and more collected.

After swapping roles and repeating the same procedure the attitude in the cast is calmer, more powerful and motivation is high. Unison descends on the cast – the collective voice, like peeling bells, is now bright, clear and resonant.

The performance the following evening, both the ensemble and the individual pieces, is a resounding success. Students get agents and take the next step of their career.