The Stage and Me: How Theatre Helps My Anxiety

Improv Troupe, Maggie Crandall

As a freelance writer, I pitch a lot of ideas. As an actor, I go to a lot of auditions. With both these careers, I get a lot of rejections. It seems unnatural, then, that a person with anxiety might choose such careers. But I understand with both of these professions that rejection doesn’t mean you’re not good. It doesn’t even mean you’re not good enough. It just means you’re not right; you don’t fit. In fact, this could be the one time in a break-up where the dumper can really mean it when he says to the dumpee, “It’s not you, it’s me.”

It might also seem strange that I, a sufferer of anxiety, choose to be an actress–willingly taking center stage and making a fool of myself–when America’s number one fear is public speaking. Year after year, time after time, Americans say they are most anxious about standing under the spotlight in front of a crowd.

Photo credit Larry Benvenuti:Marathon Community Theatre


But somehow, I, an anxious individual, seek out the stage. I bury my nights in rehearsals and my weekends in performances because theatre is my outlet. Acting is a mechanism that helps me cope with my anxiety. It is one of a few strategies, because really you can never have too many, but it is an important and strangely paradoxical one.

Just what exactly is theatre’s role in my anxiety management? Read here about how theatre helps me handle my anxiety in my article for HowlRound, “a knowledge commons by and for the theatre community.”



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