This cultural history and memoir of stage fright will resonate with anyone terrified of speaking or performing in public.
Stage fright is one of the human psyche's deepest fears, challenging actors, musicians, professional athletes, and people from all walks of life. Surveys in the United States repeatedly rank public speaking as one of the top fears, affecting up to 74 percent of people.
Sara Solovitch studied piano as a young child and fell in love with music. At 10 she played Bach and Mozart in her hometown's annual music festival but was overwhelmed by fear. As a teen she attended Eastman School of Music, where stage fright led her to give up aspirations of becoming a professional pianist. In her late 50s, Sara gave herself a one-year deadline to tame performance anxiety and play before an audience. She resumed music lessons while exploring meditation, exposure therapy, cognitive therapy, biofeedback, beta blockers, and other remedies. She performed in airports, hospitals, and retirement homes before renting a public hall and performing for 50 guests on her 60th birthday. Using her own journey as inspiration, Solovitch has written a thoughtful and insightful examination of the myriad causes of stage fright and the equally diverse ways to overcome it, and a tribute to pursuing personal growth at any age.
Fifteen minutes into this book I asked myself if there was anything else to be said (or heard). I don’t have stage fright and was not particularly interested on the topic itself. But, “Action is the key to success” has always been my favorite maxim, so I was curious as to how someone deals with an impediment (that seems so unreal) to fulfilling his or her dreams and do what they love or want to do. Sara Solovitch touches on everything you can think of about the subject not boring you with one chapter on this, and another on that. Her odyssey with stage fright is told in a very resolute style and is intertwined with interviews with people of all kinds of background, scientific research, feedback from psychotherapists, and more.
Engineers and statisticians account for error, tolerance and noise in their designs and data analyses. Why not artists? “Perfection is not only an illusion: it’s boring!” I love that.
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What did you love best about Playing Scared?
A very thorough look at stage fright, some great personal stories.
How could the performance have been better?
I'm sure she would make a wonderful kindergarten teacher, but her performance came off as condescending. She also mis-pronounced the name of almost every single composer and musical term mentioned. Do a little bit of research - it's a book about music. Finally, I can't stand it when they do voices. Just read the quote in your own voice. I know you're an out of work actor, but it's unbelievably annoying.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful