Tag Archives: stage fright

Laurence Olivier’s Stage Fright


Laurence Olivier_with Joan_Plowright in ‘The Entertainer’

Sorting papers recently I found an EPCA Newsletter (European Personal Constructs Association - PC Psychology deals with personality and attitude change) from 1998.  It had a book review quoting Laurence Olivier on his stage fright.

"With each succeeding minute,  it became less possible to resist the terror.  My cue came, and I went in to that stage where I knew with grim certainty I would not be capable of remaining more than a few minutes ...".

The book itself  The Person Behind the Mask: a Guide to Performing Arts Psychology  (London, Ablex 1997)  was written by Linda H. Hamilton.  She had been a ballet dancer from age 8 to 26, then became a Clinical Psychologist.  Her book cites research conducted over one year at the University of California's Health Program for Performing Artists, when 25% of patients had psychological problems including "severe anxiety and/or depression, personality disorders somataform disorders, psychoses and suicidal behaviour (p84)".  The reviewer goes on to say that the book "deals in some detail with the characteristic problems of public self-display e.g. unrealistic weight requirements, debilitating injuries which hamper performance or prevent it altogether, and stage fright and points out that it is time the professions themselves woke up to the need to pay attention to their own occupational realities".