If you’re not a performer, it can be impossible to imagine how anyone is able to get up on stage and entertain. Just the thought of having to tell a joke, sing or act in front of an expecting audience is enough to make knees wobble and hearts race.
These fears mean that many non-performers tend to shy away from the stage, but a lack of confidence in front of others is something that can stop many from achieving their best throughout their life. Whether you’re tasked with giving a wedding speech or putting your case forward for a new promotion, speaking with confidence is a skill everyone can benefit from.
Brighton based stand-up Annabel Pribelszki, who performed her show Professional Break Up Artist at Brighton Fringe last year, has created a new course that allows both seasoned entertainers and those without any experience at all to escape their comfort zone and develop their performance skills together.
'As an experienced performer, I can remember what it was like to go on stage for the first time. The blinding lights, the fear of taking the mic off the stand, the literal ‘rabbit in the headlights’ feeling of pure angst at sharing my words with an unknown audience. I wanted to share the performance skills and knowledge which I wish I had been told when I first started,' she says. 'I’ve now built up these skills across fifteen years of performing spoken word, stand-up, in addition to the audience engagement skills I use as an MC and event host and use them to give the gift of self confidence to my students.'
The six week workshop based course will provide you with the tools you need to present yourself, with confidence, in front of any audience. Through light hearted games and set exercises, the course covers everything from matching your expressions to your speech to preparing for audience reactions, working with a mic and more.
Creating a safe space for her students to explore their ideas has been a priority for Annabel. 'As a lesbian, I feel that is essential that members of our LGBTQIA+ community are given the opportunity to share their experiences, thoughts and dreams, with a wider audience, through the medium of performance.' Emphasising the workshops as a safe space doesn’t mean that anything is censored or that criticism is barred, it’s just kept constructive. In fact, a core element of the course is watching and analysing masters of their stagecraft, such as Joelle Taylor and Kate Tempest, to pick apart their routines and study their techniques. Participants are also given video recordings of themselves as a tool to help them critique their own performances. Painful to watch at first, viewing themselves from a new perspective allows them to fully engage with the course’s teachings and quickly strengthen the quality of their performance.
Does it work? Participant Aiden Bex thinks so: 'As a result of the activities, it isn't long before the group has bonded and people are no longer feeling very self-conscious. Each student has been continually working on their own individual areas and has been learning all the time, even though the group has been of mixed ability.'
By the end of the course, all participants will have developed a five minute performance that they have the opportunity to showcase in front of an invited audience. Beyond the stage, many of the participants have found unexpected bonuses. 'The opportunity to learn and play with others bonds the workshop group and new friendships are formed, which go beyond the six weeks of the course,” says Annabel. “The mental health and wellbeing benefits of taking a course like this can be so empowering. Performing in front of one another, giving each other feedback and generally having a laugh together is a great way to make lasting friendships with people you may never have met otherwise.'
The next six week Performance Skills Workshop will be held on Mondays at the Caroline of Brunswick Pub, Ditchling Road, Brighton, starting on Monday 7th January, 7-9pm. Contact [email protected] for more information.