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Stephanie Cole seeks more help for actors suffering stage fright

Stephanie Cole

Actor Stephanie Cole has called for more support for performers suffering from stage fright.

Cole, known for her theatre and television work in series such as Tenko and Open All Hours, said anxiety in performers can “destroy a career” and urged her peers to share their stories in a bid to break the stigma surrounding it.

In an interview in this month’s Equity magazine, Cole said her own anxiety stemmed from a fear of letting down her fellow actors and stage crew.

“Performance anxiety affects people in different ways. The symptoms are often similar, such as dry mouth, forgetting lines and fear of going on to the stage, but the reasons a performer can feel these can vary greatly,” she said.

“In my case, it is because I do not want to let my fellow actors down or the hard-working crew. This is at the core of my anxiety,” she added.

Cole also recalled an experience when she was appearing in A Cream Cracker Under the Settee, when her “mind went blank”.

She said no line was offered to her as a prompt and added: “I got no help so I had to apologise to the audience and shout to the DSM to give me the line and I carried on.”

Cole said producers and directors needed an “understanding when support is needed”.

“So when performers require the extra help of [prompt] boards or ear pieces it is simply accepted as the norm,” she added.

Her comments echo those of Juliet Stevenson, who revealed she nearly ended her career because of stage fright.