My nine-year-old son is the center of my universe. This is the story of his childhood as it unfolds. Please read the first post, "Why I started this blog," to know more.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Stage Fright? What's that?

A few nights back when I was patting Munchkin to sleep, he me out of my sleep-deprived stupor by asking me: "Mamma, why are some people afraid to go on stage?"

"Everybody gets a little scared when they're on stage," I replied, hoping the answer would suffice.

"I don't get scared," he said with an air of genuine hurt. "I like going on stage."

He had a point. The kid has zero stage fright. And he was this way since he was two-and-a-half years old. His first 'stage appearance' was in August 2004 when our apartment complex welfare association announced a fancy dress event for children. I didn't want to send him in the ubiquitous /Nehru/doctor/lawyer/farmer/rock star costume so I thought a bit. Then it hit me. The movie Munnabhai MBBS had come out a few months ago and was a huge hit. It follows the hilarious attempts of a thug to join medical school and become a doctor in a bid to reconcile with his parents.

So I bought him a toy stethoscope, a white shirt that passed for a lab coat, and stuck the note "Munnabhai MBBS" on this front pocket, complete with band-aid, just like in the movie's posters. (see pic) He also learned a few lines of the title track. When he walked out in front of the audience, he looked a little overwhelmed. He's forgotten his lines, I thought, completely forgetting how young he was. But he looked at everyone slowly, then his face broke into a huge grin. He pulled the free end of the stethoscope high above his head and sang his lines. The applause felt like magic to me. My little kid had just given his first performance and couldn't stop smiling!
A few months later, there was a similar contest at the Montessori he attended. I decided to recycle the costume. And this time, the Gangsta MD carried audience with him. Then there was a problem. The little brat was enjoying the attention so much, he didn't want to come off the stage. Finally, his teacher scooped him up and carried him away. He was still beaming and waving to the audience. I was embarrassed, but only just.

All this subsequent trysts with the arclights were equally confident. He was the only solo performer at the annual day celebrations. He started his poem and found the mike wasn't working. So he tapped it and announced: Papa, the mike isn't working. As luck would have it, the microphone decided to function just as junior made the declaration, so the entire auditorium heard him and laughed. The performer smiled back and non-plussed, continued his poem.

He also won top honors for his turn as Noddy, and then recited a rather complicated poem for his next annual day...this was just 10 days after emerging from a stint in the hospital for really high fever. I still have those pictures on my softboard at the office. Last November, he shaved his head to be Mahatma Gandhi.

For the school's annual day this time, he was chosen to be part of the group welcoming parents. was the second E in the 'Welcome' squad, so he had to wait while everybody said their bit in turns. We got the DVD from the school a few days ago and were not surprised to see the little thespian beaming at the audience, looking all around quite happily, trying out various 'looks' (squinting his eyes at the lights, making funny faces at the lights, and whatnot) while the others spoke. He had no idea this was being taped and looked suitably embarrassed when he saw the DVD. We had a good laugh, though.

Munchkin repeated his question: "Why do people get scared on stage?"

"Well, it can be scary: there are so many people looking at you. You wonder if you'll forget your lines, or if you'll make a mistake, or if they won't like you," I tried to explain, and wondered if I was going to scare him off. I still get the butterflies if I have to address more than three people in a room.

"So what if you make a mistake? Everybody makes mistakes. I like going on stage, Mamma," he announced and proceeded to close his eyes and go to sleep. It's times like this that I can't believe he's only six years old.

Poster © Vinod Chopra Productions


trishna said...

your son seems to be quite brave. stage fright is a common handicap.i have sung lot of times on stage but then i never looked at the audience.

Writing Mommy said...

Thanks, Trishna. :) I hope he doesn't outgrow his natural carefree attitude. For now, he gets really excited at the thought of being in the spotlight.

Three P's in a Pod said... are indeed the most marvelous things and they come up with the most fabulous comments. Sounds like you have one brave young man!

Thanks for stopping by my blog...come back anytime!

Alyson @ 3 P's in a Pod

Janine Dunlop said...

Wow - my 8 year old has had stage fright since he was about 2! Refuses to perform even in front of me. Keep encouraging yours - it's a great skill to have.