How to Beat Stage Fright: UC Riverside professor, Bella Merlin, publishes new book, “Facing the Fear: An Actor’s Guide to Overcoming Stage Fright”

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How to Beat Stage Fright

UC Riverside professor publishes new book, “Facing the Fear: An Actor’s Guide to Overcoming Stage Fright”

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( – There’s no business like show business – unless, of course, you suffer from stage fright. Yet, even in that case, there’s help for you. Bella Merlin, professor in the theatre, film and digital production department at the University of California, Riverside, has published a new book, “Facing the Fear: An Actor’s Guide to Overcoming Stage Fright.”

“Stage fright has the power to drive actors from the stage for weeks, months and years, and it can strike any actor at any time. But fortunately, it’s a challenge that can now be met,” said Merlin. “This is a multidisciplinary look at what goes on for actors in the process of performance when stage fright kicks in and provides strategies for overcoming it.”

Drawing on her own and other actors’ personal experiences, the book engages in a series of questions like “What is stage fright?” and “How do we develop good practices?” Merlin breaks down the physiological and psychological manifestations of stage fright, and offers strategies – from the very practical (sleep, diet, relaxation) to the philosophical (how to deal with feedback, evaluation, audition nerves, and post-performance experiences) to overcome the fear.

“It basically invites actors to take as much agency over their experience of a stressful profession in order to reduce nerves as far as possible,” explained Merlin.

The book is intended for those who are experiencing or have previously suffered from stage fright, and for those who want to be fully prepared should that day ever come. Merlin adds that although there are no hard-and-fast answers, “Facing the Fear” uses anecdotes, history, philosophy, body/mind balancing, psychology and practical knowledge to enable actors to acknowledge, face, and ultimately embrace their performance anxieties.

The Royal National Theatre in London will host a launch party for the book on Tuesday, June 7, in London. Merlin combines a professional acting career with teaching and is a professor of acting and directing at UC Riverside. She is available for interviews and media inquiries on the following topics: stage fright as a misunderstood and often secretive condition, the neuroscience of learning, the psychology of fear, and practical solutions to deal with performance nerves.

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About UC Riverside

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California’s diverse culture, UCR’s enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion. A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. UCR also has ISDN for radio interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.


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