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Old 08-12-2018, 08:34 PM
Cabin_Fever Cabin_Fever is offline
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Stage Presence: Your definition

I toss this term around at times if the artist/music/venue/audience is a bit off, they are still there: no stopping and occasionally rescue what was seemingly a pathetic and anemic performance. I am no a performer, although I must admit I do fairly well with most Cream/Blind Faith tunes: but that just reveals my old age.

Is it just being comfortable on-stage while a whirl wind flows around it? Which I can imagine happening in any large venue with set production values.

I would love to hear your thoughts - first person, second-hand, let me hear it. The music business and performing in front of strangers is as daunting as it was 35 years ago. Except you guys and gals have more cool toys to play with. .
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Old 08-12-2018, 08:51 PM
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Moving around a lot. Making physical body motions and facial expressions that connect with the music. Having a distinctive appearance.

I think that's pretty much all it boils down to.

Jaco Pastorius had amazing stage presence.
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Old 08-12-2018, 09:08 PM
DavidwithanR DavidwithanR is offline
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Moving around a lot. Making physical body motions and facial expressions that connect with the music. Having a distinctive appearance.

I think that's pretty much all it boils down to.
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This would seem to credit The Swedish Chef with pretty much the greatest stage presence in history.
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Old 08-12-2018, 09:14 PM
Lamoral Lamoral is offline
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Jaco was actually 1/4 Swedish, 1/4 Finnish, 1/4 German and 1/4 Irish.

^ my parents were actually at one of the performances of that concert tour, though unfortunately not the one immortalized in the video.

Last edited by Lamoral; 08-12-2018 at 09:16 PM.
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Old 08-12-2018, 09:34 PM
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It's a matter of doing things to keep people watching. It doesn't even have to be moving around.

I saw the J. Geils Band years ago. Peter Wolf had a presence by his constant patter and by the way he used the mic. Magic Dick would move on stage when he was doing a solo.

J. Geils just stepped forward and played his guitar. It was riveting. There was something about his concentration that kept you watching.
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Old 08-12-2018, 10:00 PM
DavidwithanR DavidwithanR is offline
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J. Geils just stepped forward and played his guitar. It was riveting. There was something about his concentration that kept you watching.
"What exactly was the something" is the question of the OP, as far as I can tell.
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Old 08-12-2018, 10:56 PM
sabernode sabernode is offline
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Stage Presence for me is how good a person acts or represents himself/herself towards an audience.
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Old 08-13-2018, 12:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Lamoral View Post
Moving around a lot. Making physical body motions and facial expressions that connect with the music. Having a distinctive appearance.

I think that's pretty much all it boils down to.

Jaco Pastorius had amazing stage presence.
Yet Roy Orbison managed to command the stage while standing like a statue.
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Old 08-13-2018, 12:47 AM
DavidwithanR DavidwithanR is offline
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Jaco was actually 1/4 Swedish, 1/4 Finnish, 1/4 German and 1/4 Irish.
I don't know if my joking reference to The Swedish Chef was offensive or not funny or not recognized, but I meant that your description of stage presence seemed to describe the Muppet character, not that Jaco was a chef from Sweden.
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Old 08-13-2018, 12:52 AM
Lamoral Lamoral is offline
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I don't know if my joking reference to The Swedish Chef was offensive or not funny or not recognized, but I meant that your description of stage presence seemed to describe the Muppet character, not that Jaco was a chef from Sweden.
No, I knew what you meant, it was just that your comment coincided amusingly with his actual background, which I found....amusing.
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Old 08-13-2018, 12:55 AM
DavidwithanR DavidwithanR is offline
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Yet Roy Orbison managed to command the stage while standing like a statue.
Yes.

And there are people who, no matter how little they move or how much, never seem to command the stage. (Most of them aren't famous. Because they don't command the stage.)
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Old 08-13-2018, 12:56 AM
DavidwithanR DavidwithanR is offline
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No, I knew what you meant, it was just that your comment coincided amusingly with his actual background, which I found....amusing.
Ah

He was certainly the chef du bass playing.
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Old 08-13-2018, 12:58 AM
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I always thought Stage Presence was a theatrical term for charisma. But you're all using it in reference to concerts, so I dunno.
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Old 08-13-2018, 01:10 AM
DavidwithanR DavidwithanR is offline
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I think all of us have seen performers who move a lot but in a non-stage-presence way. They just don't seem right.

And performers who are very still but they somehow "do it wrong" so it has no presence, no real impact.

Then there are the ones who seemingly take negative non-presence-type behaviour and make it work for them, like the comedian Steven Wright who just stood there like an idiot but had a very strong presence anyway.

And of course the obvious active ones, with classic "putting it all out there" stage presence, such as Freddie Mercury.

Is it the good ones who all have something in common? Or the bad ones? Both maybe?
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Old 08-13-2018, 01:11 AM
Cabin_Fever Cabin_Fever is offline
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Thank you for your insights. I am not sure if I expressed it correctly.

I meant taking command of a situation on stage, whether the bass player is full of shit, the drummer can't keep a beat, the backup vocals sound like the Flintstones kids, the sound guy decides his LSD is a bit too strong tonight. And you are standing there going "WTF"? Sure, you come on to applause, then things go to s****.

Anybody been there? Most pro's don't let this happen I realize. But still - it was just an idle thought about how things could go way wrong despite repeated rehearsals. (As I said, I am not a performer. Just curious).
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Old 08-13-2018, 01:20 AM
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Originally Posted by sabernode View Post
Stage Presence for me is how good a person acts or represents himself/herself towards an audience.
Yeah, it doesn't require music or a raised platform. It's the ability to draw attention to yourself and keep it there; what in actors is referred to as "stealing the scene". One of the first things it involves is the self-assurance of knowing that you are deserving of attention; you may or may not be the most interesting person in the room, but what you are doing or saying definitely is. The main thing, IMO.



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I meant taking command of a situation on stage, whether the bass player is full of shit, the drummer can't keep a beat, the backup vocals sound like the Flintstones kids, the sound guy decides his LSD is a bit too strong tonight. And you are standing there going "WTF"? Sure, you come on to applause, then things go to s****.
I'd call that professionalism, not stage presence. The dudes are displaying a stunning lack of professionalism, and the person saying "ok, stop this" is being professional and reminding the rest that they fucking should.
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Old 08-13-2018, 01:26 AM
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OOT.

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Originally Posted by Cabin_Fever View Post
I meant taking command of a situation on stage, whether the bass player is full of shit, the drummer can't keep a beat, the backup vocals sound like the Flintstones kids, the sound guy decides his LSD is a bit too strong tonight. And you are standing there going "WTF"? Sure, you come on to applause, then things go to s****.
I'd call that professionalism, not stage presence. The dudes are displaying a stunning lack of professionalism, and the person saying "ok, stop this" is being professional and reminding the rest that they fucking should.

And when it happens in an emergency, it's called "being the person who takes charge". When you've got an emergency, several people starting to go into headless chicken mode, and several others who know what to do, the first one in this second group to step up is The Person In Charge.

So maybe the whole thing, when done in any kind of situation, is just Stepping Up.
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Old 08-13-2018, 01:29 AM
DavidwithanR DavidwithanR is offline
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I always thought Stage Presence was a theatrical term for charisma. But you're all using it in reference to concerts, so I dunno.
If you can actually explain what charisma is, I expect you'll explain stage presence too.

Stage presence is often thought to require a literal stage, hence all the concerts.
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Old 08-13-2018, 01:37 AM
DavidwithanR DavidwithanR is offline
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Thank you for your insights. I am not sure if I expressed it correctly.

I meant taking command of a situation on stage, whether the bass player is full of shit, the drummer can't keep a beat, the backup vocals sound like the Flintstones kids, the sound guy decides his LSD is a bit too strong tonight. And you are standing there going "WTF"? Sure, you come on to applause, then things go to s****.

Anybody been there? Most pro's don't let this happen I realize. But still - it was just an idle thought about how things could go way wrong despite repeated rehearsals. (As I said, I am not a performer. Just curious).
That's important, but it's not what people mean when they say stage presence.

You're talking about presence of mind, composure, and the ability to absorb shocks and continue.

Stage presence is, as GuanoLad pointed out, either charisma or something very strongly related to charisma.
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Old 08-13-2018, 01:40 AM
DavidwithanR DavidwithanR is offline
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I think Andy Kaufman and Steven Wright both knew how to fake being the guy with no stage presence, while actually having a ton of it.
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Old 08-13-2018, 06:33 PM
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In 1989, I saw a concert that consisted of a set by Jeff Beck, followed by a set by Stevie Ray Vaughan. The tour was called ďThe Fire Meets the FuryĒ. At some shows SRV followed Beck, and sometimes Beck followed SRV, which made no sense if you saw the show. I left the concert thinking, ďBeck is a musical genius, but Stevie Ray Vaughan is a ***STAR***Ē. His stage presence was overwhelming even before he actually came on stage.

From what I recall, the tour went badly due to jealousy and professional differences.

I have no idea what gave Stevie Ray Vaughan stage presence that Jeff Beck lacked (or maybe had when he was billed alone), but SRV had it in spades. I saw him many times, including before he was famous, and he was always mesmerizing.

Stage presence is not a matter of talent or appearance. Itís magical; itís a gift. Up to a point, it usually does increase with experience.
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Old 08-13-2018, 07:29 PM
DavidwithanR DavidwithanR is offline
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I've never seen Jeff Beck in person, but yes on videos he is this staggeringly brilliant guitarist who visually comes across as an accountant on Thursday lunch break.

ETA: He doesn't look bad or unhappy, he looks like an ordinary guy.

Last edited by DavidwithanR; 08-13-2018 at 07:34 PM.
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Old 08-13-2018, 07:32 PM
DavidwithanR DavidwithanR is offline
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Stage presence is not a matter of talent or appearance. Itís magical; itís a gift. Up to a point, it usually does increase with experience.
So, you sincerely think it's magic, or you think we don't know the answer yet?
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Old 08-13-2018, 07:37 PM
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This would seem to credit The Swedish Chef with pretty much the greatest stage presence in history.
Thank you.
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Old 08-13-2018, 09:01 PM
DavidwithanR DavidwithanR is offline
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Thank you.
Iiiiingen ooooorsak! (BŲrk bŲrk bŲrk!)


(I know bÝrk bÝrk bÝrk is normally spelled in Danish, but I don't know why, so I translated it. )
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Old 08-13-2018, 10:33 PM
DavidwithanR DavidwithanR is offline
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I've been trying (mostly failing) to figure out what I think stage presence is.

And due to other unrelated conversations, I thought about my ex. And specifically about how at the beginning of my relationship with her, 30 years ago, we had "chemistry", and nearer to the end of the relationship, she (metaphorically but obviously) reached into herself and turned out the lights. Wilfully ended the chemistry.

And another situation, happier, in which I witnessed a group of top professional classical musicians rehearsing ahead of a recording session. It was distinctly underwhelming. Limp, even. Just a poor job all round. And then came time to record. I was apprehensive and confused. Some perfunctory words were spoken. The little red light came on. BOOM! The chemistry/electricity/whatever-it's-called was immense. They played brilliantly. It was inspiring. They all knew themselves well enough to know where the "on" switch was within themselves. And they all knew and trusted each other enough that they didn't worry about each other's ability to do that.

I think stage presence is a way of communicating with or connecting with the audience, with a mechanism very much like relationship chemistry between individuals (though perhaps quite different "content" is flowing across that connection). And I think that fear or dislike or simple unwillingness can stop it from happening. I also think there are people who have rarely or never used this feature of themselves, and who may potentially not know how, or not reliably.
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Old 08-13-2018, 10:45 PM
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I would define stage presence as the ability to hold my attention for sustained periods.

I'm not sure if one important element in stage presence has been mentioned yet: the performer needs to actually be good. All the charisma in the world won't hold my attention for long if they can't play/sing/act/whatever.

Thus, I'd suggest the elements of stage presence are: confidence, charisma, and performance capability.
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Old 08-13-2018, 10:56 PM
DavidwithanR DavidwithanR is offline
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I'm not sure if one important element in stage presence has been mentioned yet: the performer needs to actually be good.
I disagree, because you know as soon as they arrive on stage. Peter Sellers, Dudley Moore, Rowan Atkinson - Mr Bean never says anything, but stage presence in spades anyway.
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Old 08-13-2018, 11:27 PM
DavidwithanR DavidwithanR is offline
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(not saying they're not good, they are of course, but you feel/see "it" before they have a chance to display any skills.)
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Old 08-13-2018, 11:37 PM
Hilarity N. Suze Hilarity N. Suze is offline
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I worked on a big-deal musical in college (not as an actor) where the first male lead was supposedly this really gifted actor, and after a million rehearsals and a couple of performances I still wasn't seeing it. Oh, he knew his lines, and people did look at him. But then some things happened and the guy who had been one of the musicians took over the part. And man, did things change. The second guy did not have the focus, showmanship, or (frankly) the outsized head, and I mean this literally, the first actor had an out-of-proportion big head, but for some reason with the second guy in the part everybody in the cast seemed to sparkle. So while it diminished the "look at the main character all the time" part the play was actually much better with the second guy in it for everybody else.

Now as to why? The first guy had the mannerisms. He acted big. An, as I said, disproportionately large head and theatrically managed facial expressions. All this seemed to draw a lot of the energy on the stage to him.

The second guy fell organically into the part, like he was living it.

Last edited by Hilarity N. Suze; 08-13-2018 at 11:39 PM.
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Old 08-14-2018, 01:01 AM
DavidwithanR DavidwithanR is offline
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I worked on a big-deal musical in college (not as an actor) where the first male lead was supposedly this really gifted actor, and after a million rehearsals and a couple of performances I still wasn't seeing it. Oh, he knew his lines, and people did look at him. But then some things happened and the guy who had been one of the musicians took over the part. And man, did things change. The second guy did not have the focus, showmanship, or (frankly) the outsized head, and I mean this literally, the first actor had an out-of-proportion big head, but for some reason with the second guy in the part everybody in the cast seemed to sparkle. So while it diminished the "look at the main character all the time" part the play was actually much better with the second guy in it for everybody else.

Now as to why? The first guy had the mannerisms. He acted big. An, as I said, disproportionately large head and theatrically managed facial expressions. All this seemed to draw a lot of the energy on the stage to him.

The second guy fell organically into the part, like he was living it.
Are you essentially saying "major stage presence misused/abused for the sake of drawing attention to himself"?
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Old 08-14-2018, 09:35 AM
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Have you ever seen a group of people on a stage and noticed that one commanded your presence above all others? That is stage presence. Very few people have it.

I went to see a revival of Carousel and one actor in the chorus had more stage presence than anyone I've ever seen. I waited at the stage door and got her autograph, telling her "You are going to be huge on Broadway." Her name was Audra McDonald.

Montana Vernon, who plays Georgie Cooper on young Sheldon, has so much stage presence he steals every scene he is in.

Last edited by Annie-Xmas; 08-14-2018 at 09:35 AM.
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Old 08-14-2018, 11:33 AM
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Here's Mick Jagger teaching a class on stage presence:
http://www.simpsonsworld.com/video/285337155719
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Old 08-14-2018, 07:20 PM
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Ray Benson, Asleep at the Wheel. Looks kinda passive, but really commands the stage.
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Old 08-14-2018, 07:35 PM
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I disagree, because you know as soon as they arrive on stage. Peter Sellers, Dudley Moore, Rowan Atkinson - Mr Bean never says anything, but stage presence in spades anyway.
Yeah, it's not something I can define. It's some kind of cool confidence that is projected through body language and connecting with the audience. It needn't involve moving around a lot or making faces to the music or mastery of the instrument or anything like that (although it may). It's mainly some type of confidence. There's just some people who have this "aura" about them that is palpable. I wish I could define it or explain it, but I can't.
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Old 08-14-2018, 08:04 PM
Hilarity N. Suze Hilarity N. Suze is offline
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Are you essentially saying "major stage presence misused/abused for the sake of drawing attention to himself"?
I think I was actually considering there are different types of stage presence. The second actor's only theatrical training was sitting through all the rehearsals as a member of the orchestra (so he knew all the lines and the cues). I think for most actors stage presence IS drawing attention. Or maybe just controlling that reaction.
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Old 08-14-2018, 09:01 PM
DavidwithanR DavidwithanR is offline
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I think I was actually considering there are different types of stage presence. The second actor's only theatrical training was sitting through all the rehearsals as a member of the orchestra (so he knew all the lines and the cues). I think for most actors stage presence IS drawing attention. Or maybe just controlling that reaction.
I think I agree with a lot of that, but also, stage presence is famously susceptible to a kind of abuse - "pulling focus" it's often called, not that this is the only way to pull the audience's focus off of where it should be - in which the person is inappropriately doing things that make everyone pay attention to them instead of to the action.
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Old 08-14-2018, 09:18 PM
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That's called Upstaging.
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Old 08-15-2018, 08:13 AM
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Background: I am a weekend musician. I sing and play guitar in various bands. In the past I have been in regional acts, now I am local. I have played for up to 5,000ish people at festivals, but now I am mostly confined to the small club scene.

Anyway...I cannot quantify how much stage presence I have relative to others, but I can confirm that it is definitely something I turn on and off. I have frequently gotten myself into uncomfortable situations because when I interact with "fans" outside the context of musical performances they are seriously underwhelmed. They ask if something is wrong with me, if I'm mad at them, etc. or, even worse, they think those things and don't tell me. I have actually unintentionally made enemies this way.

In other words, normal me is very normal. Stage me is a different person.
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Old 08-15-2018, 12:12 PM
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My go to example of this is Julieanne Moore in the Fugitive. She is in the movie for maybe two minutes but she completely takes over every scene that she's in making you think the movie is about her character instead of Kimble.
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Old 08-15-2018, 01:13 PM
DavidwithanR DavidwithanR is offline
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That's called Upstaging.
Sort of. Upstaging is more specific. If you stand upstage of the other actors in your scene (i.e. you are farther from the audience than they are), then the other actors are forced to look away from the audience when they talk to you. So you become the only face the audience can see.
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Old 08-15-2018, 07:04 PM
Cabin_Fever Cabin_Fever is offline
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I always thought Stage Presence was a theatrical term for charisma. But you're all using it in reference to concerts, so I dunno.
I did not it intend to be limited to musical acts. My question was vague, granted, and I am not nor ever will be a performer. "Charisma" is another perfect word. Thank you.
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Old 08-15-2018, 07:16 PM
Cabin_Fever Cabin_Fever is offline
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Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
Yeah, it's not something I can define. It's some kind of cool confidence that is projected through body language and connecting with the audience. It needn't involve moving around a lot or making faces to the music or mastery of the instrument or anything like that (although it may). It's mainly some type of confidence. There's just some people who have this "aura" about them that is palpable. I wish I could define it or explain it, but I can't.
Yeah, that was kind of why I asked the question. I can't define it either, but know when I see it. (I had too much time on my hands that day. Thanks for all the responses so far).
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