I walked down the aisle, reciting my lines. I got to where Aggie was standing and gave her my lines. Pure agony swept over her face, as she looked at me and blinked. Instead of giving me my cue, she went on to say "So what did you do today? I got my nails done for the play, you like them?" She showed me her nails. This set me off, and instead of reciting the play we just went on. The director then started yelling at us in front of the whole audience, and made us do it all over. We started the play fine, again, but this time the whole cast, lost their places and the play was a flop. But instead of the audience, hating it, they loved it. The play was a smash. (One problem the play was 3 months ago)
Good morning, Alanna.
Performance anxiety affects us even more frequently off the stage than on it. Your audience consists of all the people who place expectations upon you, and there is tremendous pressure to perform as expected. However, when you just be yourself instead of following a script, you can find even greater appreciation from everyone -- except the director, who is that part of you that insists that every action be correct and proper.
There is a time and place for proper and expected behavior, but there should also be plenty of time to act spontaneously. Let go of your guilt over "not following the script."