Theatre Warm-Ups

Hi, everyone! Before any rehearsal or performance, each and every theatre company has warm-ups. It varies from group to group, but I thought I would share our warm-up process with you.

  1. Stretches.  Theatre is a much more physically demanding process than most people realize.  To make sure we stay loose and flexible, we spend five to ten minutes stretching each group of muscles, starting with our arms and working our way down to our legs.  Some of our favorite stretches include lunges (make sure to keep your knee over your toes!) and arm windmills
  2. Vocal Warm-Ups.  Obviously, actors do a lot of speaking and the best way to prepare for this is to make sure our lips and tongues are loose and ready to go. First, we spend some time stretching our mouths by over-exaggerating the sounds we make (for example, try over-exaggerating the following words: red leather, yellow leather, blue leather, green leather).  After our mouths, and more specifically jaw, are warmed up and loose, we begin tongue twisters. Tongue twisters are really popular around the theatre for the following reason: they’re fun to say! Here are a few of our favorites: I slit a sheet, a sheet I slit. Upon the slitted sheet I sit or I am a mother pheasant plucker. I pluck mother pheasants. I am the most pleasant mother pheasant plucker to ever pluck a mother pheasant.
  3. Projection.  What good is an actor being able to speak if the audience can’t hear them? To help with this, we’ve developed an exercise to help our casts think about making sure their voices are heard in every seat in the house. The entire company moves to the edge of the stage and picks a one-syllable word. After placing their hands on their diaphragms to make sure they are breathing properly, we say the word in unison three times: the first, quiet enough that only the first row of seats can hear us, the second loud enough to be heard in the back row, and the third time loud enough to hear from the other side of the building.
  4. Energy Exercise.  An energy exercise is just that: an exercise designed to focus and give energy to our group just before we start the actual rehearsal process. There are tons of energy exercises, and usually, we do a different one each night, so it doesn’t get stale.

And that’s our warm-up process. The entire thing can take anywhere from fifteen to twenty-five minutes, depending on the needs of each group and the nuances of the night.



2 thoughts on “Theatre Warm-Ups

  1. Interweaving! Language (pleasant mother pheasant pluckers and slit sheets) and images–I can’t help but notice how lively the sketch makes your post, AND helps with our understanding. Expression appears to rely on all the creative disciplines.

  2. Pingback: Clever little cats don’t scratch crocodiles (and other tongue twisters) « Mind Your Language

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