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Acting/Improv warm ups and exercises 
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Young Hoofer
Young Hoofer

Joined: Sat Oct 10, 2009 7:16 am
Posts: 49
Post Acting/Improv warm ups and exercises
I have the wonderful opportunity of student directing my high school's fall play, As You Like It. One of my jobs is to come up with acting games to warm up at the start of each rehearsal. I've been in the school musicals under this director so I know exercises that's he has done before, but I'd like to come up with some new ones rather than just copying what I've seen him do. All ideas are appreciated!


Sat Sep 18, 2010 11:20 am
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Broadway Legend
Broadway Legend
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Joined: Sat Aug 12, 2006 3:04 am
Posts: 1253
Location: Australia
Post Re: Acting/Improv warm ups and exercises
There's one a quite like that my old high school drama teacher called 21. It's good for making everyone focus, tune in to each other and work as an ensemble. Everyone sits in a circle in silence, then one person (anyone) calls out "one!" Another person (again, anyone, it's important that it's completely random and spontaneous) calls out "two!", etc, until you reach 21. The catch is that if any two (or more) people say the same number at the same time, you have to go back to the start. If this is too easy, take it up a notch by having them do the same exercise, but while walking around the stage or sitting facing outwards of the circle so they can't all make eye contact.


Sat Sep 18, 2010 6:34 pm
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Fresh Face
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Joined: Wed Dec 01, 2010 5:16 pm
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Post Re: Acting/Improv warm ups and exercises
In my university opera class, we like to work on improv by playing "What are you doing?" It's great for a large amount of people and it's a lot of fun. Someone starts out in the middle of the room acting like they're doing something, and then someone else walks up to them and asks, "what are you doing?" Then the first person responds with something entirely different, and the second person has to do what the first person said. Then you just have everyone play. :)

We also like to take random, everyday objects and see what we can turn them into. Sometimes we work in small groups or sometimes we take everyone and all the objects and make our own little world.


Wed Dec 08, 2010 6:54 am
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Fresh Face
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Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2012 5:50 pm
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Post Re: Acting/Improv warm ups and exercises
I believe it's called something like repeat and repeat or something like that. Everyone stands in a circle and one person starts by making any sound combined with a motion/action of some kind. Going around the circle everyone repeats this until the originator does it again and the next person comes up with something different. The idea is to go all out with it and to absolutely not think about what you are going to do next and just react with whatever speaks to you in the moment. It's really fun and zany. (It's also really fun to make people do what you want to see them do.) :)

Another is called zip-zap-zop. Everyone stands in a circle and one person starts by clapping and pointing to someone and making eye contact while saying "zip!" that person does the same with "zap!" the next with "zop!" see how fast you can do it. There are lots of exercises like this that vary.

Another is where someone stays outside of the circle and while the circle of people walk in the same direction around and around, making sure to keep the same distance between the person in front of them and in back, the outside person gives commands. "When you feel the time is right, you will jump" (or turn, or stop, etc...) using only soft focus and being conciouse of everyone's energy as a whole, everyone tries to do it at the very same time. It's interesting to see who the leaders and followers are and how well you listen to each other since obviously, all types of communication on stage are important.

I also like the one where everyone is in a circle and without ever letting go, everyone knots themselves up the best they can and you have to try to work together without speaking to undo yourselves. Obviously, this works better the more people you have.

Improv wise, I like "Transformational Object" in which an object is put out before everyone and two people start. One person has to decide what the object is and initiate a scene around it with the other person, When someone outside of the scene yells "Freeze" the actos must freeze in place. The person will then tap out whoevers place they want to take and continue with a new scene making the object a NEW object.

Another really interesting exercise which I find quite fascinating is the repetition exercise. It is used heavily in Meisner Acting technique. In this exercise, two actors sit across from each other and respond to each other through a repeated phrase. The phrase is about each other's behavior, and reflects what is going on between them in the moment, such as "You look unhappy with me right now." The way this phrase is said as it is repeated changes in meaning, tone and intensity to correspond with the behavior that each actor produces towards the other. Through this device, the actor stops thinking of what to say and do, and responds more freely and spontaneously, both physically and vocally. Over a longer period of time, more is added to this exercise to further an actors abilities. A lot of students of the Meisner Technique practice it but it's also good just for really keep up in your listening. An actor is lost without that of course so it's very useful.


Wed Jan 18, 2012 8:44 pm
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