Just like for any athlete, warm ups for actors are essential. Performing in a play is in many ways its own athletic event. Think about it: in sports, athletes practice rigorously each day in order to be able to instinctively react and improvise in the moment when it comes to game time. For actors it’s the same exact thing with rehearsal and performance. What makes this possible for both the actor and the athlete? A well warmed up instrument, able to spring into any direction at any given moment.
Warming up your body as a performer must be part of your creative practice. It should also be a comprehensive warming up of your entire instrument. An actor’s voice needs just as much care and attention in the warm up as his/her body. The actor must be able to project to all corners of the performance hall, filling the space with their voice. The trick is to to be able to do this without straining their vocal chords. This is where warm ups come in. Without warming up the voice, an actor can seriously damage their instrument.
But don’t worry – warm ups are actually a lot of fun! They are also distinct to each individual actor. Certain warm ups work better for certain people, so as you continue to develop and train as an actor, your warm up will evolve as well. In the meantime, we thought we would share a really fun activity that you can test out in your next warm up.
Tongue twisters are your best friend. This is not a cutting-edge idea. But before you toss it aside, think about why you do tongue twisters. Yes, they are fun. And it is also exciting to see who can do them the fastest. But more important than speed is precision. Tongue twisters warm up your articulators. That is, they make your lips, teeth, and tongue work together in unison to carry out tricky little patterns. When articulators are properly warmed up, audience members will be able to understand the words you are saying on stage. But how do you make the most of a tongue twister? Try this trick:
1. Stick your tongue out.
2. Work through your favorite tongue twister with your tongue out, working as hard as possible to still be understood.
3. Go back to the beginning, this time using your tongue to help you.
What you probably noticed is that the second time around, you were able to hit every single consonant with ease and precision. This is because all your other articulators worked twice as hard to forming those sounds without the help of your tongue.
Try it out and tell us what you think! Can’t think of a tongue twister? Try this one:
‘Does your shirt shop sell short socks with spots?’
Let us know how it goes, and pass along your favorite tongue twister!