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Matthew has just asked about thespy warm ups in a post. And I was… - Sally's Journal
May 18th, 2005
12:46 pm

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Matthew has just asked about thespy warm ups in a post. And I was thinking, for my own sake (and maybe for his, if he decides warm ups arn't the spawn of the devil) that it'd be good to have some written down somewhere. There's nothing like that blank "I can't think of anything" feeling when someone actually asks you to talk about something you ought to know!

So either comment so I can build up a useful and helpful LJ post, or point me at a book and tell me to stop wasting your time :-)

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From:atreic
Date:May 18th, 2005 11:48 am (UTC)
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Singing 1, 1-2-1, 1-2-3-2-1 up and down the scales
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From:lisekit
Date:May 18th, 2005 01:20 pm (UTC)
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Also A-E-I-O-U up and down scales, or just on one note.
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From:atreic
Date:May 18th, 2005 11:48 am (UTC)
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Playing zip-zap-boing
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From:atreic
Date:May 18th, 2005 11:48 am (UTC)
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Penguin racing!
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From:atreic
Date:May 18th, 2005 11:49 am (UTC)
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Potacatapetel / Copper Plated Kettle
From:(Anonymous)
Date:May 18th, 2005 04:45 pm (UTC)
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Popocatepetl (http://volcano.und.nodak.edu/vwdocs/volc_images/ north_america/mexico/popocatepetl.html) :-)
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From:atreic
Date:May 18th, 2005 11:49 am (UTC)
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Going round saying any of your lines from the play
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From:lisekit
Date:May 18th, 2005 01:08 pm (UTC)
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Or anyone else's lines.
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From:atreic
Date:May 18th, 2005 11:49 am (UTC)
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Going round all saying the same famous line, in charactor.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:May 18th, 2005 11:57 am (UTC)

warmup games

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that's that one where someone goes , in character, "I said a boom chica boom" and the cast copies him, "I said a boom chica raca chica raca chica boom" (likewise), "oh yeah", (see above), "uh huh", (as before), "one more time" (etc) "(insert character name here) style"...and it then passes to the person named. all very very silly. not sure how typical it is either.
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From:atreic
Date:May 18th, 2005 11:49 am (UTC)
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Rubber Chicken
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From:satanicsocks
Date:May 18th, 2005 12:05 pm (UTC)
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similar is Hitting Targets

instead of right arm, left arm, right leg, left leg, you have four targets in front of you (vertically) and you hit the top one four times, the next one four times, so forth, then three, then two, then one. When you're finished you can shout anything, we usually do the name of the show, or something topical :)
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From:atreic
Date:May 18th, 2005 11:50 am (UTC)
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Pretending to chew a huge ball of gum.
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From:bopeepsheep
Date:May 18th, 2005 11:58 am (UTC)
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Old MacDonald Had A Farm, but with a twist.
You've not lived until you've figured out the right noises for 'bookshelves', 'existential angst' and 'handcream', all while keeping the tune.

I also like 'I'm Not A Pheasant Plucker...' but some people just cannot do it and get sniffy. ;-)
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From:satanicsocks
Date:May 18th, 2005 12:07 pm (UTC)
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We often (to my despair) play Tag as a warmup.

Also there are improv specific warmups that we do like What's In The Box?, Seven Second Character and similar -- humanpingpongball.com has quite a few.
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From:conquest151
Date:May 18th, 2005 12:19 pm (UTC)
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Breathing. In for 4, hold for 8, out for 8, hold for 4. Or really any variation of numbers...
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From:leonato
Date:May 18th, 2005 03:40 pm (UTC)
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This should be done on each person's "natural note", never on middle C (no man can get lip buzz that high!).

The trick is to find the natural note, which is the one where your lips and nose buzz most easily. Get people to hum on this note, count to ten on it, and then speak at that pitch. It should be the proper pitch for good projection.

It's a great exercise for getting quiet people to speak louder.
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From:conquest151
Date:May 18th, 2005 12:20 pm (UTC)
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Sirens. Good for warming up and stretching the voice at first. Just them to sing the lowest note they can, the sweep up to the highest, and then sweep back down to the lowest
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:May 18th, 2005 12:26 pm (UTC)

The Notorious Fruit Impersonation

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Individually, each person impersonates a fruit, either in appearance or in essence/character.

--Mr. Pineapple
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From:satanicsocks
Date:May 18th, 2005 02:30 pm (UTC)

Re: The Notorious Fruit Impersonation

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Fruit's an interesting one. One of our core improv rules is "never, ever, ever, do animals". You always get so locked into crawling around and mooing (or whatever) that you don't do good improv or good comedy. But then, that's more a show thing, not a warmup.
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From:benparker
Date:May 18th, 2005 12:31 pm (UTC)

Ah-ha! Thespy question

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The warm up I run should always reflect what you're doing in the rehearsal. In fact, a lot of time warm ups for rehearsal are a bit thespy and not necessary. It depends what people are like, if they're up and ready to go then no need, if they look tired then do something physical. Anything physical. Penguin racing is good. If the cast don't know each other very well, then some kind of personal game might be better- an icebreaker.

If, for example, you're trying to get people to concentrate on their diction, tongue twisters are great. If it's breathing, then breathing games, or singing. If people are singing in the rehearsal, again you might want ot get them to work on their breathing, or do some easy stuff so they get into a musical frame of mind. THeir's loads of things.

For a performance, you really want people to get to the stage where they're ready to say the first line and it won't sound like a first line- hit the audience running. too often you see plays which are poorly warmed up and the first half scene sounds like you're working off a script. So a list:

- Penguin racing
- Humming and concentrating on breathing
- Aerobics to get physical
- Stretching if there's a lot of action involved in rehearsal/play (V. important)
- Diction
- Getting people to think about lines in context of character and not in context of a play. Avoiding mirroring.
- Accents
- Get-toknow you games- i.e make up a lie, trust games,
- Working on movement, diction, posture- breathing again I find drives this
- Lines backwards to work on line learning
- Improvisation, etc, to work on character

The list goes on... oh I miss directing!

Ben xxx
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From:small_and_blue
Date:May 18th, 2005 12:55 pm (UTC)
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We at OULES seem to have developed a habit of doing the hokey cokey before performances. It warms up the voice and gets the adrenaline and enthusiam going. For variation you can also do the Bill Bailey Kraftwerk German version...
"Man macht das linke Bein ein, das linke Bein aus...
ein aus ein aus..." you get the picture.
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From:lisekit
Date:May 18th, 2005 01:11 pm (UTC)
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Start a rhythm going with everyone in a circle in unison doing the following:

Stamp right foot, stamp left foot,
Slap right thigh, slap left thigh,
Punch (or slap) right side of chest, left side of chest,
Clap hands togther, pause 1 count.

So it goes in a clean rhythm of 8 counts: stamp-stamp-slap-slap-punch-puch-clap-(wait).

get everyone doing that really cleanly together. Then nominate anyone in the circle to take out one of the counts (as the percussion continues). Everyone has to pay attention as they do so, then copy in unison. Keep going around the circle, so you get different variations on the 8 counts.

If you lose the rhythm at any point, go back to the original 8.
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From:lisekit
Date:May 18th, 2005 01:13 pm (UTC)
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Pass the clap: start by going simply around the circle. The beginning person claps to the left, and the person immediately to the left "catches" the clap by clapping at the same time, then passes it to their own left (clapping to the let for the next person to catch). The aim is for the claps to be simultaneous, so they sound as one.

When this has gone round the circle a couple of times successfully, vary it by passing the clap to anyone around the circle. Everyone has to pay attention to see if a clap is being passed to them. It can go in any direction, and the aim is still to keep the claps simultaneous. Great for focus and attention.
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From:lisekit
Date:May 18th, 2005 01:19 pm (UTC)
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If you're working with young people or new people, there's absolutely nothing wrong with "Heads-shoulders-knees-and-toes". Everyone knows it, so they don't worry about whether they're doing it right or not, and it gets the blood circulating and stretches out the spine. Encourage everyone to reach right down and not cheat!

As a variation, you can do the rhyme "Hi, my Name's Joe (and I work in a button factory)" - lots of people know this one too, and it's not too difficult to pick up.

A very simple physical one is to shake each limb in turn as hard as you can, and shake your hands above your head and right down as low as you can; shake your shoulders, hips, head, and then everything all at once. Very silly, good icebreaker as well as a warmup!


An icebreaky-type warmup for introducing people to each other is to get everyone to say their name around the circle while doing a nice big movement that everyone then has to copy. Movements should be simple - a jump, a clap, a turn. Or, if you're doing any kind of movement work (if you're learning choreogarphy for a performance, say), everyone can do a movement from the work. You can also theme it - a movement based on water, for example (so people can do waves, or rain, or waterfalls).
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From:leonato
Date:May 18th, 2005 03:51 pm (UTC)
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Good sugeestions so far - some more:

Never do singing excercises if there is no singing involved, people don't like it.
Decide what type of exercise is needed:
Physical/Energy:
Start with stretches and shakes, do some "rolling up the spine" (get everone to flop over and stand up very slowly, vertebrae by vertebrae), build up to rubber chicken, my name's Joe or zip,zap, boing.

Concentration/trust:
Pass a hand squeeze round a circle with eyes closed, get this as fast as possible, add another in the other direction.
Play zombie: in a cicle first zombie walks towards first victim, victim makes eye contact with someone else, as soon as this happens victim becomes zombie and eyed-up person becomes victim and so on - played in silence, the zombie should never get the victim!
Clap passing: pass a clap round the circle going to person second on your left, add another to third on your right, say "Hello darling" to person on your left, etc. keep all these going at once.

Character work:
Needs to be more specific, try getting people to mime a day in the life of their character, portray their character as an animal, play "stand up, sit down, lie down" in character.
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From:atreic
Date:May 18th, 2005 03:53 pm (UTC)
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Oooh yes, I'd forgotten zombies!

What is this "my names Joe" of which everyone speaks?
From:(Anonymous)
Date:May 18th, 2005 04:53 pm (UTC)
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I loathe it with a passion. there are of course variations, but it's basically spoken to a beat:

Yo, my name's Joe, and I work in a button factory.
Got a wife, three kids, one day my boss came up to me
He said "Joe", I said "yo", he said "busy?", I said "no".
"Then push this button with your right hand..."

Now everyone mimes pushing a button with right hand, in time with the beat, keep going as you repeat and continue with "left hand", "right foot", "left foot", "nose", "bum"... whatever, until the point where everyone's flailing about enough that you can't think of any body part (behave!!) that would make any difference... and the final time you stop at:

... "he said "busy?", I said "YES!"


I hate it.

Michael B (aka musical monkey)
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From:ashfae
Date:May 18th, 2005 10:41 pm (UTC)
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Great suggestions above.

Inevitably we'd end up reciting Gilbert and Sullivan--just reciting, not singing--because it needed to be so precise that our lines seemed easy in comparison. ;) "To sit in solemn silence" etc was a common favorite.

But always, the one I've ended up reciting as a vocal warmup at nearly every rehearsal I've ever been a part of, is this poem:

What to-do, to die today at a minute or two 'til two
A thing distinctly hard to say yet harder still to do
For they'll beat a drum at twenty to one
With a rattatta tattatta tattatta tum
And the dragon will come when he hears the drum
At a minute or two 'til two today
At a minute or two 'til two.

I'm not sure why it's so omnipresent in my life; I think I just attract people who think the poem is nifty-sounding. ;)
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From:atreic
Date:May 18th, 2005 10:47 pm (UTC)
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Yes, we did that at every single Midsummer Nights Dream warmup. And also "The lips, the teeth, the tip of the tongue, the hard palette the soft palette and where the hard and soft palette meet"
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From:requiem_17_23
Date:May 18th, 2005 11:59 pm (UTC)
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Up an octave: (each line, new note)

"The lips and the
Teeth and the
Tip of the
Tongue;
The lips and the
Teeth and the
Tip of the
Tongue".

Then either reverse the order of the nouns ("Tip of the tongue and the teeth and the lips") or not, and go down the octave again.

Then go up a semitone and repeat.

Continue until you fall off the top of your register.

Go down again.
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