Being in the entertainment industry is not much different from being in the sports world. In addition to some natural talent and interest, a huge overlap with both industries is the time spent honing your craft. Of course regular practice is a necessary evil, but come race or audition day, our minds and bodies still need to be prepared for what’s about to happen. Just as we see athletes spending time stretching and warming up before a performance, it’s mandatory that actors warm up before auditioning. Good acting warm up games help you to get into a relaxed, focused space, where you feel ready to go out and nail that performance! There are plenty of fun acting games you can try on your own either in your acting lessons, or before an audition.
To begin, our bodies need to be loose and limber. Here’s a quick checklist to work through:
- Gently roll your neck backward, forward, and then around (clockwise and anti-clockwise).
- Roll both shoulders forward and backward to release any nervous energy.
- Extend your arms and begin to open up your chest. Remember to breathe deeply from your diaphragm.
- With arms extended, twist your waist side to side.
- Do a forward bend, dropping your head as far as it can go. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds.
- Finally, shake out your entire body starting from your hands.
Now that your body is getting warmer, you can get more playful with these acting warm up games!
Game 1: Energy Ball (for the nerves)
Stand in front of a wall and imagine that you’re gathering your energy in an invisible ball. Really start to feel it pulsating while holding it with both hands in front of you. When it starts to feel too intense, throw it against the wall. Feel it bounce back by leaning your body to receive and pitch it back to the wall. This is an awesome acting warm up game to help you focus your energy and get your body moving.
Game 2: Small Face, Big Face (for great expressions)
Micro-muscle facial control plays a huge part in your ability to express yourself, so it’s important to stretch out your face as well. Start by scrunching up your face like you’ve just eaten something really sour. Get your face as small as you can get it and hold that for 10 seconds. Now stretch your face with the widest, most surprised smile you’ve ever made (like the one you’ll have when you actually book the job you’re auditioning for!). Now hold that for 10 seconds and repeat the whole exercise a few times.
Now that you’re physically warm, it’s time to let your voice be heard. Remember, you don’t have to be a singer to warm up your vocal cords – it’s important that all actors do vocal warm ups before performing.
Game 3: O E (for a strong voice)
Even though it’s far from boring, start this game with a good yawn. Really – have a few wide yawns to open up your mouth and throat. Then start by slowly making exaggerated ‘O’ and ‘E’ sounds. As you repeat the letters, begin to speed up until you run out of breath.
Game 4: Good Buddha (for a flexible tongue)
Tongue twisters are one the best acting warm up games for the entire mouth. You can use the common ones like “Unique New York” or “She sells seashells on the seashore,” but this is one of our favorites for the palette as well as the upper and lower parts of the tongue – try saying, “Gooda, Gooda. Buddha, Buddha.” Repeat and progressively speed up. You can also try this in different tones so you can work on your range.
Finally, we’re sure you’ve spent a great deal of time learning your script and perhaps researching or imagining the character you want to bring to life during your audition, so here’s a fun exercise to throw in at the very end…
Game 5: Theme Song (for the right mood)
Music is a fantastic tool to help you get into the mood of your characters! Based on your understanding of your character, take some time to pick out a theme song for him/her. Answer this question: If your character were a piece of music, what would they sound like? Now process this idea around whether he or she would be modern, instrumental, slow, techno, etc. Once you’ve settled on a song, plug it into your phone or iPod and make sure you listen to it while rehearsing, warming up, and just before you sign into your audition.
Photo by Ben Smith