Acting is comprised of physical, vocal, mental, and emotional work that requires preparation for you to do the best performance possible. Your body and mind need to be warmed up for you to deliver your best work to the camera.
Why are warmups important for actors?
A good warmup will help you relax, get rid of any anxieties, and make you feel looser in preparation for the physical demands of a performance.
Warmups are an essential part of any pre-performance routine.
7 Physical Warmups
Warmup routines don’t need to take up lots of time, and they can be done both alone and in a group.
1. Work your neck:
Roll your neck around forwards, side to side, then backwards. Roll it around in one direction, then the other.
Shrug your shoulders up, down, then roll them forwards and backwards.
3. Circle your arms:
Swing your arms in a circle in one direction, then the other, then in opposite directions.
4. Stretch your ribs:
Raise your arms above your head, then lean to one side, feel the tension release on your ribcage. Hold this position for a moment, then return to the upright position and repeat on the other side.
Stand completely straight, as if a string is pulling at the very top of your head. Now breathe in deeply and slowly through your nose, then exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat this process a few times to slow your heart rate down and relax.
Bend forward at the waist, dropping your head with your arms reaching downwards. Hold this position for 10 seconds. Then come all the way back up into a slight backward bend, holding for another 10 seconds. Repeat this process a few times until you feel your posture has improved, and you feel a little more relaxed.
7. Shake everything out:
Start out by shaking your hands, then bring the shake up into your arms, then into your entire body. This should release any lingering tension you might have.
3 Facial Warmups
Your facial expressions are key to a good performance, especially when filming a close-up shot. Warming up and relaxing your facial muscles will allow your face to be more expressive.
1. Massage your face:
You should begin your facial warmups by massaging your face in slow, circular motions to loosen the muscles around your mouth, eyes, and forehead.
2. Use the “lion/mouse” technique:
Yes, it sounds strange, but trust the process. Stand in front of a mirror and stretch all your facial muscles. Start by opening your mouth wide, like a lion roaring. Then scrunch your face into a meek, small expression – like a mouse. Switch back and forth between these two positions a few times.
3. Stretch your tongue: Stick your tongue out, then pull it down as far as you can, the up, now move it side to side. This will help you move your mouth with more fluidity and to enunciate and articulate your words.
6 Vocal Warmups
We have to make sure that you're not slipping up on your lines. Clear diction is imperative for an actor.
1. The “Hum”:
Exhale slowly, humming until you have let all of your breath out. Repeat this exercise around five times.
2. The “Ha”:
Stand up straight and place your hand on your belly. Breathe in while pushing your stomach outward, this lets you breathe from your diaphragm. Breathe out slowly whilst saying “ha ha ha”. Push your stomach in with every syllable. Repeat this process a few times.
3. Lip trills and flutters:
To do these, you should roll your tongue on the roof of your mouth to make a “trr” or “rr” sound.
4. Descending nasal consonants:
Say the word “onion”, but stretch the “ny” sound and make your voice lower every time you do so.
5. Tongue twisters:
Memorise a few tongue twisters, such as the classic “red lorry yellow lorry” or a personal favourite “unique New York” and repeat them to loosen up your mouth.
6. Yawn and sigh:
Open your mouth as if to yawn and let yourself sigh loudly from the top of your vocal register down to its lowest note.
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