Warm ups for actors

Every middle school theater class should start with a robust session of warmups for actors. Our warmups for actors unit is part of the The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Play curriculum kit, but it can be used to start any middle school theater class session. The unit includes vocal warm ups for actors.

Meet Teaching Artist, Director, Writer and Actress Cynthia Lowa

Cynthia Lowa has taught acting and voice at Windermere Preparatory School, University of Central Florida, The Children’s Theatre of Florida, the New York Film Academy at Disney/MGM Studios, and other Orlando studios for more than ten years. She has directed multiple productions including Dear Edwina, Starmites, Tom Sawyer, The Rockin’ Tale of Snow White, Peter Pan and Wendy, Shrek the Musical, Murder at the Banquet, Nobody to Murder, and Lion King, Jr., A Broadway Musical Revue; The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, and others! CreateTruthAlive.com

Warm ups for actors

Video curriculum:

  • Teaching Artist Bio
  • Warm ups for actors

Drama Lesson Plans for Middle School include:

  • Editable Google Slides 
  • Self Grading Google Form
  • Vocal warm ups for actors
  • National Art and Common Core Standards
  • Summative and Formative Assessments

Teaching apps and tech tutorials:

  • SeeSaw
  • Kahoot
  • FlipGrid
  • Self Grading Google Form 

warm up for actors

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The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Play: Warm ups

Watch Cynthia Lowa’s teaching session on warm ups which is one of the sessions in the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Play curriculum kit.


Warm Ups Video Transcript

Let’s start the warm-ups with both feet planted firmly underneath your shoulders so they’re not too far apart or too close together. Make sure you have good balance between both of your feet and your shoulders. Your pelvis should be just slightly tucked under so you keep your knees from locking.  Let’s loosen up your spine.

The Beach Ball

Let’s imagine that we are holding a beach ball with our arms in the front, and inhale deeply through your mouth.   Now, squeeze the beach ball as you arch your back and blow out air while pulling in your stomach muscles. This is not only a breathing exercise, but it stretches out the shoulders! [Demonstrates.] Do it with me several times.

Sip, Hiss lll

Take a deep breath inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth at your own pace. Do it again. Inhale through the nose, and exhale through the mouth.  This time sip through an imaginary straw 4 times and then you’re going to hiss out through your teeth on the exhale 8 times. It goes like this. 

The Swimmer

Let’s do another breathing exercise and act like we are swimming in water!  First with your head up take a deep breath through your mouth and then you’re going to put your head down and you’re going to exhale out your mouth and move your arms. [Demonstrates –  Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale.]  Wasn’t that fun?! 

The Roller Coaster

Let’s warm-up our voice a little bit more by exploring our vocal range.  Imagine that you are starting at the very bottom of the hill and you are going to slowly right up to the very top and then once you get to the top you are going to slide all the way back down. But we are going to do this with the pitch of our voice. [Demonstrates.] We’ll learn a little bit more later about how as actors we can use different pitches to represent different characters. For now let’s glide through the lowest and highest pitches of our range by doing the Roller Coaster. [Demonstrates.]

Theater Warm Ups Tongue Twisters

Let’s do some tongue twisters. After I say the tongue twister, you repeat after me. Make sure that you project, open your mouth wide on the vowels, and feel your tongue hitting your teeth so that someone in the back row of a theatre could hear every word that you said clearly.

Diction is done with the tip of the tongue and teeth. 
Zip, zap, zop.
Tip, tap, top.
Flip, flap, flop. 
Whip, wap, wop.
Dip, dap, dop. 
Bippity, boppidy, boo.
Swim, swam, swum.
Fat Frogs Fly Past Fast 
Which wristwatches are Swiss wristwatches?
Excellent work. Now you’re ready for your learning session!

Reasons why theater warm ups are so important for actors

In case your middle school theater students ever ask you why theater warm ups are so important? Here are some great reasons you can give them:

  • Warm up your voice.

Your voice is the actor’s main tool. Vocal warm up exercises can help actors with quality, clarification, diction, projection and tone are all vital. Breathing exercises, vocal roller coaster exercises, and tongue twisters are some really great techniques to get your voice ready for an audition or a performance.

  • Warm up your body.

Actors use every part of their body to embody their characters and convince the audience that the actor and the character are one and the same. So just like an Olympian athlete would care for her arms, legs, or any other body parts in order to have an optimum performance, so should an actor work out and stretch their body to prepare for an audition or performance.

  • Warm up your mind.

Before an audition or a performance, your emotions may be all over the place. You may feel excited, terrified, nervous, or ready to conquer the world. All of the physical exercises and warm ups you do will help calm your emotions and focus your mind on your character, your lines, your blocking, and your interaction with other characters.

You can find a million different warm up exercises to use and to make a part of your pre-performance routine. It’s smart to have a variety of options so you don’t get bored, but you don’t have to change your routine every time. Find a routine that works well for you, and do it. 

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