A Bunch of Acting/Improv/Drama Warm-ups From a Brit across the Pond

From Andy Kempe’s, “The National Drama Secondary Drama Teachers’ Handbook: 2nd Edition, National Drama, London 2001”
Alphabeti cannelloni
Standing on chairs or benches the class arrange themselves alphabetically by squeezing past each other. The game must be played in silence.
And then…
In pairs, one person starts to tell a story but breaks off with the words ‘And then…’ The partner carries on the story but again stops after a few sentences with ‘And then…’
Bang!
Stand in a circle. Point James Bond style at another player and say ‘Bang’. That players crouches down and the ones either side face each other and repeatedly say ‘Bang’. The first one to run out of breath is out. The winner then ‘Bangs’ someone else in the circle.
Bing Bong
In a circle. Pass an object around clockwise saying,‘This is a Bing.’
The receiver says ‘ A what? ’
and the leader says ‘ A Bing.’
That player then passes it onsaying ‘ This is a Bing’.
The player they pass it to says ‘ A what? ’
And they must turn to the leader and say ‘ A what? ’
The answer ‘A Bing’ is then passed on.
The game is complicated when a different object, called ‘A Bong’ is passed anti-clockwise.
Blood potato
The group walk around the room with their eyes shut. When they bump into another person they say ’Potato’ and get the reply ‘Potato’. The teacher will have tapped one player on the head. They are the
‘Blood Potato’. When players bump into someone and say ‘Potato’ but get the reply ‘Blood Potato’ they scream and then move to the side to watch the others playing.
Boom chicka boom
This is a simple call and response exercise which can be developed into something as complex as you please! Standing in a circle, the leader calls ‘I said a boom chicka boom’ and the class repeat this. The leader says the line again and the class repeats it. Then the leader says ‘I said a boom chicka chicka chicka chicka chicka boom’ and the class repeat it. And so it goes on…
Budgies, Bull and Bananas
The leader points to a person in a circle and says ‘Budgie’. That person becomes a budgie and the players on either side represent a mirror and a bell.The leader adds in more options such as Bat, Bull, Banana, Baboon, Beggar. For each one, the player pointed at represents the object and the players either side complement the image.
Chairee Ho!
Individuals work with a chair. Each time the teacherclaps her hands they must use the chair in a new way. Initially they signal different types of chair then move on to using the chair to represent different sorts of objects. The game is all about using mime and register to signal clearly. It can be extended into paired improvisations with the first player saying and doing something that will clearly signal to the partner what sort of chair it is.
Chatting through the A – Z
In pairs, players improvise a conversation but the first word of each new line of dialogue must work through the alphabet.
Count-up
In a circle, players try to count from 1 – 20. If two players speak at once they go back and start the count again.
Dracula
The leader stands in the middle of a circle and moves slowly towards a ‘victim’ who must make eye contact with someone else. That player says the victim’s name. They then become Dracula’s victim.If Dracula reaches them before they have got some-one to say their name they must become Dracula.
Fee Fi Fo
This is a call and response vocal warm up. The lines are as follows:
Fee
Fee fi
Fee fi fo
Vista
Cwm a la cwm a la cwm a la vista
Oh oh oh oh ah la vista
Eeny meeny decka meeny do what you wanna meeny
Zip diddely doo dah do do dha da dah
Fruit bowl
Players are seated in a circle and names ‘Apple,Banana, Pear’. One player stands in the middle and calls ‘Apple’. All the apples change seats. The player in the middle tries to get to one first, leaving another caller in the middle. If they call ‘Fruitbowl’ everyone must move.
Funky Chicken
Players shake their left hand vigourously counting up to ten. Then they shake their right hand, left foot and right foot, each time counting to ten. Repeat this counting up to eight, then six, then four, then two and finally one after which they all turn into chickens and call out ‘Funky chicken!’
Gatwick Airport
Players sit in a circle facing outwards. One chair is left empty. A volunteer tourist tries to get to the chair but the other passengers keep moving round the circle of chairs trying to stop them.
Get knotted
Stand in a circle with hands linked. The group weave in and out of each other until they are in a tight knot. They mustn’t let go off the hands they are holding, but then try to untie the knot.
Gretna Green
Stand in a circle with hands linked. One couple, with hands linked, move around the outside of the circle. When they tag another couple by touching their linked hands, that couple must leave the circle and race around anti-clockwise trying to get back to their space before the first couple, running clockwise, get there.
Hi Ho
Sit in a circle. Each player has a shoe in front of them. The shoes are passed around the circle to the tune of:
Hi Ho, Hi Ho It’s off to work we go with a shovel and a pick and a walking sticking hi ho hi ho hi ho hi ho hi ho it’s off to work we go…
Honey I love you!
In a circle one player says to another ‘Honey I love you, but I just can’t smile’. This is passed around the circle. Anyone who smiles is out.
Hot cakes
The teacher calls out a number or holds up a number of fingers. The class must get into groups of thatnumber in silence. The game can be extended so that once in the group they must make a geometric pattern with their bodies but again they must organize this without talking.
Juicy Fruit
In a circle mime passing round a piece of chewing gum. Each player has a chew then passes it on in an imaginative way.
Just a minute please
In pairs, one player talks on a topic for one minute. The listener must then relate what they have heard as exactly as possible to a new partner.
Liar!
In a circle. One player jumps into the middle and starts miming something. Someone else jumps in and asks ‘What are you doing? ‘ The first player must say that they are doing something different from what they are actually miming. The second player calls ‘Liar!’ but then starts to mime whatever they have been told. A third player jumps in and so on.
Oh yes!
In a circle, one player says the name of someone across the circle who must reply ’Oh yes!’ The first player then starts to walk towards their space while the second player says someone else’s name. The game is to get people moving across the circle as quickly as possible but no-one can move until they have been invited with an ‘Oh yes!’. Try to get lots of variations into how to say ‘Oh yes!’
On the bank
Players crouch down. The teacher demonstrates a simple action to go with the line ‘On the bank’ but tries to catch them out by saying the line and doing the wrong action. Add more lines such as ‘In the trees’, ‘In the pond ‘. The game is all about listening carefully rather than watching and copying.
Phantom Tickler
The group must start with their eyes closed. The teacher taps one player on the head. They open their eyes and the teacher points out a victim to them. They are now the Phantom Tickler. Everyone opens their eyes and starts to move around warily. The Phantom Tickler must stalk the victim, trying to get close up behind them and then tickling them round the middle.
Postcards
An extension of hot-cakes, groups of varying sizes must use their bodies to represent postcards from major tourist sites around the world.
Pussy want a corner
The group stands in a square, one player in the middle. This player goes up to individuals and says ‘Pussy wants a corner ‘. The answer is always ‘No!’ Other players in the square make eye contact with each other and try to swop places. If pussy gets to a space first they are replaced in the middle.
Safety net
In a circle, one by one players are invited to shut their eyes and walk across the circle. The players in the circle must protect those with their eyes shut and not allow them to bump into each other.
Squeeze
Players stand in a tight circle. One volunteer stands on the outside but tries to break into the middle ofthe circle by whatever means they can dream up.
Tag impro
Two players start an impro. in the middle of a circle.Another player can call ‘Freeze’ at any point. They then replace one of the first players by adopting their position exactly but re-starting the impro. Signalling a completely different scenario.
Where is Maria?
The teacher says ‘Where is Maria? ‘, the class answer ‘I don’t know.’ The teacher says ‘I don’t know’, the class says ‘Where is Maria? ‘
Teacher says ‘Um pa’, the class says ‘Yatatata’ and reverse.
Teacher says ‘Yes’, class say ‘No’ and so on. They have to listen carefully.
Who’s got the clap?
In a circle, the leader claps hands. The player on the left claps hands and so on round the circle. Now try it with your eyes shut or make it more complex by passing a number of claps round simultaneously in different directions.
Wink murder
In a circle, players have their eyes shut while the teacher nominates a murderer. One player then stands in the middle and tries to catch the murderer who is killing people by winking at them.
Zoof, Ho, Zap (Woosh, Bong, Hyperspace, Interstate)
In a circle, the leader passes round a mimed ball. As it is passed on, the players call ‘Zoof ‘. A player may block the pass and send it back by saying ‘Ho’ or pass it across the circle by pointing and calling ‘Zap’. Add as many new moves as you please

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