Warming Up

People have a lot of different opinions on warming up, even in as small a community as we have in Pittsburgh.

I don't find this as a problem. People (or more specifically teams) should warm up however they feel readies them for a show. But there is one style I see a lot that I don't particularly feel is that helpful. So I want to start some discussion about that and propose some alternatives.

Here are what I find to be effective ways to warm up:

  1. Warm up the way you want to play. In Acting on Impulse, Carol Hazenfield talks about warming up the way you want to play. The Impostors is a great example of this. Our warm up is organic, different every time, connects the group together and gets us in the mindset of jumping on whatever idea comes up first and all supporting it hard. 

  2. Change your mindset. A valuable function of the warmup is to transition you from bank tellers and software developers to actors and improvisers. I use a mix of warm-ups I've learned throughout the years for this, but one great set of them is in this post by Barbara Kite. The important part is to connect with your breath, take off your mask, and open yourself to the work.

  3. Connect with your group. Some groups I play with are not into the Zip Zap stuff or the hippy dippy stuff. We typically just chat, bull shit, and riff. I find this also valuable. We are connecting with each other, personally and comedically. And typically a lot of what comes up before the show ends up on stage. The best example of this is in TJ and Dave's documentary, Trust Us, This is All Made Up.

The method I find least effective is playing games just because you're used to it. I see and have been on groups who learned warm ups from a teacher or coach (likely using the method #1) and play them before a show. They aren't focused on why they are warming up that way, just being silly and haphazard. If your focus is to play more silly, then great! But that can't be true of every group.

I see where this comes from. It is certainly an easy default, but I don't think it takes much extra effort to think through what you want to work on and get to #1.

What warm-ups do you find most effective?