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acting exercises

The Best Acting Exercises

Can acting exercises really help you become a better actor? The art of acting is an exceptional form of communication. As an actor, you communicate thoughts and ideas to your audience through emotions, words, and actions. So, the performers need to have a command on their physical, mental, facial, vocal, and emotional expressions.

However, not everyone can be a professional actor, but with some time and effort, anyone can be taught to act like one.

Actors use a variety of acting exercises to stay limber and focused, not just on stage, but also in their everyday lives. These exercises not only help them ‌enhance their skills, stage-presence, and reduce their stage fright but also work as pre-workout to warm up their mind and bodies.

Acting schools use a variety of the best acting exercises and games to prepare actors, who then deliver noteworthy and memorable performances. Some of these same techniques you may find in an online acting class as well.

Here are a few acting exercises you can use to sharpen up your craft. Some of them are simple theater games, while others are more complex. All of them are designed to help develop your acting abilities.

Acting exercise to Train Your Different Zones of Emotions

Actors must learn to play the full range of emotions. To do this, they sometimes use “stimulation exercises” — for example, imagining being chased by a bear. These exercises help them ‌recognize and develop a variety of emotions. In every acting class, whether it’s an in-person or an online acting class, you’ll find exercises that simulate real-world situations, though you don’t always need an instructor to run a good simulation exercise. Some of these techniques can also be practiced alone or with a fellow actor.  

How to Do Simulation Exercises on Your Own:

  1. Jot down a list of different emotions/feelings, such as being happy, sad, surprised, angry, bored, annoyed, ecstatic, etc.

  2. Try saying the same phrase (for example: “Can you help me, please?”), using different emotions you have listed in step 1.

  3. Make a mental note of how the meaning of a phrase changes depending on the emotion behind it.

  4. Repeat this exercise with different phrases.

 

Learn to Emphasize with this acting exercise

Actors need to pay attention to the pitch, volume, and speed of their speech to communicate effectively. Intonations can change the meaning of a sentence. Learning what words to emphasize is part of a methodical oral presentation. If you want to be convincing, learn which words to emphasize.

How to Practice Emphasizing:

  1. Select a dialogue from your script.

  2. Count the number of words in the sentence. For example, the sentence “Can you come here please?” has five words.

  3. Write down the sentences as many times as there are words it has.

  4. For each sentence, highlight a different word.

Example: 

Can you come here, please?

Can you come here, please?

Can you come here, please?

Can you come here, please?

Can you come here, please?

  1. Say the sentences aloud one by one while emphasizing the highlighted word.

  2. Notice how the meaning of the sentence changes depending on which word you emphasize.

 

Control Your Breathing

Control your breath when you’re on stage. Your breathing is everything. It’s the core of your performance, sustaining you and buoying you up as you deliver your lines. By breathing life into the dialogues and drawing the audience into what’s happening; a great actor can give their performance an extra dimension. 

Do you know how to breathe correctly before and during a scene? Here is a quick exercise you can do to help you integrate your breath into your performance.  

How to Control Your Breath:

  1. Stand tall, with your feet on the ground and your shoulders back. Think of a string coming out of the top of your head that keeps you standing straight and tall.

  2. Put your hands on your belly. Try breathing in through your diaphragm. Imagine that your lungs and diaphragm are balloons that are filled with air. Feel your stomach grow and shrink as you breathe in and out.

  3. Take a deep breath in for four counts, then let it out through your teeth with an “ssssss” sound. When you get to four, start exhaling sharply.

  4. Breathe in for four counts, and then breathe out for eight counts. Exhale for longer counts each time you do the exercise (ten, twelve, fourteen).

 
 
Practice Different Roles

You can do this exercise by yourself, with a partner, or with a group. 

  1. Pick five roles that are all different from each other. For example, a school librarian, a boxing champion, a stand-up comedian, a motivational speaker, and an army sergeant.

  2. Take each character one at a time and improvise for 45 seconds to a minute. Try to capture each of these characters’ unique tones, energy, points of view, gestures, and feelings.

  3. If you are practicing with a partner or in a group, the people who are watching you practice can assess each of your performances and give their feedback.

  4. Once you get good enough at one role, switch to another one.

  5. Rinse, and repeat.

 
Feel Your Surroundings

Feeling your surroundings is one of the most basic acting exercises you can do on your own. As the name implies, you must be aware of your surroundings. Whether it’s the sound you hear or the objects you see; collect each impulse and stimulus.

According to Morgan Freeman, “Listening is a key aspect of acting. An actor who is a good listener has a very good chance of being successful in this business.”

By “listening” he meant not to just listen through your ears, but to learn to engage all your five senses and become more observant. The more perceptive your senses get, the more receptive you will become as an actor.

How to Get a Feel of Your Surroundings:

  1. Step onto the floor and start walking. Try feeling the floor. Experience it. See if it’s cold or hot, slippery or dirty.

  2. Allow the floor to feel you now. Walk with a confident stride, and let your feet connect with the floor in a way that feels natural to you.

  3. After you’ve felt the floor, concentrate on your breathing. Do not force it; instead, observe how your body moves in response to your breath. Consider how long it takes you to inhale and exhale.

  4. Let the sounds from your surroundings add to your focus. Investigate these sounds. It could be the sound of an air conditioner, a fan, or the wind, or it could be someone talking.

  5. Just try to focus on listening and get a feel of the surrounding space.

Take Your Acting Work to the Next Level

In this day and age, there are a lot of ways to become a successful actor. From enrolling in professional acting schools to taking an online acting class, the possibilities are endless and you can pick and choose whatever suits you best based on your own convenience.

In fact, some of the Acting Courses Online are so detailed and well-designed that they rival even the best schools and with the advent of the internet, you get the world-class mentorship at your fingertips without even needing to move from your couch! 

One such widely popular program is The Laura Mac Method, developed by veteran actress and well-known mentor Laura Mac. Being in the industry for more than 20 years and mentoring hundreds of actors throughout her career, her witty yet perceptive approach to acting is a breath of fresh air.

Her Laura Mac Method series of online video courses is exactly what it claims to be: an exhaustive guideline for beginners and professionals alike. It doesn’t ‌feed you a bunch of fillers and hype you up about how you’ll become an overnight celebrity. Instead, it gives you practical information on how to succeed as an actor, how to prepare for an audition, and master your craft in front of the camera. 

Whether you’re a beginner trying to get your foot in the door or a professional trying to repurpose your acting career, it is designed to set you on the right path. Start your journey here.

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