International Tongue Twisting Contest Day!

At Virginia Stage Company, we say “Tongue twisters are totally terrific!”  They get performers in a practice of vocal presentation and projection.  They’re a fun way to build a sense of community in pre-rehearsal or pre-show warm-ups. And, of course, they encourage connection and dexterity between the brain, the tongue, and the articulators.

Since National Tongue Twister Day is tomorrow, we at VSC’s Education Department have selected some sample exercises to share.  The following are four of our fantastic, fun-filled favorites.

1.     Say each of the following lines over and over, gradually increasing tempo until you get mixed up and/or blow your own mind.

·         Unique New York.

·         Red leather. Yellow Leather.

·         Toy boat.

·         Three free throws.

·         Rubber baby buggy bumpers.

·         Red bulb. Blue bulb.

·         Cinnamon, aluminum linoleum.

·         Comical economists.

2.    Make sure you encourage the use of “stage voice” when speaking.  Here’s a great tongue twister to pair with a physicalization that will help encourage that PROJECTION!

·         She THRUSTS her fists against the posts and still insists she sees the GHOSTS!

As you say “THRUSTS,” literally thrust your fists (and your words) to the back of the theatre.  Continue to maintain that “stage voice” volume throughout the line so that “GHOSTS” remains powerful and doesn’t drop in volume or fade out.

3.    How about a fun variation of the tongue twister ritual for groups?  EMOTIONALLY-CHARGED TONGUE TWISTERS!  Bring all participants into a circle, then ask each to say a tongue twister as colored by different emotions. (Angry, sad, happy, scared, frustrated, confused, etc.)  You may even direct the activity by calling out different emotions as the tongue-twister travels from actor to actor around the circle.  Want some good tongue-twisting sentences for this varying of emotions?  Try these! 

·         Which wristwatch is the Swiss wristwatch?

·         The big blue bug bit the big black bear and the big black bear bled blue blood.

·         All I want is a proper cup of coffee made in a proper copper coffee pot.

·         I thought a thought. But the thought I thought wasn’t the thought I thought I thought.


4.    Imagine the dramatic works a group of actors might create with a PANTOMIME TONGUE TWISTER SCENE!  Assign a tongue twister to each group.  Allow just a minute or two for them to use the tongue twister to inspire a dramatic, physically-active, emotionally-charged pantomime scene.  Each group will present their mimed scene.  Then, using the emotion from the scene, they’ll lead the entire class in a call and response of the tongue twister. (Below are a number of tongue-twisters sure to provide pantomime, emotion, drama, and some good articulation exercise!)

·         She should shun the shining sun.

·         The big black backpack broke badly.

·         The beautiful blue balloon burst abruptly.

·         A shapeless sash sags slowly.

·         Smelly shoes and socks shock sisters.

·         Rick kicks sticky bricks.

·         Shave a single shingle thin.

·         Cooks cook cupcakes quickly.

·         Flora flings freshly fried fish.

·         A bragging baker baked black bread.

·         Buy blue blueberry biscuits before bedtime.

·         She sold six shabby sheared sheep.

·         The sixth sick sheik’s son slept.