Trust and Vulnerability


Students will demonstrate their ability to trust themselves and their classmates by participating in a vulnerability circle.



Materials Needed

Assessment Rubric


Lesson Directions

Anticipatory Set/Hook



For the opening activity, ask the students to clear the room because we are going to play TAG! However, this isn’t just ordinary tag. Someone is chosen to be “it,” and when they tag someone, that person has to scream horribly. This activity intends to open everyone up and get them to work uninhibited. Continue playing this “scream” tag until everyone has had a turn to die. Encourage everyone to go full out and try not to hold back. You also should encourage them to be specific in their scream and ask themselves exactly why they’re screaming.




Discussion: What did you like or not like about this activity? Was it difficult or not? Did anyone feel inhibited or embarrassed? Why or why not? Does anyone feel like they could have opened up more? Why?


Group Practice: Here we will work on emotion sculptures. This learning activity aims at getting the students to start tapping into their emotions, but with the reduced risk of a group setting. Students will get into a clump in the middle of the room. The instructor will say some sort of emotion, and they will have 12 seconds to create a non-human sculpture that embodies that emotion. Remember to tell students that you don’t want to see each student doing the physical human reaction to that emotion, but rather the bodies as a whole together should create a sculpture that represents that emotion. Example emotions range from happy, sad, scared, interested, curious, and guilty to more complex phrases like “I’m sorry,” “I miss you,” and “Why did you hurt me?”


Guided Practice: Continue to have the students do the emotion sculptures as a group, but start using more complex phrases like the latter ones mentioned before. After the sculpture is made, ask a student to begin a scene that revolves around that phrase. They don’t have to say the phrase if they don’t want to, but for example an “I’m sorry” scene would probably have someone apologizing for some reason. That person will step out of the sculpture, and another student will have to volunteer, step out of the sculpture, and create the scene with the student who first stepped out. If the students end the scene themselves, that’s fine, and if they keep the scene going the teacher may say “thank you” when they see fit for them to conclude. Do this until everyone has stepped out of the sculptures at some point.


Discussion/Check for Understanding: How did you feel during this activity? Did anyone feel inhibited by something? Did anyone see any good examples of classmates taking risks? What did you like or not like about doing this? How did the words and phrases effect the way you used your body? How did they guide the scenes? Why?


Guided Practice: Explain that for this activity, each student must start off with a partner. Each partnership will stare into each other’s eyes. While they are doing this walk around the room and ask questions and give statements like the following: What is the other person telling you through their eyes? Can you really see them? Do they have a wall up that you can see? Are they letting you in? Really try to open yourself to the other person. Let them in and give them something. Share something with them. If you have the impulse, go ahead and touch their hand. Grab it. Now, when you feel ready, break eye contact and switch partners. We will continue to do this as long as time permits. This exercise really starts opening the students up to be vulnerable to their classmates. It is amazing at establishing trust.


Discussion/Checking for Understanding: What did you guys feel during this activity? Was it difficult, yes or no? Why? What all did you notice? Was everyone giving the same, or did you come across people who were giving more than others?




Assessment: For their assessment on trust and vulnerability, the students will participate in a vulnerability circle. Students will make a big circle in the middle of the room. One student will volunteer to begin, and he/she will walk across the circle to a classmate and say something positive such as “You are very talented,” or “You make me smile.” The goal is to walk completely openly. It is very obvious which students are allowing themselves to be open and vulnerable, and which ones are using different vices to keep themselves emotionally protected. They need to say their statement with complete honesty. They will then walk backwards, still openly, back to their spot. The person they went to will then walk back to them and say the same thing, and then walk backward back to their spot. They will then go and do the same to someone else, with a different statement. If you notice anyone who is clearly not walking openly, try to coach them and have them try it again. Remind the students that this is a chance for them to show you what they’ve learned, and to be focused and serious. We will do this until everyone has a turn. A simple rubric will be used to score each student out of 5 points.




* Assessment will be out of 5 points. Scores of 4 or 2 may be given as needed.

  • Clearly made a visible effort to be open and vulnerable.
  • Said their positive statement with honesty and sincerity.
  • Did not make the exercise a joke.  Took it seriously.
  • Overcame inhibitions.
  • Was making an effort to be open.
  • Still had some sort of inhibition.
  • Possibly did not improve if asked to try again.
  • Turned the exercise into a joke.
  • Clearly refused to attempt openness and vulnerability.




What did you feel during this? What was easy or difficult for you? What were some characteristics of people who allowed themselves to be completely open and vulnerable? Is vulnerability important in acting? What about improv specifically? Why or why not? Why is it important that we all trust each other in this class? Why is it important that we are able to really focus and pay attention?