by Kayla Doyle & Daniel Fifield


EDUCATIONAL OBJECTIVE: Students will demonstrate their understanding of honest acting by honestly portraying their own emotions through an activity done in class.



  1. A box full of stuffed animals
  2. Video clip of Anthony Hopkins in Shadowlands (8:40-10:22)
  3. Video clip of Leonard Bernstein conducting Beethoven’s 7th Symphony 2nd Movement (1:58-3:34)
  4. Songs:
  5. Video clip of Bernadette Peters – Rose’s Turn – Tony Awards (1:48-5:40)

Lesson 8.In the Dark of the Theatre Cutting



  • Personal notebooks and something to write with.



  • Dump a box full of stuffed animals on the floor. Everyone grab a stuffed animal. Give him/her a name. Now, create a personality for that animal. What does it’s voice sound like, how does it walk around. Now, walk around the room and interact with each other.


STEP 2: Transition – After they’ve had time to do this activity with each other, call everyone’s attention to you. Ask:

  • Who would like to introduce their animal to the class? (Use this person in the next step)


STEP 3: Discussion – Write the word “Honesty” on the board

  • Believe it or not, there is a purpose to this silly activity. Think seriously about this. Ask yourselves in all honesty, is this stuffed animal real (a real animal)? Not really. But you gave it personality, voice, movement, a name, a character. Can it possibly be real?
    • Never forget (Point #1: Becoming like a child. Believing like a child)
    • Did you know that small children literally believe that stuffed animals have feelings. They are incapable of comprehending that they are fake. They truly believe that they are real.
  • How does that relate to theatre?
    • What we’re doing in theatre is taking a character with no life and giving life to it. But instead of portraying that character through a stuffed toy, we portray it through our bodies.
    • Does this make sense?


STEP 4: Modeling

  • Explain that we will watch a video of Anthony Hopkins playing C.S. Lewis. He is talking with his colleagues about one of the opening chapters of his book, “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.” They call him Jack.
  • Pay attention to how the actors don’t seem like actors in the film. They seem like the real people. How do they do that? How does Anthony Hopkins pull off being C.S. Lewis without us going, “No way! You’re not really C.S. Lewis!” What about his acting causes us to believe in his performance?
    • Show the clip from Shadowlands.
  • Ask the students: What did you observe?
    • Make sure they understand in some way that as an actor, he was invested in his character. He believed himself to be C.S. Lewis.


STEP 5: Discussion continued(Point #2: Understand what is real vs. what is fake)

  • Have the class shout out their favorite broadway musicals. Shout them out.
  • Has anybody seen Wicked? You may be familiar with the music.
    • If not, imagine that you are in a Broadway theatre, best seat in the house: smack dab center, third row from the front, the show’s about to begin. The overture begins (sing the first snippet of the overture). The curtains open and you are totally caught in that moment in time. You fall in love with the story, the spectacle, the music, the characters. You laugh, you whoop and holler, you cry, you become so attached to this show that by the time you walk out of that theatre, you feel inspired maybe, uplifted, entertained, perhaps even changed.
    • But, is what you saw on that stage real or fake? Why?
    • In the minds of the actors, were they being real or fake?
      • An actor has to be real.
    • What is “honest acting?”
      • Honest acting does not mean telling the truth. It means being true to your character. It means being real.
        • Honest acting requires an “emotional reality”
        • It is being real vs. pretending.


STEP 6: Instruction(Point #3: You have to feel it)

  • Write on the board “X=X”
    • As you are well acquainted via math class, this is the same as saying 4=4, brick=brick, or in our case, emotion=emotion: the emotion you feel as an actor is the emotion the audience will feel- if you portray it honestly
    • (Point #4: After you feel it, you must learn how to show it: take off your mask)
    • Acting is becoming like a child. If you take a candy bar from a little kid, what happens to her face? What she feels on the inside will show on her face 110%.
    • As we grow up, we try to fit in, right? Try to be cool- keep it fresh.
    • Talking to the boys here- when was the last time you cried in public? Pretty much never, right? Boys are supposed to be TOUGH!
    • Girls, when was the last time you yelled at someone in public? Got really, truly angry and let it show? Pretty much never, right? Because we’re supposed to be nice and polite. This is how society has taught us to be.
    • Come join me on the floor- we’re having a heart to heart. I just want a show of hands on the next one, no one has to elaborate.
    • How many of you have been so happy you could’ve sung? How many of you have been so excited you wanted to tell everyone you met about what happened or was going to happen? How many of you have been so scared you couldn’t speak? How many of you have grieved and felt that pain of loss?
    • How did it feel, knowing society wouldn’t let you sing, or talk, or cry? Did you feel trapped? Alone? Ignored or neglected? These are painful things that no one should have to suffer, and yet society runs like none of it ever happens.
    • I’m going to read you guys something my theatre teacher once read to me:
      • Read “In the dark of the theatre”
    • In the theatre, you can be honest. There is nothing to hide. We are extraordinary by virtue of these deep feelings society wants us to suppress. We are amazing. And in the theater, we can show it. We don’t have to hide.
    • If you take one thing away from this lesson, I want you to know that the theater is safe. Here, we only laugh with you. We cry with you. We’re afraid with you. You are not alone in the theatre. But you have to show us what you’re feeling. You have to be honest with us, and we will be honest with you.


STEP 7: Checking for Understanding

  • Now I want you guys to jump up. We’re going to practice.
  • Find your own space in the room- move the chairs if you need to. Don’t look at anyone, don’t touch anyone. This is your Before you can be honest with your audience, you must first be honest with yourselves. Once you’ve found your space, stand there, and close your eyes.
    • Think about your week. For me it’s been long and hard. For you it may have been easy and full of joy. Go over the events in your head. Remember how you felt- not how you said you felt, but that raw, powerful, honest Let it boil up inside you and spread through your body, down every artery to the tips of your fingernails. Were you angry? Sad? Happy? Excited? Feel it now. The emotion is yours, you can call on it whenever you want! Let it flow through you and out of you, because there is plenty where that came from! Now open your eyes and walk– go wherever you want, just don’t crash into anyone. Show me in everything that you do how you felt this week- show me in your face, in your stride, how you swing your arms, embody that emotion.
    • Now stop. Close your eyes again, wherever you are. Let the emotion slip out of you again. It’s still there- it’ll always be there and you can always call it back. But right now, let it go. Don’t push it away, just watch it leave.
    • Now we’re going to watch a clip and see how Leonard Bernstein speaks to us with his emotion. See if you can feel how he feels.


STEP 8: Modeling

  • Explain to the students that you will show a short video clip of Leonard Bernstein conducting Beethoven’s 7th Symphony 2nd Movement. Explain that at this point in Beethoven’s life, he had just been told that he was deaf, and he moved out of the city into a cottage and was struggling with suicide. Then he decided that God had given him a gift and that he was to give all of himself to the world before he died.
  • Ask the students to watch the conductor’s face. Tell them to see if they notice when tears fall from his face. Pay close attention to how he outwardly portrays the emotions he feels inside.
    • Play the video from 1:58 to 3:34.
  • Ask the students: what did you observed? Do you think you can do that?


STEP 10: Modeling – Bernadette Peters

  • Because it’s Bernadette Peters, we’re going to watch her be amazing in this clip:
    • Bernadette Peters – Rose’s Turn – Tony Awards
  • Tell the students to think of everything discussed in the day and observe how she is a good example of “honest acting.”
    • Play the clip.
  • Ask the students what they thought of Bernadette’s performance. What did they learn? What did they see in today’s lesson that she applied in her performance.


STEP 9: Reflection

  • Return to the classroom to discuss what the students learned.
    • Ask each student think of 3 things they learned about themselves and record them in their personal journals.



  • Write on the board the main points of honest acting and tell the students to record these in their notes and engrave them in their souls.
    • Point #1: Believe, like a child, that your character is real.
    • Point #2: Don’t fake it. Be real.
    • Point #3: You have to feel it inside before you can show it.
    • Point #4: Learn to take off your mask and show what you truly feel inside.


ASSESSMENT: The activity combined with writing assignment is the assessment of today. If they participated in the activity and did their best effort and wrote, they get full 5 points for the day. If they slacked, they get … less.