Every Breath

Written by Judith Johnson / Produced by Theatre of Debate

Facilitator Notes

Using the ‘Every Breath’ in your school

We have provided these preparatory and follow up lessons to support the use of the project in your school. The suggested lessons are designed to provide your students with an opportunity to clarify and deepen their understanding of the issues raised by the drama.

Preparatory Lessons
If short on time, we suggest that you prioritise the What Does it Mean? and the What Do We Think? activities, as they offer the most direct way to prepare your students for the drama.

Preparing Your Students

Evaluations of previous Theatre of Debate projects have highlighted the importance of preparing the students, to ensure they gain maximum benefit.

The aim of this page is to provide you with activities to ensure that your students can make the most of the learning opportunities offered.

Curriculum Links

Preparatory Activity 1: What does it mean?


A brainstorming exercise to ensure that your students are familiar with the key terms and phrases referred to in the play.


Explain that you are going to say a word or phrase and that when you call out their name, you want each of your students to say the first word that comes into their head.

Explain that if they can’t think of a word or if their mind goes blank, they can say ‘Pass’.

After each round clarify the actual meaning of the word or phrase if appropriate and discuss, as a class, some of the associations that have been shared.

Words and Phrases

Medical researchAnimal rightsTestingLeukemia
ProtesterViable alternativeTreatmentsClinical Trials

Preparatory Activity 2: What Do We Feel?


To explore the emotions associated with some of the key phrases associated with the use of animals in medical research.


Using the list of words below, repeat the above activity asking your students to think of an emotion rather than an adjective that they associate with the word or phrase.

After you have completed the activity, ask your students if they want to comment on the groups responses.

Words and Phrases

IntimidationAnimal ResearchLife saving treatments
ViolenceMedical ProgressExploitation

Preparatory Activity 3: What do we think?


To explore what your students know, think and feel about issues posed by advances in pharmacogenetics and the questions raised in DayGlo, before seeing the play and participating in the debate. You might want to repeat this activity as a follow up activity as well.


A large empty classroom or drama studio.


Ask your students to stand in the centre of the space.

Explain that there is an imaginary line running down the centre of the space, one end of the line represents ‘Agree’ and the opposite end of the line represents ‘Disagree’. The middle of the line is ‘Don’t Know’.

Explain that you are going to read out a series of statements. If they agree with the statement they should go and stand at the end of the line that is ‘Agree’. If they disagree they should go and stand at the end of the line that is ‘Disagree’. If they are not sure or don’t know what they think they should stay in the middle.

After they have taken up their positions, ask your students to explain why they have chosen their position.After hearing from several students give your group the opportunity of changing their position.

Repeat the process for each statement.


  • It is right to use animals to help find cures for diseases such as cancer that can lead to the death of human beings.
  • It is wrong to experiment on animals.
  • The life of an animal is as valuable as that of a human being.
  • It is right to use mice and rats in medical research but not cats, dogs or monkeys.
  • Animals should have the basic right not to be harmed or killed
  • I understand why some animals rights activists might, because of their beliefs, use violence and intimidation against companies and individuals.
  • The law ensures that animals used in medical research are looked after properly.
  • Humans should be used for medical research instead of animals.
  • There should be more research into the alternatives to the use of animals in medical research.
  • The government should ban all experiments on animals because animal-based research is unnecessary.
  • People should have the right to protest peacefully outside laboratories that use animals in medical research.
  • It would be wrong to stop using animals in medical research before viable non-animal alternatives are found.

Preparatory Activity 4: I’d Like To Ask


To prime students for the questions that they will have the opportunity to ask in the debate.


In pairs, come up with two questions you could ask people who have strong opinions on the use of animals in medical research. Make a note of the questions and then share them with the class. They could also take them with them into the workshop.

  • First question should be one that you would like to ask a scientist who thinks that experimenting on animals is definitely right.
  • Second question should be one that you would like to ask an animal rights campaigner that believes the use of animals in medical research is definitely wrong.

Lesson 1: Initial Responses


The following are suggestions for how you might pick up on the ideas and issues raised by the play and discuss the students’ initial responses. You can select to do one or more from the range below. They can be used as stand alone exercises or as preparation for one of the other lessons. They use a range of strategies and could be used in a variety of different lessons: i.e. PSHE/ Science/ English/ Drama/ Form Tutor Period etc

Preparatory Lessons

If you used the Preparatory Lessons What Do We Feel? and What Do We Think? it may be interesting to return to the activities to see how the students’ ideas have changed since seeing EVERY BREATH. (See Preparatory Lessons, What Do We Feel? and What Do We Think?)

A Discussion Exercise

Divide the students in pairs or small groups. Ask them to discuss and write down their answers to the following questions:

  • What did you like/dislike about the play?
  • Why do you think the play is called EVERY BREATH? Do you think it’s a good title?
  • What surprised you in the play? What new things did you learn?
  • Did anything make you laugh? Was this appropriate in relation to the subject?
  • What didn’t you understand? What do you need further clarification on?
  • What questions has the play made you ask?

After allowing 10 minutes to discuss their answers ask each group to share their answers and discuss them as a whole group.

Still Image Exercise – Memorable moment

Divide the class into groups of 4.

Ask the group to share with each other the moment of the play that sticks most strongly in their mind.

Each group must agree on one of these moments and create a still image of that moment. (Not all the group members have to be in the image.)

Share the images with the class.

Try and identify each one and discuss the different choices. Is their consensus about the most memorable moment? What made it memorable?

Still Image Exercise – Capturing the essence

Divide the class into groups of 4.

Ask them to create a still image that captures the “essence” of the play. (This demands they have a good discussion between them about what they think the play was about.)

Share and discuss the different ideas? Are any more accurate or do they just represent different views about what is important?

Practical Exercise – Telling the Story

Divide the class into groups of 4.

Ask them to tell the story as succinctly and accurately as possible in one of the following ways:

  • Freeze Frames (max 5)
  • Sentences (max 8)
  • Improvisation (max 1 min)

Share and discuss the differences between the versions.

Lesson 2: Science – Regulating Research


To understand how research using animals is regulated in the UK by simulating a research licence application procedure



  • To gain an understanding of UK regulations governing research using animals
  • To weigh up the necessity of using animals for a specific piece of research
  • To explore the possibility of using non-animal research methods


  1. Divide the class into groups of 3-6 and give them the following brief:The optic nerve connects the eye to the brain, carrying the electrical impulses which enable us to see. You are a team of research scientists trying to discover whether it’s possible to reconnect a severed optic nerve. Finding this out could have many uses: reversing accidental damage to this nerve, which can cause blindness, giving clues as reversing other types of blindness and possibly even treating people with spinal cord injuries. The research would involve rats.

    In order to be allowed to do your research you have to apply for a licence.

  2. Distribute information from the research page, and ask students to read.
  3. Give the students the following information:

    Each member of your team has a Personal Licence and the place where you are carrying out your research has a Research Facility Licence. You now need to put together your case to apply for your Project Licence.

  4. Ask students to discuss the following in their groups:
    • Is your research important enough to justify the use of animals? (i.e. Do the likely benefits of the research outweigh the costs to animals?)
    • Can you think of ways of carrying out your research without using animals?
    • Will your work “translate” from rats into man?


In order to apply for your Project Licence you need to be able to demonstrate how your research implements the 3Rs. Read INFORMATION SHEET 3: The 3Rs and in your group discuss and note down your answers to the following questions:

REDUCTION – How do you intend to keep the number of animals used to a minimum?

REFINEMENT – How will you ensure your experiment is carried out in such a way to ensure animal suffering is minimised?

REPLACEMENT – Could you use non-animal methods?

Possible Extension Exercise

If appropriate this work could be developed into a written exercise titled Application to the Home Secretary for a Research Project Licence, with answers written under the following headings:

  • What is the research you want to do?
  • Justify why it is necessary to use animals.
  • Explain how you are going to keep the number of animals used to a minimum.
  • Explain how you are going to keep suffering to a minimum.
  • Explain why you can’t use non-animal methods.

Lesson 3: Drama – What do the Characters learn


To explore how the characters learn and change over the course of the play


  • To understand the inter-connection between relationships and views
  • To understand that that personal views may change in relation to other people and events
  • To demonstrate how the characters relationships and views change over the course of the play


  1. Divide the class into groups of 4. Ask them to tell the story of EVERY BREATH as succinctly and accurately as possible in one of the following ways: (you may like to refer to the play synopsis in Preparatory Lessons to help you.)
    • Freeze Frames (max 7)
    • Freeze Frames with captions (max 5)
    • Speed improvisation (max time 1 min)

    Share and discuss the differences between the versions.

  2. Ask the students to create a series of 4 freeze-frames of the relationships between the 4 characters at the following moments of the play. The aim is to capture how the relationships change:
    • At the start of the play i.e. before Anita comes home from University
    • Mid-way through the meal scene before Sonny has his Asthma attack
    • After Anita’s visit to the hospital
    • The end of the play

    (It may also be interesting to include one of the family before the start of the play when the Dad was still alive. i.e. to introduce the idea of how his death has affected the views and relationships of individuals within the family. The person previously playing Raz could play Dad.)

Extension Exercise

You could ask the groups to “morph” their freeze-frames into each other i.e. show the transition from one freeze-frame to the next as a slow merging process. Can they do this in such a way as to teach us something further about the changing relation- ships?

Watch the groups and use this as a springboard to discuss how the characters change over the course of the play. Why? What do they each learn?

If you intend to continue to the next exercise it may be useful to note down the ideas that are suggested for Anita and Sonny.

Extension Exercise

Divide the class into pairs. Each pair can choose whether they want to work on the character of Sonny or Anita.

In their pairs they must work on the following role-plays/missing scenes from the story. The focus is to demonstrate how the characters change over the play thus one scene is near the start and one towards the end of the play:

Allow 10-15 minutes for the pairs to work on their scenes.

Then watch some and comment on anything new you have discovered about what the characters learnt. What have you learnt from doing this exercise?


Sonny and Kelsey (his girlfriend)/or a friend

When: After Scene 3 – Saturday morning, his conversation with Anita over breakfast

Things to include:
Sonny’s attitude towards Anita
Sonny’s attitude to taking his Asthma medication

Sonny and Kelsey

When: At the end of the play

Things to include:
Sonny’s attitude towards Anita
Sonny’s attitude to taking his Asthma medication


Anita and her boyfriend/a friend

When: After Scene 3 – Saturday morning, her conversation with Sonny over breakfast

Things to include:
Anita’s attitude to Sonny’s new job on the pussy cat and his decision to stop taking his Asthma medication

Anita and her boyfriend/a friend

When: At the end of the play

Things to include:
Anita’s attitude towards Sonny (the seriousness with which he holds his view) and her own attitude towards her research

Lesson 4: Drama – Sony’s Dilemmas


To consider the factors that influence Sonny’s decision to stop taking and then re-take his Asthma medication


  • To understand the ethical and scientific arguments involved in Sonny’s decision
  • To understand the influence of relationships and emotional factors in Sonny’s decision
  • To vocalise those factors through role-play and improvisation


Sometime before the start of the play, Sonny has faced a big decision: Should he or should he not take Asthma medication which has been tested on animals?

He has decided to stop using his inhaler and taking his steroids risking both deterioration in his general condition and increasing the danger an Asthma attack may cause him (as we see in the play.)


What are his reasons for making this decision? (How do you think his relationships have influenced his decision? (i.e. Kelsey, Anita, his Dad, his Mum, some- one at Animal Kind.)Divide the class into pairs and ask each pair to choose one of the above characters who they think has influenced Sonny’s decision. Ask them to create a scene which demonstrates this.

Show and discuss which influences are the most significant.

Although he doesn’t admit it at the time, Sonny’s decision at the end of the play to take the medication again indicates he was re-assessing the situation in hospital. What factors do think influenced his change of mind? (Think about his conversations with his Mum, Anita and Raz and any other factors you think important.)

Conscience Alley

Ask a volunteer to represent Sonny. Ask the other students to form 2 lines facing each other with Sonny standing at one end. The students should be facing Sonny.

Tell the students they are going to be speaking the thoughts in Sonny’s head as he is deciding whether to re-take his medication.(It is almost a physical representation of his journey home from hospital.) He will probably have conflicting thoughts going though his mind. Ask each person in the line to think of a thought that might influence Sonny’s decision.

Ask Sonny to walk down the alley between the 2 lines of students. As he passes each student they should speak their line.

When Sonny has reached the end ask what he would do as a result of what he’s just heard. Discuss as a group what they think the most significant influences are.


Divide the class into pairs: Sonny and Kelsey
Scene: Sonny tells Kelsey about the decision he has made to re-take his Asthma drugs.

How does she react? How does he feel explaining it to her? (You may need to discuss what her attitude is like towards animal testing and whether he should take the drugs. You could try the scene in two ways:

  • She is strongly against Sonny backing down and thinks he should continue his protest. Perhaps she isn’t very understanding about what he’s been through. Can Sonny persuade her?
  • She is very supportive of Sonny’s decision but surprised by his change of mind. She wonders what’s changed?

Discuss what further you learn about Sonny’s decision.

Lesson 5: PHSE – Challenging Stereotypes


This lesson is primarily a PSHE lesson which uses drama techniques. However, it can be adapted to have a stronger Drama focus by making it a comparison between stereotypes and complex characters.

The aim is to explore and understand the differences between stereotypes and complex individuals.


  • To create dramatic representations of stereotypes and complex characters
  • To understand why stereotypes arise
  • To understand the limitations of stereotyping


Warm-up Game – Exploring social stereotypes

Pupils stand in a circle. Explain to them that in a moment they are going to face out- wards and you are going to say a word to which they will have 3 seconds to create a physical representation and then turn in to face the group.

Use words from the following list. After each, count aloud to 3 and ask the pupils to turn in making their physical representation. They can have a brief look at each other’s and then turn back out and wait for the next word.

Make the point that most of these images will have drawn upon stereotypes that we each hold about many people in society.

ActorTeenagerStudentMotherFootball Player
Rugby PlayerPoliticianCelebrityFather


Make the point that at the start of the play each of the characters hold stereotypical views of each other and individuals involved in the animal experimentation debate. Ask if anyone can remember what any of these views were.

Ask pupils to stand in a space. Read out the following quotes from the play and ask them to create a physical representation of the stereotype the words suggest.

Animal Rights Activists
LINA Some of these Animal Rights People are really violent.
ANITA Life can’t all be fluffy little bunnykins hopping through the fields you know!
ANITA If you like reading unproven propaganda he means.

SONNY Yeah. More boffins like yourself. What do you talk about? Scientific formulas
RAZ Meeting in secret to conduct dastardly experiments!
SONNY You just want to go on doing your “interesting work” like all the other Scientists. You don’t want to think about the animals because thinking about the animals means you’d have to stop.
SONNY You think science is all about being definite, all about being right.

ANITA Has he got a shaved head and love beads?

Discuss, how far these stereotypes are a fair representation of the characters in the play?


Write the name of each character on a board. As a whole class, brainstorm all the details you can remember about each character. Pay particular attention to things that challenge the stereotype or contradict other aspects of their character.

Divide the class into small groups 3-5. Allocate one of the four characters to each group (or you could just choose to focus on Sonny and Anita.)

Ask the group to create a multi-faceted image for their character i.e. a group image which reflects different aspects of the character, perhaps with each person representing a different facet.)

Each person should think of a line they can say which adds further detail to their character.

Show and discuss:

  • Why do we create stereotypes?
  • How truthful are they?
  • What is the impact of stereotyping?
  • Is stereotyping something to be avoided? How can we?

Lesson 6: RE – What do the major religions have to say?


To explore and understand what the major religions say about the relative values of animal and human life and the use of animals for medical research.


  • To learn about what the different religious viewpoints are.
  • To voice a particular religious viewpoint as if it is your own.
  • To understand how a religious viewpoint might influence someone making a decision about using medication tested on animals.
  • To understand the value of religious viewpoints in the wider debate about animals in medical research.

Discussion Starter

The character of Raz in EVERY BREATH is “thinking about becoming a Buddhist.”

How does this affect his view on animals?

What impact does this have on Sonny and his decision about whether or not to take his Asthma medication?


Divide the class into pairs. Distribute Religious View information from the research page and allocate to each pair one of the major religions to focus on.

Ask the pair to read the information for the religion they have been allocated and note down the major points about that religion’s view of:

  • the way animals should be treated
  • the value of animal life in relation to human life
  • experiments on animals

Role play

Ask the pairs to label themselves A and B and give them the following information:

  • A is a friend of Sonny’s who holds the religious faith/ or is in the process of considering the religious faith they have just been studying.
  • B is Sonny, in hospital considering whether or not he should take his Asthma medication.

A comes to visit Sonny in hospital. Sonny asks, “What’s your view about Animal Rights?

Ask them to role-play the scene. They should aim to make the scene:
a realistic portrayal of a conversation between two friends and informative to the rest of the class about the view of the religion they are representing.

They might like to discuss beforehand the kinds of things A might say. They should bear in mind that most of the religions do not have a clear-cut right or wrong view, so they should simply select some ideas from the information given.

After letting the scene run for 2-3 minutes, ask them to review how it went and re-run bearing in mind their two aims.

Ask representatives from each religion to present their scene to the rest of the class.

After each one discuss:

  • What were religious ideas presented?
  • What impact did the conversation have on Sonny?

Extension Activity

An Independent Ethics Committee advises the Government about whether or not certain experiments involving animals should be allowed.


  • Do you think representatives from the major religions should have a place on such a committee Why?/Why not?
  • What other voices should be represented?

As a class draw up a list of who you think should be represented on the Independent Ethics Committee.

You can either run this exercise as a whole class or in small groups of 5-6. Present them with the following scenario:

You are the independent Ethics Committee deciding if the research that Anita wants to do in the play, researching mice in the new lab, should be allowed (we are taking a step back in time here in the imaginary world of the play).

Anita’s research involves examining mice to discover more about how the genes in their hearts and livers work at different times of the day. As part of this work, the mice are killed, and their organs removed. This type of research is known as basic research and its purpose is to gain knowledge about how the body works. It is not directly linked to a particular illness, but its outcomes may lead to improvements in medicine or care further down the line.

Using the religious views considered earlier in the lesson, debate whether or not you think the research should go ahead.

If done in small groups, feedback the main points discussed in your debate to the rest of the class.

Lesson 7: English – Looking at Language


To explore how language is used in the animals in medical research debate to affect a particular response in the reader.


  • To identify examples emotive and objective language.
  • To understand the different impacts of emotive and objective language.
  • To write an article using either emotive or objective language.


In the play, Sonny and Anita argue over whether a procedure used on animals during research is “force” or “restraint”.

Read out extract below:

ANITA OK (Reading) “For Asthma research we use the mouse inhalation routes, which can be the whole body, or the nose only. Whole body is done in a special chamber. Nose only requires the animals to be restrained with plastic tubes.”

SONNY So. They basically force themselves to inhale Asthma drugs to see if it harms them?

ANITA To see what the effects are, not just if it harms them. And force isn’t the right word.

SONNY Excuse me, “restrained with plastic tubes”? They tie them down, they make them asthmatic so they can’t breathe, so they feel just like I did, like I had a slab of concrete on my chest, choking me to death. Then they make them inhale something that may not even make them better!

Discuss: Why are they both keen that their word is right?

There are many different organisations involved in the animals in medical research debate, each with a different viewpoint and each keen to convince the public to agree with their view.

Ask: Who do you think these groups are and what point of view would they have? (i.e. Animal Rights Groups – you might like to draw the distinction between extremists, activists and those who campaign for animal welfare, medical research organisations, drugs companies. Refer also to the Media and their interest in having an angle and story)

Read the articles on the resource page.

What words are used to describe:

  • Scientists
  • Animal Rights Campaigners
  • Animals
  • Experiments
  • The outcomes of experiments
  • The behaviour of Animal Rights Campaigners

Discuss the following questions:

  • What phrases have the biggest impact on you? Why?
  • What does the article focus on? What are its main themes?
  • Does it tend to use facts or opinions? Does it seem to appeal more to reason or emotion?
  • What impact does the article have on you?
  • Do you think this is the aim of the piece?
  • Does it present a balanced view?

Read the articles and discuss the same questions:

  • Is it possible to identify the source of each article from the list below at the bottom of the sheet?
  • Which articles do you trust the most? Why?

Use the information from all the articles and what you have learned from the play to write your own piece.

Decide if it is going to be:

  • emotive or objective
  • For or against or neutral
  • for a Tabloid or Broadsheet Newspaper or Campaign organisation

Give your article a headline, then write your article.