Shakespeare and Autism

The Shakespeare and Autism Project at the Ohio State University represents an innovative intersection of the arts and sciences. Using the Hunter Heartbeat Method — an active ensemble approach employing Shakespeare's work — teaching artists play games with children in service of piercing the communicative challenges of autism. Using The Tempest as the main text, the games take advantage of the rhythm and power of Shakespeare's language, his vivid investigation of what it means to be fully alive and the access his work gives to the heart of imagination to engage the children. Spatial awareness, social use of language and facial recognition are just some of the areas targeted in the work. The Shakespeare and Autism Project's initial two-year longitudinal study revealed statistically significant benefits in several areas for the participating children. The Hunter Heartbeat Method, developed by actress/director Kelly Hunter, forms the basis of the work, which is ongoing and culminates in periodic performances of The Tempest — an adaptation that employs six professional actors and a group of children with autism. The Shakespeare and Autism Workshop is a brief overview of the trajectory of the Shakespeare and Autism Project at The Ohio State University and an introduction to the Hunter Heartbeat Method. Participants will first explore the Heartbeat Hellos, the foundation of the Hunter Heartbeat Method and will then learn 3-4 of the drama games.

Autism, Shakespeare, Outreach

2019 Special Focus: "Learning to Make a Social Difference"

Workshop Presentation

  • Mr. Kevin McClatchy
    • I have recently been promoted to Associate Professor at the Ohio State University, where I am Head of Acting and Directing in the Department of Theatre. For the past three years, I have also been the Director of the OSU Shakespeare and Autism Project. I have been involved in the Shakespeare and Autism Project as a teaching artist since 2012 and performed the role of Prospero in an adaptation of The Tempest at the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2014. I have been a working actor since 1993 working in film, television and theatre. In addition to Shakespeare and Autism, I am interested in outreach work using Shakespeare with military veterans; the use of certain movement methodologies in acting for the camera; the creation of new works; and Irish theatre history and performance.