Ground-breaking RSC Tempest to play to children with autism

Tempest image with title

Royal Shakespeare Company actor and director Kelly Hunter has come up with a very special production of The Tempest for an audience of children with autism.

RSC leading man Greg Hicks will lead a cast of six top actors to take the children on a journey of clowns, spirits, monsters and wizards on an island where nobody feels ordinary.

Kelly edits and directs The Tempest using sensory drama games that she has created over the last ten years to help combat the challenges of autism.

The show is a co-production between the RSC and The Ohio State University (Ohio State).

Performed by six actors, three from Ohio State and three from the UK, The Tempest will première in Stratford-upon-Avon this summer as part of the RSC’s summer season 2014.

It will run for 13 performances from June 24 – July 4 at The Other Place at the Courtyard Theatre as part of the Midsummer Mischief Festival.

Later it in the month it will be performed in Ohio.

The cast comprises Greg Hicks, Chris MacDonald and Eva Lily Tausig from the UK and Kevin McClatchy, Robin Post and Mahmoud Osman from Ohio State.

The production involves the actors and children engaging in a number of games that form The Hunter Heartbeat Method.

The method has been developed by Kelly and is the basis of a Shakespeare and Autism research project that has led to a ground-breaking partnership between the university and the theatre company.

Said Kelly: “The seventy-five minute production is played in the round with a maximum of fifteen children per performance.

“Within this intimate setting the actors will invite the children to join them playing sensory games to bring the story to life.

“The games use the fundamental themes of Shakespeare: the heartbeat rhythm of his language, seeing with the mind’s eye and an exploration of the senses to combat the communicative blocks of autism.

“The games are sensory, physical and fun to play, created to heighten the child’s awareness of the world around them and provide an opportunity for them to experience and explore their own physicality, feelings and voice.

“Making eye contact, improving spatial awareness, developing facial expressiveness and building language skills are key targets within the games as well as introducing imaginative play and the concept of ‘playing a part’.

“Shakespeare is used to wake the children up to their own lives and any child, no matter where they are on the spectrum, can play”.

A maximum of thirty carers, teachers, parents and others can also watch the show.

The theatre will be adapted to create a relaxed and peaceful atmosphere and participants will be free to take time out of the auditorium at any time.

For tickets contact the RSC Ticket Hotline on 0844 800 1110.

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