Adapted by Kelly Hunter
For young people with autism and their families
Fifteen children on the spectrum become the participants for each performance, sitting with six actors in a circle on the floor around a painted floor cloth, which represents Prospero’s island. The children’s families sit just behind them. The actors invite the children to join them on the island as the story unfolds through sensory games, which the children and actors play together. The show has been performed in English, Spanish and Catalan. The foundation of this unique production is the Hunter Heartbeat Method created by Artistic Director Kelly Hunter.
First performed in Stratford-upon-Avon and Columbus Ohio as a co-production between the Royal Shakespeare Company and Ohio State University, July 2014. Subsequent performances at Bloomsbury Festival October 2015, The Help Centre, Los Angeles May 2016, Clasiscos en Alcala June 2016, Festival of Love, Southbank Centre July 2016, Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond UK October 2016, Teatre Lliure, Barcelona March 2017.
Dear Kelly 26thJune 2014
Thank you for creating your magical isle, which produced transformative effects beyond what even Prospero would have imagined. Myself and my 14 year old son really enjoyed being able to share in the truly unique experience of your specially edited version of the Tempest.
As the wonderful and unique children that took part in this performance demonstrated, the autistic spectrum is very wide and every individual with a diagnosis of autism requires a bespoke and individual response.
My son has high functioning autism and this is for him very much an invisible disability. In many ways his autism is only a disability if it is adisability by which I mean if he finds the right job of work, the right, compassionate, understanding, group of people around him then there is nothing to stop him reaching his potential. So far my son has been blessed to have the support of a superb specialist education unit within a main stream school, specific health care, and occupational therapy not to mention understanding friends and family, all of which have allowed him to flourish. This support masks the true extent of the day to day challenges that he has in dealing with, what is to him, a very alien and confusing world. Your work with him to- day added to his development and understanding considerably.
I find the art of supporting my son is to creatively enter his world and through this act of empathy find the conditions by which we can learn to fit in with his world view rather than expecting him to understand ours. I remember reading the views of one autistic man who explains the situation this way; “everyone else is a boat but I am bike. In the world of boats everyone expects you to act as a boat and when the boat is broken they will suggest sensible ways to fix boats. They give these solutions to me but I am not a broken boat, I am a bike.”
I think you have very successfully tapped into the realisation that exceptional actors (such as the ones involved in today’s Company) have a skill which makes them particularly good at working with people with autism and that is the ability to fully imagine a world from an utterly different point of view – a heightened sense of empathy more highly tuned than the rest of us. The actors today, using their great imaginative and practical skills were able to haul their hulls out of the water in order to become bikes; the children in the show today instinctively understood this and were thus given the unprecedented opportunity to free wheel like the best multi geared trail bikes they are.
I was deeply touched and moved today. The insights from my son were stunning – he found a fluency of voice and movement during the performance I have rarely seen in him before. He made interesting observations – “today was the first time I forgot myself and was just there” – he had a totally intuitive sense of the characters and meanings of the Tempest. He was seriously impressed with the actors’ ability to change who they were. Today was a phenomenal success.
You are all involved in very important work which has the power to transform lives and unleash unrealised potential in the children you work with.
With much thanks and deepest gratitude
Joined by a group of children who played with us. La Kompanyia Lliure, March 2017
A unique theatrical experience ★★★★ The Guardian
Brilliantly Interactive ★★★★★ Coventry Telegraph
A joy to behold
The most unique Shakespeare production I’ve seen
Groundbreaking Shakespeare **** The Guardian
A sight I thought I’d never see
Cast and Creatives
Teatre LLiure March 26th 2017 Joan Armargos - Caliban Quim Avila - Ariel Claudia Benito - Miranda Raquel Ferri - Trinculo Eduardo Lloveras - Ferran Andrea Ros - Eres Joan Sole - Prospero Julia Truyol - Stefano Assistant Director - Adan Llorca
Orange Tree Theatre October 2016 Finlay Cormack - Ariel Tricia Gannon - Trinculo Lowri Izzard - Miranda Joshua Jackson - Caliban Chris Macdonald - Ferdinand/Stephano Sifiso Mazibuko - Prospero
Festival of Love, Southbank Centre 2016 Tas Emiabata - Caliban Tricia Gannon - Trinculo Chris Macdonald - Ferdinand/Stephano Sifiso Mazibuko - Prospero Eva Lily Tausig - Miranda Andrew Trimmer - Ariel
Clasicos en Alcala Spain 2016 Jimmy Castro - Prospero David Soto Giganto - Ferdinand/Trinculo Greg Hicks - Caliban David Matillo - Stephano Aleix Mele - Ariel Sara Sanchez - Miranda
Bloomsbury Festival 2015 Tricia Gannon - Trinculo Greg Hicks - Caliban Chris Macdonald - Ferdinand/Stephano Sifiso Mazibuko - Prospero Roslyn Paterson - Ariel Eva Lily Tausig - Miranda
Original cast, Stratford upon Avon 2014 Columbus Ohio. 2014 LA Help Centre 2016 Greg Hicks - Caliban Chris Macdonald - Ferdinand/Stephano Kevin McClatchy - Prospero Mahmoud Osman - Ariel Robin Post - Trinculo Eva Lily Tausig - Miranda
Company Stage Manager
Original Casting Director
Original Production Development