The importance of the arts is often forgotten about in today's society. A large part of the arts that needs to be respected is theatre. This is not only because theatrical productions tell important stories that need to be told. Another aspect of theatre that has not really been talked about is its therapeutic aspects.
The Hunter Heartbeat Method was created by Kelly Hunter of the Royal Shakespeare Company. It is based on Shakespeare text and is used to help children with autism. It connects the sound of the heartbeat and the rhythm of iambic pentameter. The games that have been created are based were utilized in a pilot study based on The Tempest by Willliam Shakespeare.
It is introduced through the basic plot while guiding children to focus on the themes of the eyes, mind, and heart. The games used are meant to help develop the skills of eye contact, taking turns, recognizing facial emotions, producing facial emotions, imitating, improvisation, play, humor, and communicating in a playful manner. The games are taught to children while they are in a large group circle. They are taught through imitation and observation instead of just giving instruction. They then get the opportunity to play the games one on one with an actor, and they also get the chance to show their performance of the game to the other children in the middle of the circle. Children receive individual interaction and feedback as they work through the games so they grow and develop core socials skills and communication.
Kelly Hunter has stated, "Those with autism struggle with making themselves understood, their struggle is communicative and sensory – an almost superhuman effort is required to connect their eyes and mind in order to express their reason and love. Through focusing on moments in Shakespeare where characters emerge through seeing, thinking and feeling, my games offer children and young people on the spectrum an opportunity to express themselves, exploring eye contact, language skills, spatial awareness, facial expressions and imaginative play. The children play the games with actors in a safe loving space where everyone involved can begin to share a common human experience."
This method connects people through theatre and it helps children with autism to better understand the world around them and to get those around them to better understand them. It is amazing how Shakespeare is still relevant and helpful in today's society. The Hunter Heartbeat Method is creating a deeper appreciation for theatre and truly helping those with autism. The arts deserve to be seen as important and continually funded.