Hunter Heartbeat Workshops

(part of a series)

Location: Philbin Studio Theatre (View on map )

Proudly exploring new frontiers of inclusivity.

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Shakespeare at Notre Dame, in partnership with South Bend Civic Theatre and Flute Theatre, is proud to introduce an exciting series of workshops and performances specifically designed for children on the autism spectrum.

Inspired by the trailblazing work of theatrical artist Kelly Hunter, these extraordinary workshops incorporate a world premiere adaptation of As You Like It, with a special sensory-friendly performance of the play following in November.

Sponsor Sbct Square

Sponsor Flute Square




Spectrum-specific Shakespeare.

Join us for 5 workshops designed to accommodate the unique needs of children on the autism spectrum. Conceived and directed by Scott Jackson, Mary Irene Ryan Family Executive Director of Shakespeare at Notre Dame, these 60-minute performance workshops are based on the Hunter Heartbeat method, and feature a world-premiere adaptation of As You Like It designed expressly for this distinct audience. 

These exciting new workshops represent the first formal collaboration between Shakespeare at Notre Dame and the South Bend Civic Theatre. Essential partners include the Ryan Memorial Foundation, LOGAN Center, Hannah and Friends, and the Ansari Family.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018 @ 7:00pm
LOGAN Center (2505 E. Jefferson Blvd, South Bend, IN 46615)
Ages 16+ (Registration deadline 9/19)

Thursday, September 27, 2018 @ 7:30pm
LOGAN Center (2505 E. Jefferson Blvd, South Bend, IN 46615)
Ages 8-18 (Registration deadline 9/19)

Wednesday, October 3, 2018 @ 7:00 pm
Hannah & Friends (51250 Hollyhock Rd, South Bend, IN 46637)
Ages 16+ (Registration deadline 9/26)

Saturday, October 6, 2018 @ 4:00pm
SBCT Warner Studio (403 N Main St, South Bend, IN 46601)
Ages 8-18 (Registration deadline 9/26)

Wednesday, October 10, 2018 @ 7:00 pm
LOGAN Center (2505 E. Jefferson Blvd, South Bend, IN 46615)
Ages 8-18 (Registration deadline 10/3)

First seen here at Notre Dame this past January, Kelly Hunter's Hunter Heartbeat games are specifically designed for children on the autism spectrum. Ms. Hunter, author of Shakespeare’s Heartbeat: Drama Games for Children with Autism, is an internationally-reknowned theatre artist whose transformative work with children on the spectrum has produced astonishing results.

As she notes in the foreword to Shakespeare's Heartbeat, "Expressing feelings, making eye contact, keeping a steady heartbeat and recognizing faces are all part of the autism dilemma which can be explored through Shakespeare's plays, because of the wealth of his poetic definitions of seeing, thinking and loving."

During each performance-based workshop, we gather up to 10 participants into a circle, side-by-side with 10 actors. Each actor partners with a single participant through a series of games derived from specific moments in the play.

The exercises (or games) embedded in the performance are designed to bridge the gap between mind and body, to “encourage eye contact and facial expression, improve spatial awareness and language skills, and introduce [participants] to imaginative play.”

Click here for a photo gallery of the Hunter Heartbeat workshops held at Notre Dame in January 2018. 


Sponsor Ansari Square

Sponsor Hannah Friends Square

Sponsor Ryan Square








As You Like It: Sensory-Friendly Performance


Presented in partnership with South Bend Civic Theatre as a follow-up to the Hunter Heartbeat workshops, the upcoming special performance of As You Like It is designed specifically for children on the autism spectrum. Directed by Grace Lazarz, this special performance features: 

  • Lower sound levels, especially for startling or loud sounds
  • Lights on at a low level in the theater during the performance
  • The expectation that patrons will talk and leave their seats during the performance
  • Zones throughout the performance space for standing and movement
  • Props and set elements designed to be touched before and during the performance
  • Designated quiet area connected to the performance space
  • Concessions options limited to avoid strong smells (i.e. popcorn, coffee)
  • Staff trained to be inviting and accommodating to families' needs

This FREE performance will feature many of the actors from the Hunter Heartbeat workshops, and allows patrons to enjoy a 90-minute version of As You Like It in an environment designed to accommodate special needs. 

Thursday, November 8, 2018 @ 7:00 PM
Warner Theatre at the South Bend Civic Theatre 
403 N. Main Street, South Bend

For tickets, please contact the South Bend Civic Theatre box office at (574) 234-1112 or email Tickets are very limited and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.