Engaging students on the autism spectrum
Shakespeare’s Heartbeat uses the Hunter Heartbeat Method developed by Kelly Hunter of Flute Theatre, utilizing the iambic pentameter (heartbeat rhythm) of Shakespeare’s words and the physicality of his characters to engage with students on the autism spectrum. Geared towards grades 4-12, this program’s interactive games and gestures are paired with short phrases from Shakespeare’s works to improve social skills and help with identifying and expressing emotions.
San Francisco Shakespeare Festival is thrilled to partner with Francisco Middle School and Everett Middle School of SFUSD, the College of Adaptive Arts at West Valley College in Saratoga, and Joseph Schmitz of Eureka Street Learning to present Shakespeare’s Heartbeat.
This residency is a semester-long venture. Pricing varies based on number of sessions, number of students/classes, number of teaching artists needed, required materials, and transportation. When in-person isn’t possible, sessions can take place virtually.
SF Shakes teaching artist and autism theatre specialist Joseph Schmitz brought the program to SF Shakes and continues help the heartbeat program flourish. In addition to being the founder of Eureka Street Learning, he works in technology, education, and theatre. When not making video, writing, or acting, he has the pleasure of teaching improv and video-making. He is a co-founder of Special Focus, a performing arts program for special education students in Northern California.
Education Workgroup member and teaching artist Evan Held is taking lead on SF Shakes’ side of the program. In addition to managing and administrating, Evan teaches the program with a very hands-on approach. This program is very personal to him, and he believes that by helping the students you also help everyone around them in their lives. “The parents, siblings, and teachers all feel the ripple of the impact of this program”