Alack! Making Shakespearean Literature Understandable For All

Theatre student making an open resource book to make Shakespeare more relatable

“Out, out brief candle! / Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player, / That struts and frets his hour upon the stage.” – Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act 5 Scene 5, Lines 23-25.

Some people delight in reading Shakespeare. But some people may find it difficult, confusing or incomprehensible. Xavier Heipp, senior theatre studies major with a double minor in pre-law and philosophy, has been working to create an open resource book to make Shakespeare’s writing more readable and relatable.

Zavier HeippHeipp, from Avon, Ohio, has recently been featured on The Research Review podcast and in two articles posted by the Office of Student Research for his work in trying to make Shakespeare more understandable. 

“Because Shakespeare is not always well taught in schools, we decided to make an open resource book to make it easier to teach Shakespeare in schools,” Heipp said. “It’s really an open resource book for whoever needs or wants it.”

Heipp has been an active member of multiple student organizations in the School of Theatre and Dance, including All Inclusive and Bachelor of Arts Theatre Student Alliance, and he serves as president of Transforum Theatre.

Most recently, Heipp received the School of Theatre and Dance’s Best Dramaturg Award for his involvement in Kent State’s production of “Much Ado About Nothing.” A dramaturg is somebody who does extra research to provide additional context that can help students or audience members to understand more about the characters and the setting of a play. 

Last summer, Heipp participated in the summer undergraduate research experience (SURE) program and won first place. The SURE program funds promising undergraduate researchers for eight weeks over the summer to engage in faculty-supervised research.

“I'm so glad I got this opportunity. If anyone has any inkling of wanting to do their own research or to maybe explore some kind of topic that they're interested in, it is absolutely worth it.” Heipp said. “There is no limit to research. I'm a theatre major and I'm writing a book about the theatre. Research isn't limited to one area– it can be done by anybody for anything.”

During the SURE program, Heipp began researching and authoring a book, “Conjuring Shakespeare's Kings, Witches, and Fools,” under the mentorship of Yuko Kurahashi, Ph.D. The book is to be published later this year. 

“I was someone very clearly passionate about Shakespeare,” Heipp said. “Shakespeare is about the humanity of things like love and greed, courage and fear, happiness and sadness. Anyone can do anything with Shakespeare because Shakespeare embodies the core humanities that we all have.”

To listen to the Research Review Podcast, please visit

To read Heipp’s interview with the Office of Student Research, please visit

The Office of Student Research also reported on Heipp and Kurahashi here,

POSTED: Wednesday, March 1, 2023 10:30 AM
Updated: Wednesday, March 1, 2023 11:00 AM
Jordan Bryski, Flash Communications