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To weep or not to weep? Scientists monitor Shakespeare responses

A special event at the V&A museum will see volunteers from the audience being hooked up to bio-sensors

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Dr Alexis Kirke will lead the experiment

Scientists will monitor emotional responses to Shakespeare scenes during a special event at the V&A museum on Friday.

The one-off event - titled Conducting Shakespeare - will see actors Melanie Heslop and James Mack perform some of the playwright's most emotional scenes, with the order being decided based on audience reactions.

According to publicity material, four volunteers will be hooked up to bio-sensors monitoring brainwaves, heart-rate, perspiration and muscle tension.

Research scientist Dr Alexis Kirke will then decide which scene should come next to control the emotional arc of the performance.

"Shakespeare always attempted to be in control of his audience's emotions, manipulating both their mental and physical responses to his works," says Kirke, who is based at Plymouth University.

"In essence, this is a natural extension of that but turns the tables somewhat in that the audience - consciously or subconsciously - will be the ones influencing the performance."

Conducting Shakespeare, which takes place at the V&A on Friday (2 May 2014), runs as part of the ongoing celebrations of the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth.

"His writing has a depth and profundity which stirs a range of feelings," added Kirke, "but it will be fascinating to see how they can be used to create a new version of his works."

For more info and tickets to Conducting Shakespeare, click here