Category Archive: Acting Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Sonnets iPad App came out a couple of weeks ago, to great acclaim:
Ben Crystal’s reading of Sonnet 141 in Original Pronunciation is a treat – theverge.com
Ben Crystal’s reading of Sonnet 141, delivered in Original Pronunciation, is a salutary reminder of the warmth and unpretentiousness of our national poet – Poor Rude Lines
A digital delight – Ben Crystal gives his approximation of Shakespeare’s own pronunciation, rugged and lilting at once – The Independent
An extraordindary achievement – The Times
A wonderful app that will provide hours of enjoyment -
Faber’s app commissioner now wields as much power as the person who decides where to open a new Waitrose -
Just a wonderful iPad App… An absolute star for classrooms – iPadinsight.com
The App is produced by Illuminations Media, Faber and Faber, Arden Shakespeare and Touch Press, and features Sir Patrick Stewart, David Tennant, Fiona Shaw, Kim Cattrell, Dominic West, scholars James Shapiro and Katherine Duncan-Jones, and the poet Don Paterson, amongst many others.
I act Sonnet 141 – In faith, I do not love thee with mine eyes in Original Pronunciation – take a look at the video here:
First, a very happy 448th birthday to Will… Your work never ceases to amaze. Well done. Take the rest of the day off.
Now! This coming Star Wars Day, I’ll be giving a talk at the British Library based on the CD of Shakespeare sonnets, speeches and scenes I curated for the BL.
Together with a fab line-up of actors, we’ll intercut the blah-blah-blah by performing speeches & scenes from Shakespeare in Original Pronunciation. Some will be from the CD, some won’t have been heard in OP for over 400 years… Come one, come all…!
How did Shakespeare sound to the audiences of the day?
Ben Crystal, together with actors from the company formed for the new British Library Shakespeare’s Original Pronunciation CD, offer us a rare chance to hear new meanings uncovered, new jokes revealed and poetic effects enhanced.
The Telegraph ran a feature on it with some extracts to listen to, as did the New Statesman, and Mark Lawson interviewed me on BBC Radio 4′s Frontrow last night (available to download as a podcast, dated 14th March 2012).
Photos of the Contemporary World Premiere of Hamlet in the Original Pronunciation can now be seen here:
Apologies for the lack of posting to this site in recent months…
Nor that I curated a 70 minute CD of well-known – and not so well-known sonnets, speeches and scenes of Shakespeare for the British Library, the first of its kind spoken by professional actors, and out March 2012.
I’m about to adapt Venus and Adonis for Roughhouse Theatre & Bath Theatre Royal… and very excitingly, will be beginning work on a new series of books I’ve been commissioned to write for Arden Shakespeare…
Nor indeed, will you know that I am about to leave for Nevada, USA, to start rehearsals to play Hamlet…
It’s going to be an Original Pronunciation production, the first for 400 years, and will open November 1st.
I’ll be keeping an account and diary of the whole process – the first of which will be up very soon – and found via my Twitter feed…
Passion in Practice is a collaboration between actor Ben Crystal and director Dan Winder exploring fresh approaches to acting Shakespeare.
The starting point for all our work is the words of the writer. Using a solid textual foundation, we play Shakespeare as simply as possible, without any great conceptual frame placed between participants, audience and the play.
By allowing Shakespeare and his words to direct us we discover new ways of approaching Shakespeare for the 21st Century with honesty and great passion.
The next Passion in Practice workshop will be May 16th-20th 2011 in London.
Please head to www.passioninpractice.com for more details.
I was asked to record the opening speech of Richard 3 for the British Library’s Evolving English Exhibition. Knowing the listener would be using headphones while reading the original Quarto edition, I found myself whispering the speech into the microphone. Have a listen and get inside Richard’s head… The Folio text is below.
Enter Richard Duke of Gloster, solus.
Now is the Winter of our Discontent,
Made glorious Summer by this Son of Yorke:
And all the clouds that lowr’d vpon our house
In the deepe bosome of the Ocean buried.
Now are our browes bound with Victorious Wreathes,
Our bruised armes hung vp for Monuments;
Our sterne Alarums chang’d to merry Meetings;
Our dreadfull Marches, to delightfull Measures.
Grim-visag’d Warre, hath smooth’d his wrinkled Front:
And now, in stead of mounting Barbed Steeds,
To fright the Soules of fearfull Aduersaries,
He capers nimbly in a Ladies Chamber,
To the lasciuious pleasing of a Lute.*
But I, that am not shap’d for sportiue trickes,
Nor made to court an amorous Looking-glasse:
I, that am Rudely stampt, and want loues Maiesty,
To strut before a wonton ambling Nymph:
I, that am curtail’d of this faire Proportion,
Cheated of Feature by dissembling Nature,**
Deform’d, vn-finish’d, sent before my time
Into this breathing World, scarse halfe made vp,
And that so lamely and vnfashionable,
That dogges barke at me, as I halt by them.
Why I (in this weake piping time of Peace)
Haue no delight to passe away the time,
Vnlesse to see my Shadow in the Sunne,
And descant on mine owne Deformity.
*In the Quarto text the word is Love, not Lute
**I think my favourite bit is the way the rhythm begins to canter here…
In November 2010, I ran a Process week on Shakespeare at the Three Mills Studios with the director Dan Winder, and formed a Company of actors for six days.
Laura Wickham, Natalie Thomas, Diana Kashlan, Jamie Harding, Jaskiranjit Deol, William Sutton, Warren Rusher, David Baynes, Dan Winder and myself (joined on the last day by Ben O’Mahoney) worked towards a fresh approach to acting Shakespeare.
On the last couple of days we worked closely with the First Folio, exploring as a Company how far we could follow the text as it was printed – irrespective of compositors’ mistakes – to see what directions and new ideas we could find.
In short: if we ignore all the emendations that have been made over the centuries by non-theatre practitioners – if the Folio text is entirely as the author intended it to be, and was written to be understood by actors – how do we make it work, as it is? Can we make it work…?
Some images from that day…
All photos are copyright of Scott Wishart…