Passion in Practice

    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 worked towards a fresh approach to acting Shakespeare.

    Using a combination of solid Folio-based text-work, and physical exercises I’ve adapted from Complicité and the Shakespeare voice coach Cicely Berry, we played and explored for a week…

    A documentary team filmed the process, and that footage will be up on this page soon.

    In the meantime, some images of the week.

    All photos are copyright of Scott Wishart

    Watch Toast

    From the series of talks I gave Macmillan Poland in May 2010…

    Discussing the difference between performing Shakespeare in RP vs OP (Shakespeare’s accent); then performing Sonnet 116 in RP, and OP; and then reading from the opening chapter of Toast, Schwarzengger’s Hamlet

    Edgar, King Lear, Austria!

    To Austria, to play Edgar in King Lear in a castle for a couple of weeks…!

    I’ll post updates and photos from rehearsals and the show on my Twitter account…

    FREE TALK, Monday 5th July, 6.30pm

    In support of Chalk Farm Library, I’m giving a free talk on the 5th July in the heart of Primrose Hill:

    His talks are less of a talk and more of a performance – Ben makes sense of Shakespeare by putting him back into context. It includes an exploration of Elizabethan theatre and what a trip to a Shakespeare play in 1600 would be like, a master-class on the poetry style Shakespeare wrote in, and a look at Original Pronunciation (the accent Shakespeare would have spoken in). It’s relevant for all ages – younger people experiencing the Bard for the first time through to older audience members who love Shakespeare and want to learn something new.

    Monday 5th July, 6.30pm
    Chalk Farm Library
    Sharpleshall Street
    NW1 8YN

    More information can be found here…

    The Theatre, Shoreditch

    A very special day yesterday:

    After giving a talk and two workshops to the Year 10 students at Oundle School, I came back to London and headed to Shoreditch.

    A team from the Museum of London has found the remains of The Theatre, the playhouse built by James Burbage, and dismantled by his actor-son Richard, Will Shakespeare & their Company, one night in 1599. The materials were used to build the Globe playhouse across the river.

    The Tower Theatre Company have begun a fund-raising project to build a new theatre around the site, and protect the remains. They asked me to come and speak a sonnet there yesterday.

    I performed Sonnet 116 in OP on the Groundlings Gravel – one of very few actors to have spoken Shakespeare – and the first time that accent has been heard there – in 400 years.

    A breathtaking moment. I’m a very lucky fellow.

    Please head to the The Theatre’s website, and support the project.

    The Theatre, Shoreditch

    The Theatre, Shoreditch

    Read/Listen to Toast

    About the Book

    The video below was made for the Meet The Author website. In it, Ben talks about exactly why Shakespeare on Toast is so different from all the other books on Shakespeare out there…


    To whet the buds of those of you out there wanting to know a little more of what Shakespeare on Toast is like, here’s a slice to get your teeth into…

    Click on the book to read the excerpt…


    Last year I was invited to speak on a panel on Speaking Shakespeare at the British Shakespeare Association. They asked me to talk about Original Pronunciation – the accent Shakespeare and his band of brothers would have been using some 400 odd years ago.

    So please click the link below to hear an excerpt from a Podcast interview that took place after the panel session…

    Speaking Shakespeare Podcast


    Interview for BBC Radio Wales with Phil Rickman, recorded the week before at the Hay on Wye Winter Weekend and broadcast 7th December, 2008 —Shakespeare on Toast “breaks new ground” says Phil, while I explain just why Shakespeare’s poetry is so interesting and so misunderstood…

    Click here to listen to the interview

    Worked up an appetite? Fancy a little more? Buy the book from Amazon or The Book Depository

    JFS School

    Lovely day at JFS’ Reading Festival on Tuesday, speaking to their Year 10s.

    Back there today, to speak to their Year 12 & 13s.

    If you’d like me to come to speak at your school, do get in touch…

    Guildford, Thurs 17th June, 7pm: Shakespeare – Love, Sex & Comedy

    Tickets are selling fast for my talk this Thursday evening at Guildford’s Electric Theatre:

    Diving through Shakespeare’s writings of love, sex and comedy, Ben Crystal (‘the Jamie Oliver of Shakespeare’ BBC Radio 5), rediscovers the Bard as master dramatist: a true man of the theatre, who had a terrific sense of what makes a captivating play.

    The theatres Shakespeare wrote for were two-way, dynamic – a shared experience with the audience, an afternoon’s journey of love, betrayal, death, lust, comedy and, sometimes, the odd song.
    The author of Shakespeare on Toast tackles Shakespeare’s attitude to love, sex and comedy, and finds a lot more tragedy than comedy, more betrayal than love, and more mystery than sex..

    Come one, come all! Booking and further details can be found here…

    Video clips from the Poland Talks…

    From the series of talks I gave last week for Macmillan Poland

    Discussing the difference between performing Shakespeare in RP vs OP (Shakespeare’s accent); then performing Sonnet 116 in RP, and OP; and then reading from the opening chapter of Toast, Schwarzengger’s Hamlet

    OP at Shakespeare’s Globe for OU

    Spent a fine morning being filmed running around the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre with Dad: he explaining the origins of the Original Pronunciation experiments, me acting some examples.

    Performed excerpts from Henry V, Romeo & Juliet, As You Like It, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and all of Sonnet 116 – which sounds SO different in Shakespeare’s accent – then were interviewed about our work together.

    All for an Open University film. Lovely to work with Dad again. Lovely to be back in that terrific space.

    Now to Poland to give a series of Shakespeare talks, Ash Cloud permitting… (has it really been capitalised?)