Category Archive: Audio/Video

    “One of the most-shared, most popular performances” – Shakespeare Sonnets

    Very nice to hear, from Henry Volans at Faber & Faber:

    Ben Crystal’s reading of Sonnet 141 in Original Pronunciation is one of the most-shared, most popular performances in the app…

    More on’s interview with the creators of the Shakespeare Sonnets iPad App here

    Shakespeare Sonnets – DVD

    The DVD of the Shakespeare Sonnets App arrived today.

    As close to the App as possible, it’s been lushly produced, and so for those of you who are iPad-less but want to explore the Sonnets in performance, in Quarto, and from a number of critical, theatrical, and academic points of view, you can snag the DVD here:

    Shakespeare Sonnets on DVD from Amazon

    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.

    Shakespeare Sonnets iPad App – “Wonderful… Extraordinary… A treat!”

    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 –

    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 –
    The Telegraph

    Faber’s app commissioner now wields as much power as the person who decides where to open a new Waitrose –
    The Guardian

    Just a wonderful iPad App… An absolute star for classrooms –

    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:

    And you can download the App now from iTunes UK or iTunes US

    Shakespeare’s Original Pronunciation – Live! – The British Library – May 4th, 6.30pm

    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…!

    For details of the event, and to purchase tickets, click here

    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.


    ‘Shakespeare’s Original Pronunciation’ is currently available on CD & to Download here.

    You can have a sneak preview to Sonnet 116, Macbeth, Romeo & Juliet here


    Shakespeare’s Sonnets – iPad App – from Iluminations Media

    Last month I recorded Sonnet 141 for an amazing forthcoming iPad App featuring Sir Patrick Stewart, David Tennant and Fiona Shaw.

    Produced by Illuminations Media, Faber and Faber, Arden Shakespeare and Touch Press:

    Faber and Faber, Touch Press, Illuminations and The Arden Shakespeare are delighted to announce that they are in the final stages of producing a spectacular edition of Shakespeare’s Sonnets for the Apple iPad. The title features specially filmed performances of all 154 sonnets by a stellar cast that includes Fiona Shaw, Sir Patrick Stewart and David Tennant. It also features the complete Arden notes, providing unsurpassed commentary on the poems.

    This digital edition follows Touch Press and Faber’s iPad app The Waste Land that presents T. S. Eliot’s great poem in an innovative and widely praised interactive format.

    Click here for the full Press Release

    Shakespeare’s Original Pronunciation – CD Available Now

    The first ever CD of Shakespeare sonnets, speeches and scenes that I curated for the British Library launched yesterday. Click here for the full press release.

    It’s now available to buy, and the Live event will take place on May 4th, 2012, at the British Library.

    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).


    London Fringe Radio Live, Weds 16th @7.45pm

    Being interviewed on t’radio tomorrow about Shakespeare on Toast

    Details to be found here…

    “Now is the Winter of our discontent…” — in Original Pronunciation

    The Richard III Quarto, at the British Library Evolving English Exhibition, 13 November 2010 -- 3rd April 2011

    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.

    Now is the Winter… in Original Pronunciation

    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…

    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

    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