Category Archive: Latest News

    Early 2012 – British Library CD, Venus & Adonis, Arden Shakespeare…

    Back from Nevada & playing the lead in the Contemporary World Premiere of Hamlet in Original Pronunciation.

    I’m about to finish curating a CD of extracts of Shakespeare in OP for the British Library, the first of its kind, which will be out in February 2012 on CD & download. See here for more details: Shakespeare’s Original Pronunciation

    And now, after 7 months of acting, three months of (mostly) writing…

    I’m currently adapting Shakespeare’s long poem Venus & Adonis for the Engage Programme out of Bath Theatre Royal, Bath Lit Festival 2012, & Roughhouse Theatre, which will be playing early March 2012.

    And I’m about to write a new series of books called Springboard Shakespeare for Arden Shakespeare, coming out September 2012

    Probably slightly more regular updates found via my Twitter feed.

    Wishing each & all an adventurous new year…

    “A real tour de force” – blog review

    A very kind blog review:

    The final part of Shakespeare on Toast has Crystal putting everything together in a fascinating analysis of one of the key speeches in Macbeth.  It’s a real tour de force…

    I think this book is wonderful.  I have learned plenty from it and I suspect anyone other than an English literature academic would do the same…  I reckon it should be compulsory reading for all teenagers studying Shakespeare and so, for that, Saint Jamie of the Bard gets my vote.


    Read the full review here

    Interview with Sir Richard Eyre, Hay Festival, May 28th 2011

    While working and speaking at the Hay Festival last week I interviewed Sir Richard Eyre, who ran the Royal National Theatre for ten years, published excerpts of his diaries of his time there in his National Service, and was at the Festival to interview his wife, the producer Sue Birtwistle, on the challenges of adaptation. I grabbed half an hour with him…

    There was a look in his eyes that made me speechless. Not a good way to start an interview, I grant you, but goosebumps shivered up my arms, I put down my pen and forgot about the dictaphone in my bag.

    He stared into the middle distance, watching the scene play out in his memory. “Heart-breaking…”

    Click here to read the rest of the interview…

    Passion in Practice – May 2011 – Acting Shakespeare Workshop

    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 for more details.

    London Fringe Radio Live, Weds 16th @7.45pm

    Being interviewed on t’radio tomorrow about Shakespeare on Toast

    Details to be found here…

    Talks this week…

    Giving three talks this week…

    Shakespeare, Language and the Elizabethan Mind, 1pm, Feb 25th, British Library

    Shakespeare & Original Pronunciation, NATE Conference 2011, 4pm, British Library

    Romeo and Juliet Investigate Day, 10am-12.30pm, Feb 26th, Octagon Theatre / Bolton University

    Shakespeare, Language & the Elizabethan Mind – 25th Feb, British Library

    Been looking forward to this for a while. My new talk coming soon to the British Library:

    What would it have been like to go to the theatre in Shakespeare’s time? How did his plays tap into his audience’s views on life and love? How did the social, cultural and political developments of the time shape his writing? Just as the English language was going through great change, so was the city of London. The world was rocked too by the death of Elizabeth, and James’s accession to the English throne.

    Shakespeare’s audience had a tremendous ability to suspend their disbelief, and a great appetite for story-telling; they would have been thrilled by his language play, by the new words he invented and by the semi-familiar worlds he and his actors took them to. His works are revitalised when seen through the eyes and minds of the people he was trying to entertain.

    Actor and author Ben Crystal (Shakespeare’s Words, Shakespeare on Toast) dives into the hearts, minds, ears and words of Shakespeare’s world.

    1-2pm, Friday 25th, The British Library – Shakespeare, Language & the Elizabethan Mind…

    Review of Gnomeo & Juliet for The Atlantic Magazine

    An excerpt of my review published today in The Atlantic Magazine:

    I like adaptations of Shakespeare. He often adapted well-known stories and so the plots of his plays would have been very familiar to his audience—the fall of Troy would have been a bedtime story, the legend of Romeo and Juliet a fairy tale, and A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, with its forest-bound love story featuring a man turned into an ass by tricksy fairies, a pre-Brother’s Grimm fable….

    Gnomeo and Juliet has a stellar cast of voices, ninja gnomes, er, music by Elton John, and, um… I’m sorry. It’s no good. I tried to like it, I really did. But it was, by turns, misogynistic, racist, homophobic, xenophobic, cheap, and dull, with jokes about women, gays, and foreigners that I thought we’d done with decades ago.

    Click here to read the full review…

    Original Practices Public Forum, 10th Feb, Birkbeck College

    Birkbeck Theatre Conversations presents

    Original Practices?

    How much do we now know about the playhouses of Elizabethan London, and the working practices of the companies who performed in them? How might this inflect the work of today’s directors and performers of Elizabethan drama?

    A public forum with:

    Julian Bowsher, theatre archaeologist, Museum of London

    Professor Tiffany Stern, University College, Oxford, author of Rehearsal from Shakespeare to Sheridan and Documents of Performance

    Ben Crystal, actor and writer, author of Shakespeare on Toast and co-author of Shakespeare’s Words

    Daniel Winder, director, Iris Theatre Company

    Chaired by Michael Dobson, Professor of Shakespeare Studies, Birkbeck College

    February 10th, 6.30-8pm, 32 Tavistock Square. Refreshments. All welcome.

    Shakespeare’s Sonnets – British Library – 2nd Feb 2011

    Looking forward to an evening of sonnet exploration at the British Library

    Probably the greatest love poems in English literature, the sonnets introduced to the language such phrases as ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’, ‘the darling buds of May’, and ‘remembrance of things past’. Still fresh and intriguing after 400 years, they express almost every phase and every permutation of love, from the first infatuation to final loss, and are perhaps the most personal of all Shakespeare’s works.

    An evening of appreciation and exploration with award-winning poet Don Paterson, and Shakespearean scholars Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen (co-authors of the RSC Complete Works of William Shakespeare) and actor and writer Ben Crystal.

    Click here for more details…