Category Archive: Shakespeare on Toast

    Shakespeare on Toast – 2nd!

    Well, it’s been 8 years since Shakespeare on Toast was first published, so we’ve refreshed the cover (butter now, instead of bread) & I’ve added 3 new chapters, a film watch list, and generally given things a good spring clean. BC

    Actor, producer and director Ben Crystal revisits his acclaimed book on Shakespeare for the 400th anniversary of his death, updating and adding three new chapters.

    Shakespeare on Toast knocks the stuffing from the staid old myth of the Bard, revealing the man and his plays for what they really are: modern, thrilling, uplifting drama.

    The bright words and colourful characters of the greatest hack writer are brought brilliantly to life, sweeping cobwebs from the Bard – his language, his life, his world, his sounds, his craft. Crystal reveals man and work as relevant, accessible and alive – and, astonishingly, finds Shakespeare’s own voice amid the poetry.

    Whether you’re studying Shakespeare for the first time or you’ve never set foot near one of his plays but have always wanted to, this book smashes down the walls that have been built up around this untouchable literary figure.


    The Winter’s Tale

    A blog: on directing Winter’s Tale, and taking Original Pronunciation into the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse




    Original Pronunciation // Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Shakespeare’s Globe // July 2014

    Back from a Passion in Practice workshop and Shakespeare on Toast Schools Workshops and a Springboard Shakespeare book tour around the USA. Coached a Company in their Original Pronunciation in Houston, worked with the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, colleges in northern and central California, members of the Bristol Faire Ensemble in Chicago, visited the Folger Library in DC, gave a talk and a workshop at the Blackfriars Theatre in Staunton, VA, and spent 10 days in NYC, running workshops and giving talks in celebration of our Bard’s 450th.

    A terrific month.

    Back to the UK, to finish work on the new Oxford Illustrated Dictionary of Shakespeare for OUP that lands April 2015, that I’m co-writing with my father, and a book on accents for Macmillan called You Say Potato, that he’s writing with me, which will land October 2014.

    Meanwhile, am getting ready to direct The Winter’s Tale in June, and preparing the Original Pronunciation events for the Shakespeare’s Globe this July.

    My Shakespeare Ensemble, Dad and I will be presenting three events in the new Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. An evening of Prose and Poetry on July 10th, an evening of Songs and Sonnets on July 17th, to include new scorings of Shakespeare’s songs composed by Sam Amidon, played live by The Askew Sisters, ending with a cue-script rehearsed, staged reading by candle-light of Macbeth on July 20th – all to be heard in the recreation of the accent Shakespeare’s Company spoke in.

    You can hear the accent here: Shakespeare’s Original Pronunciation

    Houston, San Francisco, NYC, DC, Virginia – April Tour

    Here below, details of my book-talk & workshop tour around the USA

    April 2014

    4th-11th, University of Houston Downtown, Original Pronunciation (Workshop)
    10th, Shakespeare on Toast, Annunciation Orthodox School, 1pm
    San Francisco
    14th, Pacific Union College, Shakespeare’s Verse (Workshop)
    17th, Santa Clara University, Shakespeare’s Verse (Workshop), 2pm
    17th, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare’s Verse (Workshop), 7pm
    18th-19th, Shakespeare’s Ensemble (Workshop)
    23rd, NYPL, Shakespeare on Toast 1.15pm
    25th & 28th, Washington DC
    26th-27th, Original Practices talks and workshops, Blackfriars Playhouse, American Shakespeare Centre
    28th, Shakespeare’s Verse (Open Workshop)
    29th, Sayville School, Long Island
    30th, Emma Willard School, Troy
    1st May, Shakespeare’s Verse (Open Workshop)

    Shakespeare Week – The Telegraph

    Proud to be an ambassador for Shakespeare Week – here’s a piece I wrote for The Telegraph, with my top 5 ways to engage your kids in Shakespeare:

    The key fits the lock, the engine growls, the car roars into life, when acted. It’s what the words were written for.

    Shakespeare Week

    Toast for 99p – Amazon’s Daily Kindle Deal – 24th Jan ’13

    For 23 hours and 59 minutes, Shakespeare on Toast is’s Daily Kindle Deal:

    If you thought Shakespeare was elitist and difficult to read, Ben Crystal will show you a new side, in his delightful, witty romp through the bard’s life and works. An actor at Shakespeare’s Globe, Crystal offers the reader a friendly masterclass with this entertaining introduction to Shakespeare’s most brilliant plays.

    Get your slice o Toast on Kindle for £0.99 (81% off) until 23:59 on 24/1…

    Shakespeare on Toast – Talk in NYC – November 12th 2012

    THRILLED to announce that Shakespeare on Toast will be available in all good bookshops – and as an eBook – in the United States from October 16th, 2012, published by Icon Books.

    In celebration, I’m joining forces with The Shakespeare Forum and will be giving a public talk at 8pmMonday 12th November at the über cool and über central-Manhattan Hartley House, 413 West 46th St (b/w 9th & 10th Ave), NY 10036.

    Shakespeare on Toast will be available at a discounted price, there’ll be wine, there’ll be cheese, there’ll be laughter, there’ll be tears…

    Actor and author Ben Crystal makes sense of Shakespeare by putting him back into context.

    First exploring what a trip to a Shakespearean Theatre in 1600 would be like…

    …an incredibly quick master-class on the poetry style Shakespeare wrote in that you’ll be talking about for days…

    …and a fascinating look at Original Pronunciation – the accent Shakespeare and his actors would have spoken in – and how it can shake loose a piece of Shakespeare…

    This evening is for anyone from 8-80: for apprentice bard-o-holics experiencing the Bard for the first time, for the Will-haters, through to audience members who love Shakespeare and want to learn something new…


    Head to The Shakespeare Forum or message their twitter feed for more.


    To request a review copy of Shakespeare on Toast or discuss interview or features, please contact

    Henry Lord, Publicity Manager at Icon Books

    Shakespeare on Toast – Coming to USA – October 16th 2012

    THRILLED to announce that Shakespeare on Toast will be available in all good bookshops – and as an eBook – in the United States from October 16th, 2012, published by Icon Books.

    In celebration, I’m joining forces with The Shakespeare Forum and will be giving a talk open to the public, on the evening of Monday 12th November (venue in Manhattan TBC).

    Further details of NYC-happenings will be posted shortly.


    To request a review copy or discuss interview or features, please contact

    Henry Lord, Publicity Manager at Icon Books

    Hamlet. In OP. In Nevada. This November… & a few other ‘bits’…

    Apologies for the lack of posting to this site in recent months…

    Unless you follow me on Twitter you may not know I was playing Demetrius in Iris Theatre’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream this last July, in the gardens of St Paul’s Church in Covent Garden, London.

    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…

    “Before you see the play, read Shakespeare on Toast”

    “Before you read the play, go and see it.

    Before you go and see it, read Shakespeare on Toast!”

    Stewart Ross, judge for the Society of Authors

    Ceremony for the Educational Writer of the Year Award 2010
    House of Commons, December 2010