Passion in Practice

Enrichment through Shakespeare


Passion in Practice began in 2010. Ben Crystal invited the director Daniel Winder and the actors Diana Kashlan, Laura Wickham, Natalie Thomas, David Hywel Baynes, Jamie Harding, Jaskiranjit Deol, Will Sutton, & Warren Rusher to a workshop at the Three Mills Studio, London.

In 2013 the explorations ramped up, under the direction of Ben Crystal, the company management of Warren Rusher, regular producing assistance from the actors Aslam Husain, Alex Boxall, Katrina Allen, Natalie Thomas, Will Sutton, & Marie Fortune, text insight from Emma Pallant, movement direction from Jennifer Jackson, co-direction from Rob Gander, Nathan Markiewicz, & Alasdair Hunter, and the production management of Halina Stapen-Webb.

Through workshops, consultancy, and production, Passion in Practice spreads ideas about how to play Shakespeare as simply as possible, without any great conceptual frame placed between participants and the play, and seek to bring honesty and great passion to equal the work.

Its main work has been in exploring original practices – and especially those of accent, space, company, and stage-craft – to bring about new rehearsal and performance tools for modern Shakespeare production and education.

From these explorations came experiments in raising shows in 24 and 72 hrs.

The work is writer led, allowing original texts to guide performances, in combination with physical disciplines originally learnt from Complicité and developed to find new paths up to the scope and scale of Shakespeare’s words.


Shakespeare, as a cathartic writer from a classical tradition, should leave people feeling exhilarated.

As Olivier did in the 50s and Branagh did in the 80s, we breathe life back into Shakespeare, bringing a fresh approach to these wonderful plays, and challenging peoples’ expectations of what coming to see a Shakespeare play is like


Working with cue-scripts, learning the silent stage directions Shakespeare wrote into his scripts, creating an ensemble core of returning actors, turning a rehearsal process into a second-nature place where we hone a craft, exploring the benefits of original staging practices, attempting to do justice to the emotional core of the language, and emulating the working relationship Shakespeare’s actors had, seeing what their methodologies and working dynamic can teach us…

We wonder what directions and new ideas might we discover from such an exploration?


The Ensemble over 2014-2016 was comprised of:

Diana Kashlan, Jennifer Jackson, Natalie Thomas, Katrina Allen, Suzan Sylvester, Claire Warden, Daiva Vaiciulyte, Emma Pallant, Helen Foan, Marie Fortune, Saskia Smith, Joan Walker, Helena Puska, Joanna Rosenfeld, Hazel Askew, Emily Askew, Rowan Rheingans, Catherine Groom,  Taz Burns, Shannon Harris, Halina Stapen-Webb, Christine Shaffer, Eve Marie-Kung, Sara Crystal, Kate Bellamy, Rebecca Atkinson-Lord, & Hilary Crystal;

Anirudh Nair, David Acton, Alex Blake, Drew Ernhout, Ian Peterson, Adam Webb, David Hywel Baynes, Reuben Kaye, Nick Wakely, Thorvald Aagaard, John Hogg, Warren Rusher, Sean Garratt, Will Sutton, Solomon Mousley, Sean Hagerty, Owen Oakeshott, Aslam Husain, Matt Mellalieu, Alex Boxall, Steven Kynman, Will O’Hare, Montgomery Sutton, Rhael ‘Lionheart’ Cape, RJ Foster, Max Davis, Hilton McRae, Colin Hurley, Rob Gander, Alasdair Hunter, Nathan Markiewicz, Salvatore Sorce, Mike Manganello, Richard Mackenzie, David Crystal, & Ben Crystal;

With collaborators The Askew Sisters, Sam Amidon, Daniel Hope, Annabel Arden, Scott Wishart, Adam Etherington, Jackson’s Lane, Jerwood Space, The Rag Factory, 47/49 Tanner Street, Surestate, Shakespeare’s Globe, The British Library, The British Council, the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, The Savannah Music Festival, JLR, Tata, Taj Hotels, Sharjah Literary Festival

The work was made possible thanks to the generosity of Graham Allen, Thomas Campbell Jackson, Andrew Fingret, Jake Kemp, Steve Urkowitz, Michael & Licia Crystal, Hilary & David Crystal, & Eric Rasmussen.



Photography by Scott Wishart, Aslam HusainMatt Reznek, and Shakespeare’s Globe

Past Events


Dr Faustus – in Original Pronunciation

Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare’s Globe

Sunday 22nd May at 16:00


As part of the celebrations marking 1616, Passion in Practice returns to the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse for the third exploration of original pronunciation, to present a staged reading of Marlowe’s Dr Faustus.

Drawing on their last two years’ exploration of the playhouse, original pronunciation, and the practice of a returning company of players to Shakespeare, which of these new-old tools  can apply to (and what new ones can be learnt from) the man who was Shakespeare before Shakespeare?


Come and brood with us in the dark, magical candle-lit glow of the Wanamaker for a reading (in original pronunciation, of course) of Marlowe’s dark and magical brooding of the fiery soul.

First performed at Henslowe’s Rose, this staged reading will follow the text of the play published in 1616 which has some additional scenes by Rowley and others. This will be the Company’s first experiment with Marlowe in OP and will take place in the candlelit glow of the Playhouse.


The staged reading will be followed by a Q&A with Professor David Crystal, Ben Crystal and members of Passion and Practice’s creative team.





Original Pronunciation – Henslowe’s Diary

Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare’s Globe

Thursday 26nd May at 19:00

To mark the 400th anniversary of Philip Henslowe’s death, Professor David Crystal will explore the Henslowe Diary in original pronunciation with the support of Ben Crystal’s Passion in Practice theatre company.


 Late at the Library: World Book Night celebrates Shakespeare

British Library

Saturday 23rd April at 19:30

As part of the celebrations marking Shakespeare’s 400th legacy year and World Book Night, Ben Crystal and Paul Blezard hosted an evening’s entertainment in the British Library main foyer, featuring special guest stars, Sir Trevor MacDonald and June Brown,  performances of speeches and scenes from Shakespeare’s canon performed by Passion in Practice, live music and a DJ set



Main Stage Line-up


Ben Crystal

David Crystal



Foan & Fortune

Sir Trevor McDonald OBE

June Brown MBE


The Big House Theatre Company

John Agard

Graeae Theatre Company


DJ Muzz Khan


Around the Library Foyer


Caliban & the Booke

Shakespeare Karaoke

Human Sonnet JukeBox

Sharing Sofa

Secret Shakespeare Characters:

Gaoler’s Daughter

Richard III







@Graeae @BigHousetheatre @LionHeartfelt @FoanAndFortune @yluvsh

 @PassionPractice @BritishLibrary @WorldBookNight





Pericles: Recomposed
Featuring L’Arte Del Mondo with Daniel Hope

Savannah Music Festival

Tuesday 5th April 6pm EST


The Savannah Music Festival hosted Passion in Practice’s re-staging of the tragedy of Pericles, Prince of Tyre, for one night in Savannah, Georgia, USA.

Underscoring the play with Max Richter’s reworking of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons: Recomposed, featuring the German orchestra l’arte del mondo led by Daniel Hope, the evening’s event transcended the normal theatre going experience. An enthralled audience laughed, gasped and cried, glued to the magical experience happening onstage when the Ensemble led the Musicians, the Musicians led the Ensemble and those beautiful moments when both worked together to enhance each other and create something genuinely unique and special.



What You Will: Celebrating 400 Years of Shakespeare

British Council at the Middle Temple


The British Council began their celebrations for Shakespeare’s 400th legacy year with an event marking the first performance of Twelfth Night: Or What You Will.

On the 2nd of Feburary 2016 Professor David Crystal, Ben Crystal and Passion in Practice members celebrated the language of Shakespeare showing that it is still alive and well in our present-day mouths, ears, eyes, and hearts  all around the world.

With excerpts from Twelfth Night, this performance lecture was broadcast live on the internet from Middle Temple Hall in London (where the play was first performed on 2 February 1602).




Alice in Wonderland – Taj, St James’ Court Hotel


Alice Team & fans 2
On September 8th 2015, the Passion in Practice Ensemble stepped outside their comfort zones and took part in a… NON-SHAKESPEARE event!

Making full use of the unique skill-sets held by members, Ben Crystal gathered together a collection of weird and wonderful characters from the Alice in Wonderland stories to delight and entertain an audience of embassy personnel from all over the world for and on behalf of parent company Tata.




St. James’ Court, A Taj Hotel, London unveiled the first of its ‘English Classics, Reinvented’ literary seriesat the Hay Festival 2015.

The London hotel launched it’s first bespoke edition in the ‘English Classics, Reinvented’ series.  Literary classics such as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland have been given a new lease of life, as the Taj partners with UK based artists to create a selection of new limited edition covers for the UK’s best loved tales.

East London based designer, Ethan McClean re-designed the classic cover drawing inspiration from the start of Alice’s adventures down the rabbit hole. The cover illustration captures Alice’s journey from our world into Wonderland, where she falls into the abstract, resulting in an optical illusion, which hypnotically pulls us into a strange new land.




Sam Wanamaker Playhouse


In 2004, Shakespeare’s Globe reconstructed the accent of Shakespeare’s day, and presented an acclaimed production of Romeo and Juliet in Original Pronunciation (or OP).  It was the first time the sound had been heard on a London stage for 400 years.

Since then, plays, poems, and songs from Shakespeare’s time have been performed in theatres around the world in OP, staging contemporary world premieres of Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Julius Caesar, revealing these works in a fresh, new light.

Beginning in 2014 Ben and David Crystal and the Passion in Practice Ensemble were asked to bring Original Pronunciation back to Shakespeare’s Globe, to the then recently opened Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. The series Exploring Original Pronunciation was born with two performance lectures and a reading of Macbeth in OP. In 2015 , one performance lecture and a reading of Henry V in OP (on the 600 year since the Battle of Agincourt).







Tanner Street Loft



Henry V in OP – August 2015

Following a sold out performance in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse as part of Globe Education’s Shakespeare Inspired season 2015, Ben and the Ensemble returned to the beautiful Tanner Street Loft. With a few minor cast changes, they once again restaged the production in 24hrs.

The production began with a Gala performance night of nibbles and drinks, opened with a David Crystal talk. The production ran for three performances and was the world contemporary premier of Henry V in OP.



Macbeth in OP – December 2014

Following their sell-out staged reading at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at nearby Shakespeare’s Globe in July 2014, the Ensemble gathered in London in December. They restaged their production in 24hrs without having rehearsed their scenes together, speaking the words to each other for the first time in front of their audiences (not all the cast were from the July reading).

This was a limited attendance, full production of Macbeth, for two nights only, and the world contemporary premiere of Macbeth in OP

A write-up by The Shakespeare Standard




Pericles: Recomposed


Here is a sneak-peak of the co-production of Pericles: Recomposed with Daniel Harding’s Interplay Festival at the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Berwaldhallen, Stockholm, January 29th 2015.

A world premiere in three different ways:

– A modern iteration of Shakespeare’s Company
– A modern iteration of the accent his actors spoke
– A new version of Vivaldi’s masterpiece

The Shakespeare Standard reviewer Louie Woodall, accompanied the Ensemble and documented the experience in three articles.
Part 1Part 2Part 3

Louie also reviewed the performance

Bringing together his Shakespeare Ensemble from the UK, Europe, India, and the US, the company had two days of rehearsal before being joined by a Chamber orchestra, three hours before the performance.

Music: Max Richter’s Four Seasons: Recomposed –

Recording c/o Deutsche Grammophone
Daniel Hope
Konzerthaus Kammerorchester Berlin
André de Ridder

Featured artists:
Ben Crystal, Actor
Nathan Markiewicz, Dramaturg
David Crystal, Linguist
Actors from the Passion in Practice Shakespeare Ensemble
The Trondheim Soloists
Daniel Hope, violinist




  24hr Projects – Pericles

In January 2014 we ran an experiment: to what extent can we follow the rehearsal method of the Elizabethans?

To that end, we Cue-script rehearsed a staged reading of Pericles in 24 hours, using Original Pronunciation, dance, song and a lot of little lights.

Read a blog on the weekend by our own Will Sutton here

January 2014 Pericles-8903




The Beginning

In November 2010, Ben brought together a group of like-minded actors, to explore the idea of a modern iteration of Shakespeare’s Ensemble. On the final day of the workshop we decided to explore acting Shakespeare on Film. Without notice, each actor was asked to perform something of Shakespeare’s writing that they knew off by heart. These videos are the result.



Filmed by Adam Etherington
With Ed Bowen-Carpenter & Hannah Richards

Produced by Adam Donneky






Original Pronvnciation

Hamlet – To be, or not to be… – in Original Pronunciation


In 2011, Ben went to Reno as Artist in Residence for the University of Nevada, formed, and led an ensemble of students and semi-professionals in a production of Hamlet. In October 2014, in aid of a Kickstarter project to help fund a film of the OP Hamlet in Reno, 2011, Ben took the last moments of sun to record a speech in OP…


British Library – Shakespeare’s Original Pronunciation CD


Having learnt the accent from his father’s 2004-5 work at Shakespeare’s Globe, Ben began to explore the practical applications of the accent – how it makes for more personal, grounded, and meatier Shakespeare performance. In 2010, Ben was asked by the British Library to record the opening speech of Richard III for their Evolving English Exhibition.

Knowing the listener would be using headphones while reading the original Quarto edition, Ben found himself whispering the speech into the microphone. Have a listen and get inside Richard’s head. Note how the OP makes the rhythm canter on ‘Cheated of feature by dissembling Nature’.



Then in the summer of 2011 the British Library invited him back to curate a CD of Shakespeare in Original Pronunciation, he trained and directed a number of our Passion in Practice actors (with the linguistic tutelage of his father, David Crystal).



with Hilton McRae, Natalie Thomas, and Suzan Sylvester

with Natalie Thomas and Joan Walker

The full CD, featuring sonnets, speeches and
scenes from the canon, can be bought here:


R3 @ BL








If you’d like to book a School visit, please click here


” Whether it be a preparatory class, or even a single session, before we ask our schoolchildren to take his works seriously – we should teach them to play with Shakespeare. ” Ben Crystal, writing in the Telegraph


School Quotes

“Your Shakespeare magic that swept through the school never diminished until everyone left for the summer.” Annunciation Orthodox School, Houston

“We really can’t thank you enough for how you opened the world of Shakespeare to the students – there has been such a positive buzz from the classes – Year 9 ASKED!! to write reviews of their session for homework! And even more children have come to ask for copies of your book. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful – what a memory!” Ormiston Bushfield Academy

“The workshop was really interesting as I learned many things.  I don’t like Shakespeare very much because I find the language difficult, but Ben totally changed this!  It felt like he was teaching us from the heart, and that really clarified things.  To sum it up, it was brilliant!” Year 9 student, Lycée International, St Germain-en-Laye

Ben in Schools 1




The format and length of session (hour, half a day, full day) can be tailored to suit, and the talk can be adjusted to fit the texts the students are studying or working on. We always get one or two (or all) the students up on their feet at some point, and there’s always time for questions.


“Highly Recommended” — Shakespeare on Toast reviewed in The School Librarian

“Witty, entertaining, highly engaging: Ben Crystal made
Shakespeare alive and we all became his audience in the Globe. The
session was too short: we want more.” — Susi Devlin, Sydenham High School, London

“It’s a pleasure to promote this introduction to Shakespeare by Ben Crystal, the actor and writer who also does workshops for schools.”
Carel Press – Exciting Resources for Education

“Many girls I know didn’t look at Shakespeare and after your visit you have inspired them to perform even one word dramatically! You got them to play with and act out words. You got girls to be creative and step out of their comfort zone, whilst teaching them about Shakespeare.” — Year 7 representative, Hayesfield Girls’ School, Bath





“Active without dumbing down, Ben’s workshops at our school soon had students comfortable with Shakespeare’s language and iambic pentameter. They quickly got the hang of using the rhythm to work out what they could be doing as actors to dramatise the scene, because Ben has the gift of explaining complex ideas succinctly.He makes the sessions fun, getting students actively involved, guiding their interpretations by helping them ‘put on the Elizabethan hat’. I was amazed by how rapidly students progressed from stumbling over a reading of a scene to performances that pulsed with tension, fear and suppressed excitement – they really brought the scenes alive, using the rhythm as the ‘actors manual’ Shakespeare intended. A real education!” — Edna Hobbs, Lytchett Minster School, Dorset
“Ben’s knowledge comes across naturally and without pretension… Certainly most teachers at GCSE and A level (or equivalent) will find it useful.” — Shakespeare on Toast reviewed in The National Association of Teaching English

“We began by discussing iambic pentameter — Crystal explained that it is not simply a metrical system, but indeed a tool Shakespeare uses to thread silent stage directions throughout his works. Using a few lines from Act 2, Scene 2 of Macbeth, and with a couple of volunteers (Tommy and Erin, two of the other bloggers), Crystal showed how actors can interpret the unwritten cues.”
Kelsey Sharpe, UCLA


If you’d like to book a School visit, please click here


For further information, please get in touch.

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