Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Shakespeare’s Globe


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, a performance lecture and a reading of Henry V in OP (during the 600th year anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt), and in 2016, a reading of Dr Faustus in OP, and extracts from Henslowe’s Diaries.

Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Shakespeare’s Globe, 2014-2016


– Exploring Original Pronunciation: Poetry and Prose
– Exploring Original Pronunciation: Songs and Sonnets, with Sam Amidon & The Askew Sisters
Macbeth in Original Pronunciation


– Exploring Original Pronunciation: Regional Dialects
Henry V in Original Pronunciation


– Exploring Original Pronunciation: Henslowe’s Diaries
 Dr Faustus in Original Pronunciation

Tanner Street Loft, 2014-2015



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

Here’s a write-up by The Shakespeare Standard


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.


British Library – Shakespeare’s Original Pronunciation CD

R3 @ BL

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. Listen to how the OP makes the rhythm canter on ‘Cheated of feature by dissembling Nature’.

Listen to Ben’s Richard III in OP

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).

The opening Court scene from King Lear

– with Hilton McRae, Natalie Thomas, and Suzan Sylvester

Desdemona’s Willow song, from Othello

– with Natalie Thomas and Joan Walker

Richard II, from Act 5

– with Ben Crystal

Hamlet’s 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, recorded a speech in OP…

Filmed by Aslam Husain