Ben is an actor, author, producer, and explorer of original practices in Shakespeare rehearsal and production.
He was the co-writer of Shakespeare’s Words (Penguin 2002) and The Shakespeare Miscellany (Penguin 2005) with his father David Crystal. His first solo book, Shakespeare on Toast – Getting a Taste for the Bard (Icon 2008) was shortlisted for the 2010 Educational Writer of the Year Award.
A quartet series for Arden Shakespeare / Bloomsbury - Springboard Shakespeare was published June 2013, You Say Potato: A Book about Accents September 2014, and An Illustrated Dictionary of Shakespeare was published April 2015 with OUP, and was shortlisted for the 2016 Educational Writer of the Year Award.
In 2011 he played Hamlet in the first Original Pronunciation production for 400 years, as Artist in Residence with the Nevada Repertory Company. In 2012 he was the curator, producer and creative director of the first CD of extracts of Shakespeare in Original Pronunciation for the British Library.
In 2014 he gave the English Council Lecture at the British Council on Speaking the bright and beautiful English of Shakespeare, and led the judges for the ESU's Performing Shakespeare Competition.
In March 2015 he led an Original Pronunciation Lab and performance at the Pearl Theatre with the Shakespeare Society in NYC, and another at the Circa Theatre in Wellington, New Zealand in May 2017, in association with the Shakespeare's Globe Centre New Zealand.
With the Passion in Practice Shakespeare Ensemble he has collaborated with Shakespeare's Globe, the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Savannah Music Festival, the Sharjah Book Festival, the British Council, and the British Library, as well as the folk artists Sam Amidon, and the Askew Sisters.
In 2014 the Ensemble were invited to explore Original Pronunciation in the newly finished Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Shakespeare's Globe, with a cue-script rehearsed, candle-lit staged reading of Macbeth in OP, using the opportunity to interrogate other original practices.
They transferred Macbeth in OP to a Bermondsey Wanamaker-like loft in November 2014, and in 2015 mounted a production of Pericles in OP at Daniel Harding’s Interplay Festival at the Berwaldhallen in Stockholm. Their Pericles: Recomposed was raised in three days, underscored by Max Richter’s Four Seasons: Recomposed, and played live by the Trondheim Soloists with violinist Daniel Hope.
In July 2015, PiP returned to the Globe and the Wanamaker Playhouse to give a cue-script rehearsed, candle-lit staged reading of Henry V in OP, which again transferred to Bermondsey.
In 2016, they were commissioned to open the British Council's Shakespeare Lives! programme and performed extracts of Twelfth Night at the Middle Temple, on the night of the 414th anniversary of the play's first performance there.
In April 2016 they re-raised Pericles: Recomposed for the Savannah Music Festival, before curating the British Library's Shakespeare's 450th Birthday Night celebrations. They returned for a third time to the Wanamaker Playhouse at the Globe in May 2016 to perform Dr Faustus in OP.
In 2017 & 2018 Ben toured the US, Asia, and New Zealand. He collaborated with 7StagesShakespeareCompany, Prague Shakespeare Company, developed work with the lutenist Solmund Nystabakk & singer Debi Wong on a fusion of Dowland and Romeo & Juliet for Renaissance Opera, and developed physical games for children and young people with SEND, with Joe England.
His 2017 TEDx talk was called Original Practices: Shakespeare's Craft
The website based on the book, www.ShakespearesWords.com was rebuilt, redesigned, & relaunched into its 3.0 on April 23rd, 2018, with a Thesaurus added on April 23rd 2019.
Ben gives workshops & talks on performing Shakespeare around the world.
He tweets from @bencrystal.