Actor, Author, Producer
Ben founded Passion in Practice and its Shakespeare Ensemble, and 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.
His theatre productions of Simon Stephens' One Minute in 2008 and Robin French's Gilbert is Dead in 2009 were critically acclaimed, and 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, their best-selling CD to date. In 2014 he gave the English Council Lecture at the British Council on Speaking the bright and beautiful English of Shakespeare, and has been the lead judge for the ESU's Performing Shakespeare Competition for 2014-16.
In March 2015 he consulted with the Baltimore Shakespeare Factory on their OP Merchant of Venice, and created an OP Lab in a three-day workshop and performance at the Pearl Theatre with the Shakespeare Society in NYC, followed by a residency at Washington & Lee, Virginia, October 2015.
With the 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 Sistsers.
In 2014 they 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.
He 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. 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, the Shakespeare Ensemble returned to the Globe and the Wanamaker Playhouse to give a cue-script rehearsed, candle-lit staged reading of Henry V in OP.
In 2016, they performed extracts of Twelfth Night at the Middle Temple, on the night of the 414th anniversary of the play's first performance there, commissioned to open the British Council's Shakespeare Lives! programme.
In April 2016 they re-raised Pericles: Recomposed for the Savannah Music Festival, and curated the British Library's Shakespeare's 450th Birthday Night celebrations, and returned to the Wanamaker Playhouse in May 2016 for their third exploration, Dr Faustus in OP.
He gives workshops & talks on performing Shakespeare around the world, and some of this work can be viewed at www.passioninpractice.com
He lives in London and Tweets from @bencrystal