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Shakespeare's Original Pronunciation: Speeches and Scenes Performed as Shakespeare Would Have Heard Them [Audiobook] [Audio CD]

Ben Crystal
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
RRP: 10.00
Price: 9.49 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

10 Feb 2012
How did Shakespeare sound to the audiences of his day? For the first time this disc offers listeners the chance to hear England's greatest playwright performed by a company of actors using the pronunciation of his time. Under the guidance of Ben Crystal, actor, author of Shakespeare on Toast and an expert in original Shakespearian pronunciation, the company performs some of Shakespeare's best-known poems, solo speeches and scenes from the plays. Hear new meanings uncovered, new jokes revealed, poetic effects enhanced. The CD is accompanied by an introductory essay by Professor David Crystal. An essential purchase for every student and lover of Shakespeare. Track listing: 1. Sonnet 116 (in modern English) 2. Sonnet 116 (in original pronunciation) 3. Sonnet 71 4. Sonnet 18 5. Sonnet 154 6. A Midsummer Night s Dream Flower of this purple dye (Oberon) 7. As You Like It A fool, a fool (Jaques) 8. Hamlet To be, or not to be (Hamlet) 9. Henry V Once more unto the breach, dear friends (Henry V) 10. Macbeth Is this a dagger which I see before me (Macbeth) 11. Richard II I have been studying how I may compare (Richard II) 12. The Winter s Tale Since what I am to say (Hermione) 13. As You Like It All the world's a stage (Jaques) 14. The Merchant of Venice The quality of mercy (Portia) 15. The Two Gentlemen of Verona When a man's servant shall play the cur with him (Launce) 16. Richard III I call'd thee then vain flourish of my fortune (Queen Margaret) 17. Richard III Now is the winter of our discontent (Gloucester) 18. The Tempest Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes and groves (Prospero) 19. Twelfth Night Were not you even now with the Countess Olivia? (Malvolio and Viola) 20. The Comedy of Errors Why, how now, Dromio! (Antipholus of Syracuse and Dromio of Syracuse) 21. Romeo and Juliet But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks? (Romeo and Juliet) 22. Much Ado about Nothing Lady Beatrice, have you wept all this while? (Benedict and Beatrice) 23. Julius Caesar Stay, ho! and let us hear Mark Antony (Antony and plebeians) 24. Twelfth Night Save thee, friend, and thy music (Viola and Feste) 25. Hamlet My honoured lord! (Guildenstern, Rosencrantz and Hamlet) 26. Othello How goes it now? he looks gentler than he did. (Emilia and Desdemona) 27. King Lear Give me the map there (King Lear, Goneril, Regan and Cordelia) 28. Macbeth Good morrow, noble sir. (Lennox, Macbeth, Macduff, Lady Macbeth, Banquo, Donalbain and Malcolm)

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Shakespeare's Original Pronunciation: Speeches and Scenes Performed as Shakespeare Would Have Heard Them + Pronouncing Shakespeare: The Globe Experiment
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Product details

  • Audio CD: 1 pages
  • Publisher: The British Library Publishing Division (10 Feb 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0712351191
  • ISBN-13: 978-0712351195
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 12.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 244,785 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ben Crystal is a British actor and writer. He studied English Language and Linguistics at Lancaster University before training at Drama Studio London. He has worked in TV, film and theatre, at the reconstructed Shakespeare's Globe, London, and is a narrator for RNIB Talking Books, Channel 4 and the BBC.

He co-wrote Shakespeare's Words (Penguin 2002) and The Shakespeare Miscellany (Penguin 2005) with his father David Crystal, and his first solo book, Shakespeare on Toast - Getting a Taste for the Bard (Icon 2008) was shortlisted for the Educational Writer of the Year Award, 2010. His new series of introductions to Shakespeare's plays - Springboard Shakespeare - was published by Arden Shakespeare in June 2013.

In 2011, he played Hamlet in the first Original Pronunciation production of the play for 400 years with the Nevada Repertory Company, and in 2012 he was the curator of the first CD of extracts of Shakespeare recorded by professional actors in Original Pronunciation for the British Library.

In July 2014, he brought his ensemble to the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare's Globe, and produced the first reading of Macbeth in OP in Shakespeare's theatre for 400 years. In January 2015 he will take his ensemble to Stockholm to present their production of Pericles in OP, which will be live-scored by the Swedish Radio Symphony as part of conductor Daniel Harding's Interplay Festival.

He and his ensemble perform and give workshops on Shakespeare around the world, and some of this work can be viewed at www.passioninpractice.com

He lives in London and online at www.bencrystal.com and Tweets from @bencrystal

Product Description


A picture may well speak a thousand words, but this single CD demonstrates the difference that a thousand new and often surprising pronunciations make to our better appreciation of what the text really meant. Listening to this selection of familiar sonnets, monologues and scenes from Romeo and Juliet, Lear, Hamlet, Macbeth and Othello made me wonder why RSC and Globe directors don't insist on authenticity. --Sue Arnold, The Guardian, 21 April 2012

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Instructive but irritating 13 Mar 2013
Format:Audio CD
Those who've heard that Shakespeare spoke with an American accent will be reassured by this issue: the accent is certainly not standard southern English, but its (for us) strong regional feel has charm. It is reassuring too to find that the result is easy to follow. It's a real plus to hear rhymes destroyed by pronunciation changes restored to what they were, and to hear all four syllables in a word like 'ambition'.

But the downside is that the readers don't simply read: they act, and they have been told to read each line as if it were the immediate expression of emotion. The result is an exaggerated delivery, full of breaks and changes of mood, which kills tne metre and destroys the rhetorical coherence of speeches. This mode of delivery derives from the realism of films and TV. It has nothing to do with the Elizabethan stage.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Silly voices 28 April 2012
By Heli
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Interesting, but some sonnets are hard to follow because the sound was not properly edited for the human voice. And please, ye actors, stop whispering, we want to hear what you say without having to tweak the sound and adjust the equalizer settings.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars very interesting 16 Jan 2013
By Mr. Nj Mcallister VINE VOICE
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This was really worthwhile. I enjoyed hearing Shakespeare as he intended. The lyrical style of his writing is so much more complete in the original accent and not in stilted BBC Shakespearean english. Really brings the bard to life
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shakespeare 10 Jun 2012
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Very interesting CD. Interesting to hear. Didn't know the CD existed and so was a great find and at a good price.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing--literally--performance 15 Aug 2012
By Eclectic Reader - Published on Amazon.com
It takes getting used to, but this reading of Shakespeare is a marvel.

The recording is a help if you are locked in by stereotypes of what Shakespeare is supposed to sound like: elevated, grand English and swelling, stately pronunciation in modern English accents, sonnets and plays read only as literature/academic exercises--as texts with eye. But if you want to try and get to a lively reading that wakes up your ears, try this recording. It's not just a matter of "now I know an actor in the 16th century might have pronounced a word." The changes in pronunciation often change the rhythm of a passage, the rhyme, the way sounds "open up" in poetry.

The research that must have gone into this recording is impressive, but much much more impressive is the ability of the readers to "put on" the accents of 16th century English and speak the lines with feeling.

Four stars only because I wanted longer passages and the Henry V speech was a bit too roaring and ranting for my taste. I hope, one day, we'll be able to see whole plays performed like this.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shakespeare as they heard it in 1600 31 Aug 2012
By PAUL MEIER - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Having worked with Ben Crystal on his original pronunciation production of Hamlet, and with his father, David Crystal, on our OP production of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the University of Kansas, I was pretty sure this was going to be good. Ben and company exceeded expectations!

Anyone interested in dialects, Shakespeare, and Early Modern English will simply HAVE to have this CD.

Paul Meier
Author of Accents and Dialects for Stage and Screen (includes 12 CDs)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PERFECT FOR AN ACTRESS! 6 Mar 2014
By Carol F. Peck - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I bought this for my granddaughter, a theater major specializing in Shakespeare. She not only found it extremely valuable but is sharing it with other theater majors. I admit to listening to it first, because as a poet I am very interested in sounds of language and how they affect the experience of a poem. Thank you for bringing this important CD to my attention!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Original pronunciations 2 Mar 2014
By Alan Sogg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
The Irish accents are more in evidence than any significant variation leaning more to Late Middle English or Early Modern English.
5.0 out of 5 stars Really interesting look at Early Modern English 26 Jan 2014
By Amy Leigh Strickland - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This is a really interesting look at the original language of Shakespeare. The performances are far more engaging than a lot of readings. I wish I could get full recordings of these OP productions to use in my English classes.
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