#8 Pericles – in Shakespeare’s original pronunciation – Ben Crystal and David Crystal
Actor Ben Crystal and his Shakespeare ensemble perform Pericles in its original pronunciation, reconstructed by linguist David Crystal. Music by Vivaldi.
PERIKLES - in Shakespeare’s original pronunciation
Thursday 29 Jan at 6.30 PM
Daniel Hope, solist
Ben Crystal, actor
David Crystal, linguist
Actors from the Shakespeare ensemble
Music by Vivaldi
Ben Crystal´s own words about PERIKLES - in Shakespeare’s original pronunciation:
Interplay #8 - Pericles in the Original Pronunciation - will be a world premiere - in three very different ways.
It’s the first contemporary production of Shakespeare’s late-play Pericles in Original Pronunciation, the accent his actors spoke in, based on research by the renowned linguist, scholar (and my father) Prof David Crystal, OBE, at Shakespeare’s Globe in 2004.
Original Pronunciation, or OP, is considered by modern audiences to be easier to understand than Shakespeare spoken in a modern English accent. The Tragedy of Pericles, Prince of Tyre was an collaboration with a young colleague of Shakespeare's in 1608, and an exploration with his actors of voyage, self-discovery, romance and reunion.
Shakespeare would have adapted his company to today's laws. An example: in this modern world I believe Shakespeare would have welcomed female actors to his company, illegal in his day. I believe he would have let us cut his text to the best ’two hours’ traffic’ - a time-frame suggested in the Chorus to Romeo and Juliet - just as his own company once did. And I think he would have welcomed faithful innovation to tell his stories as clearly as possible - a quality in our productions we feel counter-balances the concept-driven Shakespeare that has popularised the world. This production of Pericles will not be set on the moon, on a cruise-ship, or in the 1920s: the setting will be the Berwaldhallen, the audience above and around us, with a chamber orchestra nestled with us, on stage.
We will rehearse in our usual manner, as our Elizabethan counterparts used to: each actor receiving only receiving their 'cue-script' - the words they say, and their cues for when to say them - but never reading the entire play. So we will rehearse together, but will not speak the play whole to each other until we perform it for the first time in front of our audience on the 29th January.
Instead, we will explore how we can best serve both the music, this new-old accent we call OP, and the text - the latter filled with 'Dumb-Showes', non-verbal scenarios of action that takes place, all narrated by the Chorus figure of Gower, the Medieval English poet Shakespeare reincarnates to tell this most wonderful of stories.
And finally, Interplay #8 will take the name of SRSO conductor Daniel Harding’s Festival, Interplay, quite literally, and explore those magical moments when the musicians follow the actors, the actors follow the musicians, or the rarer times when both are lead by something Other, and unwished for, there comes an Interplay between us.
It is going to be quite a night at the Berwaldhallen this January 29th. Do please come & join us.
The Shakespeare Ensemble
Ben Crystal is the co-writer of Shakespeare’s Words (Penguin 2002) and The Shakespeare Miscellany (Penguin 2005) with his father David Crystal. Ben Crystal’s 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.
His new quartet, a series for Arden Shakespeare/ Bloomsbury – Springboard Shakespeare was published in June 2013, and his forthcoming books for Macmillan and OUP will be published in September 2014 and April 2015.
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, co-producing 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.
During 2014, Crystal toured his work around the USA in April, Sweden in May, and in July coordinated a series of original pronunciation events at the new indoor Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare’s Globe, culminating in a cue-script rehearsed, staged reading of Macbeth by candle-light, performed by members of his Shakespeare ensemble.
Ben Crystal gives workshops on performing Shakespeare around the world. He lives in London.
David Crystal is honorary professor of linguistics at the University of Bangor and works from his home in Holyhead, North Wales, as a writer, editor, lecturer, and broadcaster. He is the author of over a hundred books on language in general and the English language in particular, including Pronouncing Shakespeare (2005), Think on my words: exploring Shakespeare's language (2008), and (with Hilary Crystal) Wordsmiths and Warriors: the English-language tourist's guide to Britain (2013). He was Master of Pronunciation at Shakespeare's Globe, London, for the original pronunciation productions of Romeo and Juliet (2004) and Troilus and Cressida (2005), and has since guided the development of this approach to Shakespeare around the world. With Ben Crystal, he has co-authored Shakespeare's words: a glossary and language companion (2002), The Shakespeare miscellany (2005), You say potato (2014) and The Oxford illustrated Shakespeare dictionary (2015).